Deleted from Chapter Fourteen
Emmie was up early the next morning, making bread dough more out of habit and for St. Just’s household than because it was needed. The earl came upon her in the kitchen, and watched in silence as she kneaded and turned, kneaded and turned. She glanced up at him without stopping.
“Good morning, St. Just.” She smiled, loving the sight of him, carelessly handsome, domestic, and yet so overwhelmingly male. The ladies in York would probably pay him…
“Good morning.” His tone was grave, the light in his eyes unreadable. “I want to kiss you, you know.” He seemed mesmerized by the repetitive movements of her hands on the dough.
“Well, don’t,” Emmie replied, turning her attention back to her task. “We’ve been good lately and I would like to build on that trend.”
He sighed. “I wouldn’t. I want to toss you over my shoulder and chain you to my bed until you agree to marry me.” He turned and set about fixing himself a cup of tea. “Val tells me that method found favor with many sophisticated cultures of old.”
“You’d take advice from your little brother?” Emmie nudged a strand of hair away from her face with her wrist.
“I’d take advice from the pope, sweetheart, if he could tell me how to change your mind,” St. Just said quietly. “Would you like a cup of tea?”
“I will miss the hell out of you.” St. Just turned his back to fuss with her tea.
“I’ll miss you too,” Emmie said, kneading the dough within an inch of her strength.
“But you won’t tell me you love me?” St. Just passed her the tea and leaned back against the counter, watching her.
“Would it hurt more or less if I made the admission?” she asked, effectively making it without making it.
“I don’t think it can hurt any more than it already does,” St. Just said reflectively. “But it probably will. When is dear Vicar Bothwell getting back?”
“Day after tomorrow,” Emmie said, shoving at the same strand.
“So you will be tidily ensconced back in your cottage when he comes to call.” St. Just took a sip of tea. “Suppose that’s for the best. You sure there’s nothing I can get you in York? Some almond paste or candied violets? Raisins? I think raisins would be a nice addition to the apple tarts.”
“Only if you can keep them from burning,” Emmie replied. “There’s nothing, but thank you… St. Just?”
“Hmm?” He stepped closer and tucked the errant strand behind her ear. Emmie’s hands were wrist deep in bread dough, so she just leaned into him, her forehead against his sternum.
“Safe journey,” she murmured.
His arm settled around her shoulders. “It doesn’t seem real, does it?” he asked, rubbing her crown with his chin. “Doesn’t seem possible the day after tomorrow, you’ll be gone, and I’ll be here, and that will be that.”
“It has to be possible.” Emmie straightened and met his gaze. “I cannot go on like this, and neither can you, and neither can Winnie.”
“I know.” He sighed again and stepped back. “So away I go, to spend this day where I won’t see you packing, or see Winnie watching you packing.”
She nodded, acknowledging the reality that they were in a time of suffering.
“I’ll see you and those tarts at dinner tonight, Emmie Farnum, unless the weather should delay me. Save me a tart in any case.”
“I will.” Emmie stared at the bread dough while he kissed her cheek, and let him go without another word, leaving his tea half finished, sitting on the counter. When she’d put the dough into bread pans, she sat down, cradled the still warm cup in her damp hands, and tried not to cry.