The Rejected Suitor
Teresa McCarthy



Emily stepped deeper into the trees. Rain hammered the maze and branches scratched her back as she tried to decide which trail would lead her home.

“Nigel?” she whispered, feeling miserable. “Where are you, boy?”

The sound of treading earth met her ears. Her heart banged against her chest.

“Lady Emily.” Before she could do more than turn around, she found herself gazing into a pair of cool amber eyes.

“What the devil are you doing here by yourself?” Jared asked harshly.

She blinked. What was she doing here?

He whipped off his dark cloak and placed it about her shoulders, not waiting for an answer. She shivered at his touch, pressing her lips together in both anger and relief. He towered over her like some Viking king. Breeches clung to his muscular thighs, and his tanned hands rested on tapered hips. She swallowed.

He leaned over, his hand innocently brushing her cheek as he fastened the clip. His warm breath whispered along her neck, and Emily wanted to fall into his safe embrace, seeking the comfort she remembered so vividly. She wanted to ask him why he had left her, why he had broken her heart, but the iciness in his voice brought her back.

“Traipsing into this maze was a stupid thing to do, madam.”

She refused to let him make her feel like a fool again.

“Your dog Nigel was the one who led me here,” she countered.

“My dog, madam, is the one who found you.” The culprit gave a sudden bark and appeared around the corner, as if daring Emily to dismiss his heroism.