Excerpt—ON THE WINGS OF LOVE

 

“I want to see my aeroplane,” he said. “Just a look. Then I’ll know how soon I can be flying again.”

“There’s a balcony at the end of the hall,” she said. “You can see it from there.”
“Will you help me?” His green-flecked eyes engulfed her.

“On one condition.” Alex took a deep breath. “I noticed your aeroplane has a second seat. When you’re able to fly again, you must promise to take me up with you.”

He scowled. “It’s too risky.”

“Not for you.”

“Your father would have my hide.”

“My father wouldn’t have to know.”

“And what if something were to go wrong?”

“Then neither of would be in a position to care, would we?” Alex shrugged with feigned disinterest. “Promise me or lie there and rot. It’s up to you.” She turned her back on him and took a step toward the door.

“Wait!”

Alex spun around to find him laughing.

“Why, you stubborn little chit!” he exclaimed. “You’d really leave me, wouldn’t you? All right. One very short flight. As soon as my aeroplane and I are mended. Now, come here and help me get up.”

Together they made their way through the door and down the thickly carpeted hall. Rafe was silent, concentrating on each step, wincing when a movement hurt him. Once he stumbled, and Alex’s arm went around his waist to steady him. He was, she realized, wearing nothing at all under the thin silk pajamas.

A glass door at the end of the hallway opened onto a small balcony that overlooked the back lawn. “There!” Alex pointed as they reached the railing. “See, there’s your aeroplane at the far end of the lawn!”

Rafe let go of her, braced himself with one arm on the railing and used his free hand to shade his eyes. “If I were only closer!” he muttered.

“Can’t you tell anything from here?”

“Not enough. You were right about the wings. They don’t look badly damaged. And the rear elevators can be fixed. But the engine and the propeller...” He shook his head. “I’d have to see them up close.”

“Why be so concerned? You built it once. You can build it again.”

“Yes. But how much time will it take? How much money?” He turned bitter eyes on Alex. “You’ve no understanding of what’s involved—people like you, with everything at their fingertips. You don’t know what it’s like to go without heat in the winter, to go without cigars and haircuts and decent meals just so you can buy an engine piece by piece and put it together, so you can afford the right kind of wood for the braces, the right kind of wire, the right kind of linen canvas.” His knuckles whitened on the railing of the balcony. “Damn it, how can anyone who’s always had whatever they wanted understand that kind of love?”

Alex had listened quietly to his outburst, but her own indignation was building. “That’s the most arrogant crock of nonsense I ever heard!” she flared. “You think you’re better than I am because you’ve had to struggle! You think that building an aeroplane qualifies you for some kind of sainthood! Well, maybe it does! Maybe you are an expert on that kind of love! But let me tell you something, Rafe Garrick! You have no tact at all, no gratitude, no consideration for people at all! There are other kinds of love, and you don’t seem to know anything about them!”

She whirled away from him and started for the door that led back into the hallway. Let him stay there. Let him crawl back to bed by himself or shout for help. She wasn’t putting up with his self-righteous arrogance another second!

She had almost reached the door when he caught her. His hand seized her shoulder with the strength of an iron vise and he whipped her back toward him. “Don’t tell me what I don’t know!” he muttered, jerking her hard against his chest.

His kiss arched her backward over his arm. Alex struggled against his strong hands and brutally seeking lips. Then suddenly, incredibly, she felt herself responding. A ripple of fevered excitement coursed through her as she softened against him and felt the hard contours of his aroused body through the thin silk. Her lips went molten beneath his. Her fingers dug into his flesh, clinging, demanding. Madness. It was running away with her and she couldn’t stop it—didn’t want to stop it.

No! Something in her was still fighting him, still struggling for control. This was insanity. He had no right!

He released her, and she spun away from him. They stood a pace apart, both of them breathing heavily. As Alex stared at him, she felt panic welling up in her body. She’d wanted a life in which there was no question of her being in control. Now, suddenly, she felt threatened. Rafe Garrick was all the things she despised in a man, all the things she had spent her life protecting herself from. And he had just violated her safe, well-ordered world.

Rage and fear exploded in her. Her hand came up and she struck him with all her strength across the face. The force of her own blow sent her staggering backward.
He did not move. He did not laugh, scowl or even wince. Only his eyes mocked her anger as he spoke. “If it’s an apology you’re wanting—”

“No!” Alex spat out the word. “I’d never accept anything of the kind! Not from you!”

He laughed then, bitter, knowing laughter, as she whirled toward the door. It was as if he saw through her anger, as if he knew how deeply he had stirred her, and how frightened she was of her own emotions. Damn him. Oh, damn him!

Slamming the door behind her, she hurtled down the hall. Her face burned. Her eyes stung. She wanted to hide. Damn Rafe Garrick! She never wanted to see him again!
 

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From the book: ON THE WINGS OF LOVE by Elizabeth Lane
Copyright © 2008 by Harlequin Enterprises, Limited
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The edition published by arrangement with Harlequin Books, S.A.
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