“Thus the honorable Sir Gareth met his end upon Sir Lancelot’s blade and the mourning for his passing echoed in the great hall of Camelot.” Logan closed the book and looked up at Mae Pike. His throat was dry from reading, but at least he’d passed a few hours of this awkward day.
Mae sat in the chair he’d gallantly surrendered to her once she’d stopped flitting around the cabin, pretending to be busy. She appeared finally relaxed, staring into the fire but seeing knights and ladies.
“You must get lonely living here by yourself.” Logan regretted the words as the woman visibly tensed and straightened and lost that lovely dreamy look in her eyes.
“I haven’t much choice. My husband was taken from me.” She glared at him.
Logan nodded. Reading the Gareth tale he used to admire so as a boy, he’d realized the exploits of noble knights no longer inspired him. He’d had his fill of killing and death—even in fiction.
“What about your own people? Your father with the store?” he asked.
“My parents both died before Gray was killed. They left behind little. I have no place to go home to. This is my home now.” She spoke dully as if the cabin were a prison cell.
“I’m sorry for your loss,” Logan said. “Surely you could sell this place and move into town, perhaps find a job working in a store since you have experience.”
“Everyone around here is barely scraping by. There’s no one to buy my land and no one who would hire me.” She rose and shook out her skirts. “But what do you care? You’re going home to a victory parade.”
Logan set the book on the table and stood. “There is no victory here. No one is gloating. Every man I know just wants to make whatever life he can from what’s left behind.” He moved close to her and looked down into her eyes. “Don’t think it’s any different on the other side.”
Rain pattered on the roof of the cabin, quiet, hushed, and the cabin was dim and intimate. For several moments he and Mae Pike stood face to face, staring into each other’s eyes. Hers were a pale gray but the pupils had dilated so they seemed very dark. Her lips parted and it was so quiet he heard her exhalation.
Logan tentatively reached out a hand to touch the side of her face. So soft. Her cheek felt like satin beneath his callused fingers. He caressed the strong, stubborn line of her jaw, and held his breath. Any second now she would slap his hand away.
But she didn’t. Instead, her tongue swept out and dampened her lips.
Magnetically drawn by that tiny movement, he inclined his face toward hers. At that moment a kiss seemed more important than fire or water, food or shelter, or even air. He had to have it or die.
Logan stopped a breath away from her mouth. What would Sir Gareth do? That noble gentleman would never take advantage of a lady. He would fall on his own sword first.
But Logan wasn’t feeling so honorable. He touched his lips to hers.