“Because I knew you wouldn’t say no. Your father’s freedom depended on your answer.”
“You’re Duncan James. You could have any woman. I’ll never understand why you picked me.”
He smiled and leaned down to kiss her. Tess pulled away shaking her head. “I’m not ready for that.”
“You’ll need to be ready in two weeks.”
“But not today. I agreed to marry you. You’ve got any number of women on your list to bed. I don’t want to be another notch on your bedpost or anything else you think. This will be a marriage in name only.”
Duncan smiled. She was only setting a challenge to him. He couldn’t wait to get started in breaking down her barriers.
“Fine, we’ll play it your way. In two weeks you’ll be mine, Tess.”
Tess nodded at him waiting for him to say something else. When no other words were spoken she made her way to the door. Her exit was silent. She felt uneasy and for some strange reason as if she had sold her soul to the devil in order to help her father. Tess rode down the elevator with her heart aching. She knew her life was about to take one of two paths. One was filled with love and happiness, and the other was so painful she could not bear to think about. She didn’t know where her thoughts came from, only that the feeling wouldn’t go away.
She tried shaking off the doomed feeling, but it followed her for the rest of the day. Before she went home she stopped off at the supermarket. She’d booked a day off at the library. The rest of the day would be spent baking at home.
Once inside her small apartment, Tess went straight to the kitchen. She tore her jacket off then turned on the oven. All of the ingredients she’d purchased at the supermarket were spread out on the counter. Tess gathered her bowls and began measuring out everything she needed. While she gave herself up to the pleasure of the kitchen she could forget about the meeting she’d had with Duncan.
She zested lemons and squeezed the juice. For the rest of the morning and into the afternoon she absorbed herself in the pleasure of the kitchen. When everything was done she collapsed on her sofa. All the energy had been sucked out of her from that meeting and the cooking.