Read more about Heaven Scent by visiting Sophie Greyson at her website www.sophiegreyson.com.
With her back against the side of Templar Hall, Tarin peeked around the corner. Mr. Wallace guarded the door like the entrance to The White House. Blast the man.
She had tried to sneak in on several occasions with no success. She had come close twice but had backed away when latecomers brought Wallace to the door.
If Tarin was caught sneaking inside the men’s seminar, she would ruin her chances of becoming one of Dr. Gregory’s first students at the college. Yet, how was she supposed to be a competent midwife and eventual physician when knowledge was kept from her because she was a woman? How did she know what she missed by not being a man?
Tarin peered in the window behind her. Dr. Gregory had a great crowd tonight. It thrilled her to know his lectures were so popular in Boston. They had caused quite a stir since his publication “Man-Midwifery Exposed” was released.
She turned back to peek around the corner. A hand clamped over her mouth. Her heart stopped. A silent scream rose in her throat and held. She tried to turn, but the attacker held her head motionless in one hand.
Tarin lashed out, kicking her attacker in the shin. His hand on her mouth tightened before he pulled her back against his chest. She could feel the heat emanating from him, the incredible strength, the immense height. She felt as though she were in shackles, her arms locked at her sides. Tarin was helpless except for her legs, which were hampered by her skirts. Her kicks were futile against his strength.
Father had warned her about wandering the city alone. So had Kitty.
And Rafe. Her stomach clenched into a ball. Why hadn’t she called him? He had offered to escort her wherever she needed to go. And heaven knew walking on the strong arm of Rafe Sutherland was a pleasure only the most fortunate of women experienced. But he would have never approved of her attendance at this lecture and would have prevented her from coming.
Now she was in the clutches of a madman just outside a hall full of men and they did not know her plight.
What Tarin did know was that she could not stop fighting. She stomped back on his foot. Perhaps he would eventually tire and let her go. She had to try.
“As soon as you are through kicking me, I’ll let you go.”
Rafe. She relaxed against him, feeling a brief sense of security before anger took over. That dirty, rotten scoundrel. Tarin’s heart started to beat again, rapidly, for a totally different reason. She was going to kill him.
Rafe turned her around to face him. His face was half hidden in the light shining through the window behind him. He held a finger to his lips as he glanced towards the hall. She couldn’t lash out at him or she would be heard.
But oh, she wanted to curse as she had never cursed before.
“You rogue,” she cried in a heated whisper, as she hit him on the arm. “You terrified me.”
“Serves you right for wandering around at night alone. I could’ve easily been someone else, Tarin.”
Ignoring the lead weight of guilt in her stomach, Tarin tried to summon up her life’s practice to stay pleasant in any situation. But, heaven help her, she wanted to throttle Rafe Sutherland as she had no other person.
“How did you know I was here?”
He had the nerve to grin at her. “I followed you.”
“You did not follow me,” she accused. “I was careful to watch for anyone behind me.”
“What kind of spy would I be if you spotted me?” he asked. “Besides, with that perfume of yours, I would find you anywhere in Boston.”
“You could smell me?”
Tarin wasn’t sure if he’d just insulted her or not. “Why did you follow me?”
“I told you not to wander out alone at night.” His clutch on her arm pulled Tarin closer, his grin arrogant. “I could’ve been an unsavory character rather than the dashing hero that I am.”
Tarin rolled her eyes. “You have quite the ego, Mr. Sutherland.”
“Quite.” His smile disappeared beneath a dark frown. “What are you doing here? What’s going on in there?” He nodded back towards the window.
Blast it. Now she had to confide in Rafe and risk him revealing her tomfoolery. If he revealed her secret, all of her plans would be ruined.
“Well, if you must know, I was trying to sneak into the hall.” She lifted her chin.
Rafe leaned around her to glance at the front door. “What’s going on in there?”
“They are conducting a men’s seminar on midwifery.”
That superior, arrogant frown appeared on his face again. “A men’s seminar. So what are you doing, trying to get in? You are certainly not a man.” His eyes ran down the length of her as though she were there for his benefit.
Ugh, he irritated her to no end. She felt as though she were revealing all of her innermost secrets to the world.
“I want to hear what Dr. Gregory has to say that is not said in the women’s seminar.”
Rafe studied her a long moment, her eyes never wavering from his. Tarin waited for the imminent tirade that was sure to come. The “if women were meant to hear it, they would have been invited” speech, the implication that men were superior to women, and that the subject matter was offensive to her delicate, feminine ears.
“I’ll get you in.”
His sudden grin stunned her. Tarin stilled, unable to believe her ears. “You will?”
He nodded. “But just as long as we are clear on one thing – ”
A thrill ran through her. Finally, she would get in! “Anything,” she said without hesitation.
“I am not responsible for what is said inside.”
Excitement bubbled inside of Tarin. She could not believe he was going to help her. “Of course. Why would you think that?”
“How do I say this… ” he paused, brow wrinkling. “Men tend to be more… direct in their conversations and comments.”
Was that all? “I’ll be fine.” She turned, eager to get inside before the seminar started. “Let’s go.”
His grip on her arm held her back. “What’s it worth to you?”
Tarin planted a hand on her hip. She should have known there would be a price. “I should’ve realized the chivalry you showed the other evening was an uncommon occurrence.”
“Need I remind you, Miss Worthington, that if I were a gentleman, I would not be sneaking you inside in the first place.”
Touché. Tarin dropped her hand. “So what kind of compensation are we discussing?” Surely, he would not expect her father’s shipping?
“I’m not sure,” Rafe replied, closing the distance between them. “Any suggestions?”
Tarin swallowed hard as their eyes held. Oh no, no, no. A kiss would not be wise. Not when he was proving to be more desirable by the second.
She was already entirely too attracted to him. To engage in a kiss in the moonlight would surely find her completely at his mercy.
“N-No, no suggestions…”
He took her chin in his hand. His thumb grazed her jaw. “None?” he whispered.
Heaven help her, she couldn’t think when he touched her. Not when her body screamed for a kiss that could only bring her trouble.
“What kind of woman do you take me for?”
He devoured her mouth with his eyes. “An intelligent, beautiful woman who’s passionate about her interests.”
Oh, he was sinful. Downright evil. Tarin wanted to grab him by the shirt and show him just how passionate she could be.
“So you propose a kiss, then?” she asked, her voice shaking.
He hesitated, brows drawn low. “Did I?”
Heat exploded in her face. Tarin had never felt so mortified. “Never mind –”
“Okay, I accept.”