Craving the Forbidden(7)By: India Grey
His eyes met hers and for a second their gazes held. In spite of the cold stinging her cheeks, Sophie felt a tide of heat rise up inside her.
And then the moment was over and he was turning away, his feet crunching on the gritted paving stones, sliding his hands into the pockets of his coat just as the guard blew the whistle for the train to move out of the station again.
That was what reminded her, like a bolt of lightning in her brain. Clamping her hand to her mouth, she felt horror tingle down her spine at the realisation that she hadn’t bought a ticket. Letting out a yelp of horror, followed by the kind of word Julie Christie would never use, Sophie dashed forwards towards the guard, whose head was sticking out of the window of his van.
‘No—wait. Please! I didn’t—’
But it was too late. The train was gathering pace and her voice was lost beneath the rumble of the engine and the squealing of the metal wheels on the track. As she watched the lights of the train melt back into the winter darkness Sophie’s heart was beating hard, anguish knotting inside her at what she’d inadvertently done.
Stolen something. That was what it amounted to, didn’t it? Travelling on the train without buying a ticket was, in effect, committing a criminal act, as well as a dishonest one.
An act of theft.
And that was one thing she would never, ever do.
The clatter of the train died in the distance and Sophie was aware of the silence folding all around her. Slowly she turned to walk back to pick up her forlorn-looking bag.
‘Is there a problem?’
Her stomach flipped, and then sank like a stone. Great. Captain Disapproval must have heard her shout and come back, thinking she was talking to him. The station light cast dark shadows beneath his cheekbones and made him look more remote than ever. Which was quite something.
‘No, no, not at all,’ she said stiffly. ‘Although before you go perhaps you could tell me where I could find a taxi.’
Kit couldn’t quite stop himself from letting out a bark of laughter. It wasn’t kind, but the idea of a taxi waiting at Alnburgh station was amusingly preposterous.
‘You’re not in London now.’ He glanced down the platform to where the Bentley waited, Jensen sitting impassively behind the wheel. For some reason he felt responsible—touched almost—by this girl in her outrageous clothing with the snowflakes catching in her bright hair. ‘Look, you’d better come with me.’
Her chin shot up half an inch. Her eyes flashed in the station light—the dark green of the stained glass in the Fitzroy family chapel, with the light shining through it.
‘No, thanks,’ she said with brittle courtesy. ‘I think I’d rather walk.’
That really was funny. ‘In those boots?’
‘Yes,’ she said haughtily, setting off quickly, if a little unsteadily, along the icy platform. She looked around, pulling her long army overcoat more tightly across her body.
Catching up with her, Kit arched an eyebrow. ‘Don’t tell me,’ he drawled. ‘You’re going to join your regiment.’
‘No,’ she snapped. ‘I’m going to stay with my boyfriend, who lives at Alnburgh Castle. So if you could just point me in the right direction …’
Kit stopped. The laughter of a moment ago evaporated in the arctic air, like the plumes of their breaths. In the distance a sheep bleated mournfully.
‘And what is the name of your … boyfriend?’
Something in the tone of his voice made her stop too, the metallic echo of her stiletto heels fading into silence. When she turned to face him her eyes were wide and black-centred.
‘Jasper.’ Her voice was shaky but defiant. ‘Jasper Fitzroy, although I don’t know what it has to do with you.’
Kit smiled again, but this time it had nothing to do with amusement.
‘Well, since Jasper Fitzroy is my brother, I’d say quite a lot,’ he said with sinister softness. ‘You’d better get in the car.’
INSIDE the chauffeur-driven Bentley Sophie blew her cheeks out in a long, silent whistle.
What was it that horoscope said?
The car was very warm and very comfortable, but no amount of climate control and expensive upholstery could quite thaw the glacial atmosphere. Apart from a respectfully murmured ‘Good evening, Miss,’ the chauffeur kept his attention very firmly focused on the road. Sophie didn’t blame him. You could cut the tension in the back of the car with a knife.