Excerpt from Emily's Vow

     "My apologies." Emily glared at Frank, no hint of remorse in her posture or her voice. All trace of tears vanished like so much spilled water on a hot summer's day. "I know how you despise any sign of emotion. Do not take that attitude with me, though. I shall not stand for it."
     She did not need to be rude. Of course he did not mind emotion. People emoted all the time around him, and he did not care. He—no, more to the point, he and her father were only looking out for her and the rest of the family. Frank straightened. See now, even he was emoting.
     "Do not attempt to avoid the bald fact that, number one, you have absolutely no business being out of the house at this time of night." Frank held up one hand and pointed at a finger as he counted off his very valid reasons. "Number two, you're alone, for goodness sake! Have you absolutely no regard for your father's feelings? How would he feel if something disastrous befell you?"
     He held a finger to her lips when she dared to open her mouth to speak, ignoring with difficulty the sudden intense desire shooting through him. "I'm not through."
     She closed her mouth, pressing her ruby lips together into a mutinous pout, and he nodded. The desire to kiss her speared through him, but he grimly continued his harangue.
     "Finally, it was you writing those missives of dissent you call essays?" That new comprehension set his heartbeat pounding in his ears. "What will your father say when he learns of this betrayal?"
     "Betrayal?" Emily frowned at him, her lovely eyes clouding. "I have not betrayed anyone. You dare to betray me with your lack of insight and understanding. 'Missives of dissent' indeed!"
     She'd gone too far now by traipsing about town after all he and her father had said to impress on her the risk to her person. He needed a fitting punishment to force her to comply.
     "Emily, please, hear me." Despite her current agitation, she possessed a captivating golden beauty, with dark blonde locks, eyes that drew him in, and rosy lips begging for his kiss. No wonder the damn soldiers paid so much attention to her.
     "Does this mean you will not print this one either?" Emily waved at the paper on the floor neither bothered to retrieve. "Is this the end or the beginning of my writing?"
     "If it's going to raise as much of an uproar as I suspect—" Frank hesitated as an idea dawned. Yes, that would work. "I will on one condition."
     Wary hope replaced the anger in Emily's gaze. She clutched her purse, her chest quickly rising and falling as she waited.
     "Condition?" she whispered, then swallowed.
     Frank nodded at her awareness of the import of his next words. "I wish to court you, Emily."
     "Court me?" she parroted.
     The glimmering hope in her eyes changed to worry. She glanced away from him, her gaze flitting from one object to another around the room like a bird suddenly caged.
     "Yes, I do wish to court you properly. And you must agree to wait for me to escort you, no excuses. This is for not only your safety but for my peace of mind." Frank closed the distance between them. He laid her purse on the counter behind her and gently enfolded both her quivering hands in his. "You can't deny you're attracted to me as much as I am to you."
     Emily tugged on her hands, and he let them slide out of his.
     "If I say no?" She raised her chin, her hands grasping her upper arms in a defensive gesture, barring him access to her. "What then?"
     "Simple, my dear. I tell your father what you have been doing."
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