Authors: Heather Graham
She had never, never seduced him!
There was a coffee cup upon the kitchen table. Her fingers curled around it and she hurled it at him. “Go away!” she commanded him.
He ducked, ably avoiding the coffee cup.
“Go away?” he repeated. “How very rude, Mrs. Michaelson! When I have waited all these months to return? I lay awake nights dreaming for a chance to come back to your side. What a fool I was, Callie! And still, I suppose I did not learn.”
He stepped into the kitchen, swept his hat from his head, and sent it flying onto the kitchen table. “Well, I have come back, angel. And I’m very anxious to pick up right where I left off. Let’s see, where was that? Your bedroom, I believe. Ah, that’s right. Your bed. And let’s see, just how were we situated?”
“Get out of my house!” Callie snapped.
“Not on your life,” he promised. He smiled again, a bitter, self-mocking curl. “Not, madam, on your life!”
He strode toward her, and a sizzling fear suddenly swept through her. He wouldn’t really hurt her, she assured herself. He’d never really hurt her. Not Daniel.
He’d threaten, he’d taunt, but he’d never really hurt her….
But she couldn’t let him touch her. She couldn’t want him again. She couldn’t fall again!
“Don’t!” she warned.
“This is one invasion of the North that is going to be successful,” he warned her, his tone bringing shivers down her spine. He smiled, relentlessly coming toward her, his
ruthless as they fixed upon hers.
Callie knocked a chair into his path. He barely noticed.
“Don’t, damn you! You have to listen to me—” she began.
“Listen to you!” he exclaimed. She heard the sound of his fury explode in his voice. “Callie, time is precious! I have not come to talk this night. I listened to you once before.”
“Daniel, don’t come any nearer. You must—”
“I must finish what you started, Callie. Then maybe I can sleep again at night.”
He reached for her arm and the fire in his eyes seemed to sizzle through the length of her. She didn’t know him anymore. Or had she ever really known him? In his eyes she could see the effect of his days in the prison camp and even the days beyond. She had not imagined that he might be so ruthless. She still did not know how far he could go.
“Daniel, stop!” she hissed. She jerked free of his hold upon her arm, turned, and ran.
He was on her heels, not racing, just following her.
She stopped and found a vase and tossed it his way. He ducked again, and the vase crashed against a wall. She tore through the parlor, looking for more missiles. A shoe went flying his way, a book, a newspaper. Nothing halted his stride.
She reached the stairs, and he was there behind her.
She started to race up them and realized her mistake. He was behind her. She reached the landing. When she paused to catch her breath, his fingers entwined in her hair, and she was wrenched back and swept into his arms. Struggling wildly, beating her fists against his chest, she met his eyes. For a moment she was still, breathing hard, her breasts heaving with her exertion.
“Let’s finish what we started, shall we, angel?”
“Let me go!” Callie demanded. Tears stung her eyes. He was alive; he held her again. So many days and nights of dreams and memories had passed her by. If only he could be made to understand, if only she could see his smile, hear his laughter once again.
If only he could believe her.
But he would never understand, and there was nothing left for her but the violence and the fury in his eyes.
“Let you go?” he repeated, his tone bitter. “Once I tried to walk away. To honor both North and South, and everything that we both held sacred. But you raced after me, angel. You could not bear to have me leave. You wanted me to stay here. Remember, Mrs. Michaelson? Here.”
He walked again, carrying her into her room. A second later she found herself falling, cast down with very little care or tenderness onto the bed. She struggled to rise, her heart beating furiously. She wanted to fight him with a vengeance, and she hated the excitement that was snaking its way into her limbs.
Did it matter? Did anything matter when he was alive, when he had returned? When she could reach out her arms and hold him once again. When the night could sweep them into fields of ecstasy where there was no North and no South and where the sounds of roaring cannons and rifle fire could not intrude. Sweet, magical places where there was no black powder to singe the air, no pain of death, no anguish of defeat.
No! She could not hold him, she could give nothing
to him, take nothing from him, for he sought not love, but vengeance. He had sworn once that he would never hurt her, and she had to believe in that vow, for in his present ruthless mood, she had no way to fight him.
“Don’t!” she commanded. “Don’t even think—”
But he was suddenly straddled over her, stripping off his mustard gauntlets to catch her wrists where she pressed against him.
“Just what am I thinking, Callie?” he demanded.
She lay silent, watching his eyes. There was no mercy within them. Hard and brilliantly blue, they impaled her where she lay upon the pillow. She had no choice but to fight him, and fight him with equal fervor.
“I don’t know. What are you thinking?” she asked, gritting her teeth.
“Ah, if the Yanks but had you in the field!” he murmured. “Maybe you are recalling the last time we met. It was right here. I’ll never forget, because I loved this room from the first time I saw it. I loved the dark wood of the furniture, and the soft white of the curtains and the bed. And I loved the way that you looked here. I’ll never forget your hair. It was like a sunset spread across the pillow. Sweet and fragrant, and so enticing. Newly washed, like silk. I can’t forget your eyes. I can go on, Callie. There’s so much that I never forgot. I remembered you in camp, and I remembered you every moment that I planned and plotted an escape. I thought of your mouth, Callie. It’s a beautiful mouth. I thought of the way that you kissed me. I thought of your lovely neck, and the beauty of your breasts. I thought of the feel of your flesh, and the movement of your hips. Over and over and over again. I remembered wanting you like I’d never wanted anything or anyone before in my life. Of feeling more alive than ever before just because I breathed in the scent of you as I lay against your breast. And when you touched
me, I think I came closer to believing I had died and gone to heaven than I’ve ever done upon a battlefield. Damn you! I was in love with you. In the midst of chaos, I was at peace. I believed in you, and dear God, when I lay here with you, I even believed in life again. What a fool I was!”
“Daniel—” Callie said, desperate to explain.
“No! Don’t!” he said coldly. His fingers shook as they grasped her wrists. She felt the terrible tension in his limbs as his thighs tightened around her. Her heartbeat lifted and soared further. “Don’t!” he insisted again. “Don’t tell me anything. Don’t give me any protestations of innocence. I’ll tell you what I’ve thought over all these months. I’ve thought that you were a spy, and that you deserved the fate of a spy. I thought about choking the life out of you.” He released her wrists. His knuckles moved slowly up and down the column of her throat. She didn’t move. She didn’t dare breathe. In fascination, in dread, she listened as he continued to speak. “But I could never do it,” he said quietly. “I could never wind my fingers around that long white neck. I could never do anything to mar that beauty. Then I thought that you should be hanged, or that you should be shot. Through long dark nights, Callie, I thought about all of these things…. But do you know what I thought about most of all?”
His face had lowered against hers. Taut, bitter, hard. She should have fought him then. Fought him while she was nearly free.
But she did not. She stared at him and at the eyes that held hers so fiercely and passionately. “What?” she whispered.
“I thought about being here with you. I thought about this bed. I thought about your naked flesh, and I thought about your smile when it seemed that you poured yourself upon me, heart, soul, and body. I
thought about the way that your eyes could turn silver. I thought that all I wanted was to be back here.”
His fingers moved suddenly upon the lace of her bodice. And still Callie didn’t move. Not until he spoke again.
“I wondered what it would be like to have you when I hated you every bit as much as I had once loved you,” he said softly.
At last, too late, she came to life. She tried to strike his face, but he caught her wrist. “Hate me, then, you fool!” she told him heatedly. “Give me no chance, no leave, no grace, no mercy—”
“Were I to give you more mercy, I might as well shoot myself, madam!” he swore.
“You self-righteous bastard!” she charged him. “Hate me and I will despise you. You were the enemy! You are the enemy! This is Union soil! God damn you for expecting more from me,” Callie swore. Enraged beyond all reason, she managed in a fierce and violent burst of energy to twist away from beneath him.
He moved like lightning, dragging her back down. Gasping, struggling wildly, she fought him, until her breath left her, until she was caught and spent. She stared hatefully up into his eyes again.
Her situation was worse, for now the length of him lay against her, and all the fever and the fury and the heat that had burned and built so long within him seemed to encompass her.
“Here we are, Callie. You’ll not leave me tonight. And you’ll not betray me,” he whispered fiercely.
“And you’ll not have me!”
“It would be—rape!” she spat out.
“I doubt it.”
“Oh, you flatter yourself!”
“I’ve waited long and cold and furious nights, Callie. I will have you.”
“You won’t!” she cried to him. “You won’t hurt me, you won’t force me. You won’t, because you promised! You won’t, because of who you are. I know it, I know you—”
“Damn you, Callie! You don’t know me. You never knew me!”
But she did. She knew the sound of his voice, and she knew the twist of his jaw. She knew the way he stood, and she even knew the way he thought. She knew the searing blue light in his eyes, and she knew both the tempest and the tenderness that could rule the man.
And she knew the raw passion that guided him now.
His mouth descended upon hers. His lips were hard and forceful. She could not twist or turn to avoid or deter him for his fingers threaded through her hair, holding her head still to his assault. She clamped down to fight him in any way that she could. She hammered her fists against his back, but he ignored her blows, and eventually they began to slow, and finally to stop. He robbed her of breath, and of reason, and of her fury. Her defenses were weak, and her enemy in gray was powerful. Even more powerful was the enemy of time, and that of loneliness, and even that of love. For there was more than determination in his kiss. Perhaps there was even more than passion.
Her lips parted to his as the thrust of his tongue demanded. Searing hot, liquid, demanding, seductive, he played upon her senses, tasted her mouth, the deep recesses, the curve of her lip. Touched and demanded that she give in turn, and seemed to reach within her, more and more deeply, fierce and volatile.
Her fingers ceased to press against him. She no longer tried to push away. She hadn’t the power.
She heard the whisper of her voice, fierce, passionate, spoken with anger, and spoken with anguish.
“Damn, I’ll not let you sway me!” he cried out furiously. His eyes were fire as they touched hers. His fingers bit brutally into her arms.
At that moment, she did not know him. She didn’t know if he would have her in anger and hatred, or if he would cry out an oath and jump from her side. She didn’t know, and then it didn’t matter.
Because there was suddenly another loud, fierce cry that came to fill the room. It wasn’t a Rebel yell, nor was it any Yankee call.
It was a high, trembling, furious, and extremely demanding cry. And as it was ignored, it grew to new, hysterical heights.
The sound of that cry stopped Daniel flat, stopped him as Callie could have never done herself.
He sat back upon his haunches, his eyes narrowed sharply upon her. “What in God’s name … ?”
Her breath caught. She strove for calm. She shimmied from beneath him and he made no effort to stop her. “It’s—it’s Jared,” she said.
He was still staring at her blankly. Like a man trying to understand code when the code was plain English.
“That’s a baby,” he said.
“Yes! It’s a baby!” she agreed. She managed to leap from the bed at last. She hurried down the hall to the nursery, throwing open the door.
Jared had kicked off his coverings. His hands and feet were flying furiously. His little mouth was open wide, and he was screaming with a demanding will.
Callie swept him quickly up into her arms.
Daniel stood in the doorway, having come behind her. He stared at her with amazement etched across his features. She realized that he wasn’t looking at her at all, he was looking at Jared.
He strode across the room.
Instinctively, Callie held the child close to her breast, cradling him there. But Daniel ignored her protective
hold and reached for Jared with a dogged determination. “Give him to me, Callie,” Daniel warned.
Lest she hurt Jared, she had to let him go. Daniel meant to see him, and see him he would.
Daniel, ignoring Jared’s squalling and the flailing of his tiny fists and feet, walked over to the flickering lamplight that filtered in from the hallway. Callie swallowed hard, feeling shaky as she watched him scrutinize the baby clad in his white cotton shirt and diaper. He stared from Jared’s furiously puckered face to his perfect little feet. Daniel held the infant well, his hand and arm secure beneath Jared as he touched the long wild tuft of ebony dark hair upon Jared’s head. Then Daniel’s eyes—those distinct blue eyes, mirrored in the tiny face of the child—fell upon her again.
“It’s my baby!” he exclaimed harshly.
She wanted to speak, but her mouth had gone dry. Then it didn’t seem to matter to Daniel. He didn’t need her to answer him.