He grinned back at me. “And I mean every word of what I say.”
The waitress appeared with our food just then, giggling and leaning over the table in a disgusting display that made my stomach turn. Literally. The eggs and bacon set out in front of me suddenly didn’t look so appealing either. I reached for the toast first.
I couldn’t help rolling my eyes again as she strutted off, hips swinging for maximum effect. Ethan gave me a soft laugh and an air kiss.
“Let’s talk some more about this plan of yours when we get back to London, okay? I want to enjoy our time here together this weekend and forget about that message last night, and have some fun.” I couldn’t resist adding in just a little snark: “Not that watching women throw themselves at you is fun for me or anything.”
He laughed a little harder. “Welcome to my world, baby. Hell, if it helps my cause by getting you jealous, maybe I should encourage the admiring females a little more.” He gestured in the waitress’s direction.
I glared at him. “Don’t even think about it, Blackstone.” I nodded toward his crotch. “It so won’t help your cause or getting you more of what you like.”
He bit off the end of a piece of bacon and ignored my threat, sweeping over me with sexy, slow eyes. “I like the jealous you very much. It turns me on,” he said in a low tone.
What doesn’t turn you on? I felt the tingle of arousal flutter through me as he raked me over with another look. Ethan could get me hot for him with just the slightest gesture. I noticed how his muscles flexed under his shirt and I wanted to tear it off and proceed with licking down his beautiful carved chest, down farther over his stomach and that V cut that ended in that most magnificent—”
“What are you thinking about now?” he asked with a brow twist, interrupting my wicked fantasies.
“How much I like to go running with you,” I countered, proud of my pithy comeback when I’d so obviously been caught shamelessly ogling him worse than the redhead who’d served our meal had done.
“Right,” he said, totally unconvinced. “I think you were dreaming about getting me naked and having a shag.”
I was horrified and stared down at my food, wondering why I was so sexed out these days. My hormones must be wacky again. All. His. Fault.
“Speaking of dreams . . .” I figured this was a good time to change the subject and let my comment hang in the air between us for a moment.
His eyes turned dark and he frowned. “Yeah, I had another one. I’m very sorry for disturbing you in your sleep. I really am. I don’t know why I’ve started having them after all this time.”
“I want to know what those dreams are about, Ethan.”
He tried his own brand of distraction by changing the conversation again. “But you’re right, baby, I shouldn’t have brought up the let’s-get-married thing like I did on the fly. It wasn’t nice to unload that on you in the middle of the night, even if I am still convinced it’s our best option. We can talk some more about it when we get back to town and you’ve moved into the flat. I already told you the whole scene last night at the National Gallery freaked me out.” He shook his head slowly. “When I couldn’t find you . . . it was the worst, Brynne. I can’t go through that again. My heart can’t take it.”
I stared at him, frustrated by being shut down again, and stiffened my stance. “Why won’t you talk to me about your nightmares? My heart can’t take that.”
His gaze flickered down and then back up. He whispered with pleading eyes, “When we get back home. Promise.” He played with my hand, tracing my knuckles ever so gently. “Let’s just have nice time together for the weekend like you said, without bringing any of the ugly stuff into it. Please?”
How could I say no? The look of dread all over him was enough for me to give him a reprieve. A few more days wouldn’t matter without knowing. I did know this much, though, whatever events Ethan had suffered through had been truly horrible, and it pained me to even imagine it. He said it was from his time in the war and I remembered Neil’s words to me once: “E’s a walking miracle, Brynne.”
Yeah, he’s a miracle all right. My miracle.
♦ ♦ ♦
Our return to the house took a different path, as Ethan wanted to show me around. This way was far less strenuous, for which I was grateful; for some reason I was feeling tired again. I felt a flush as I realized why. Lots of sex action last night. Another miracle considering I’d begun and ended the evening by barfing. Ugh. Ethan had been so good to me, though. He really was a considerate and attentive man, with very fine manners for not having grown up with a mother. I’d have to thank his father, Jonathan, for doing such a good job when I saw him again.
The area turned more wooded as we shifted away from the coast. Leaves of green filtered the sun through the branches to make patterns of shadows and light on the ground. The whole place was so peaceful, the little graveyard tucked away under some very old oak trees felt like a good place to stop for a while. The cemetery looked like something out of a gothic novel, all overhanging branches and ornate headstones.
Ethan waited for me to catch up at the gate and extended his hand. As soon as I touched him, he drew me up close against his body, enfolding me. “You want to look around in there and have a bit of a break? I figured you might because you like history so much.”
“I’d love to. It’s so beautiful in here.” I looked around. “So peaceful and serene.”
We walked through the plots, reading names on the stones of the people who’d lived and died in the area. A marble crypt marked the resting place of the Greymont family, the ancestors of Hannah’s husband, Freddy. I made out the names Jeremy and Georgina and remembered them as the people Hannah had named in the gorgeous portrait I’d discovered this morning on the stairway. The Mallerton. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that the painting of Sir Jeremy and his beautiful Georgina was the real deal and hoped the family would allow some pictures just for cataloguing purposes. Maybe I could get Benny up here to take some good photos. Gaby would want to see it and the Mallerton Society would be very interested in anything to do with the painting’s current status. My mind was churning with possibilities as we left the private cemetery and continued inland on the forest path.
We came up to an imposing iron gate, the kind you see in movies that win Academy Awards for cinematography. Secured to the metal was a sales agency sign advertising the place as Stonewell Court.