“Sophia!” Ophelia cast a sharp glance at Harriet. “That’s enough.”
Sophia gave Ophelia a smug smile. “You’re just upset because you didn’t get to kiss him.”
Ophelia stiffened, her glasses sliding a notch down on her nose. “I would have if you hadn’t thrown yourself over him and practically smothered him until he coughed and –“
“He coughed?” Harriet asked, looking at Sophia. “I thought you coughed.”
Sophia tossed her hair. “He coughed a little. But I did not smother him. I mean . . . I suppose I might have leaned my elbow into his ribs a little. But only a little!”
Harriet closed her eyes. “You are both going to drive me mad. Go to the barn and help Jem.”
Reluctantly, the two left the room, defending themselves as they went. Harriet waited for them to leave, then she closed the door.
Stifling a sigh, she approached the bed and looked down at the patient. He seemed sound asleep, no movement on his face, his breath even and deep. “Sophia’s being melodramatic.” Harriet took the cloth she’d dipped in the water and sat on the edge of the bed.
If he’d been handsome before, he was dangerously handsome now that he’d been cleaned up a bit. She frowned again. Was he really asleep? She tilted her head to one side, leaned over and peered closely at him, her nose only an inch from his.
Nothing happened. She breathed a little harder, letting her breath fan over his mouth. Again, nothing happened. His breathing never altered, his lashes didn’t tremble, nothing.
Oh, for heaven’s sake, what am I doing?” If he was awake, he would open his eyes, ask for something to eat, want to know where his horse was—something other than lie there dead to the world.
Relaxing a bit, Harriet straightened, though she found herself smoothing back the man’s hair. Thick and soft to the touch, the black waves slid through her fingers. He remained deeply asleep, his lashes on the crest of his cheeks, his lips slightly parted . . .
Harriet looked at his mouth. Heaven had never made such a perfect pair of lips. Never.
Sophia had kissed those lips. Harriet wondered for just the barest moment what it had been like. Heaven knew she hadn’t ever kissed such a beautiful man. She supposed she never would.
Harriet’s heart lowered. It was a pity there was no real Captain John Frakenham. If there had been, she’d want him to look just like this man, with his dark hair and blue eyes . . She sighed, admonishing herself for her silliness.
Still, somehow her fingers found their way through the man’s hair, and then traced the line of his brow to his cheek. His skin was warm beneath her fingertips, his skin shadowed by a day’s growth of facial hair.
If this really were the captain, she could kiss him with impunity. Kiss him because he was a man and because he was hers. The idea made her tingle, and, without another thought, she leaned forward and pressed her lips to his.
For an instant, a warm shiver shot through her, raising the fine hair on her arms and tightening her chest. It was as if she’d stepped through a blast of hot air, her body absorbing the warmth.
Then something happened. The heat intensified. Harriet opened her eyes and found she was right. She had indeed stepped into a blast of heat—one that emanated from his blue, blue eyes. The man was no longer asleep.
Just as in the story, Prince Charming had awakened with a kiss.