Elsie wrapped her arms around Hildreth’s waist.
He stopped and leaned back against her. “Mmm.”
“Mmm, yourself. Are you sure your foot’s strong enough for this?”
“Honey, if I weren’t sure, I’d still be sitting on your couch.” He stroked her hands. “Don’t worry. I’m fine. Foot’s feeling one hundred percent.”
“If it dips anything below one hundred percent and I mean like 99 percent, you need to stop and take it easy.”
“Elsie Vansing. Look at you. All worried about me.”
She held him a little tighter.
“mmm. Now. What am I supposed to do? You’re standing behind me all nice and snug, but I’m all cold and lonely over here.”
She released him.
“Oh, dear. Now, my back is all cold. Oh, dear. Whatever will I do to warm myself up?”
“You are such an idiot.”
He turned around.
The desire in her expression took him by surprise. “Elsie.”
She dug her fingers in his hair. “Say my name again.”
He laughed. “Elsie. Els—”
She pushed him against the punching dummy and kissed him.
He spread his hands on her back and drew her in closer.
Don’t stop. Don’t stop. Please. Please. Please don’t stop. Don’t…
She stopped and moved her mouth away from his.
“Els. Please. Don’t. Please. I wa…I…I…”
“It…it isn’t fair. Doing that to me and then telling me no. Not fair, Els.”
“I’m sorry. But we’re so close. Only eight more days.”
He leaned his head back and struggled to catch his breath.
Eight more days.
Two plus six.
Three plus five.
Four plus four.
Five plus three.
Six plus two.
Seven plus one.
It’s a long time to wait no matter how you divide it up.
I could be obnoxious and insist on doing it now.
But it’s only eight more days.
He looked at her.
Her black hair surrounded her face in tangled up frizz.
Her gold eyes bright and clear of any anger or stress.
The broad leather belt around her tunic shirt had a man-confounding array of buttons and gears instead of a buckle.
He moved his hands down to her waist.
If she told me yes, I’d figure that belt out in record time, fueled by the sheer power of raging hormones.
Her black jeans were too basic for him to get all excited about. So, he had nothing to think about them. He just observed them and moved on back up to her face.
Eight more days. Sounds like forever.
Waiting was my idea.
She’s just trying to honor my wishes/humor me. Whatever the case may be. So, I guess I can’t complain too loudly.
“Eight days, huh?” Hildreth nodded. “Okay.” He pumped his fist into the air. “I accept this challenge.”
He lowered his hand. “Just don’t go pushing me up against stuff and getting me all worked up into a physical tizzy only to tell me ‘Whoops! Never mind’.”
“As long as you don’t do it to me.”
Hildreth grinned and pulled her closer. He kissed her.
She automatically reached for his hair.
He grabbed her hands, raised them, swerved to the other side of her, and led Elsie into a waltz.
She didn’t resist or object.
She let him lead her around his training room.
There was no music playing this time, but neither one noticed or even cared. They were just happy to be in each other’s arms.
They finished right where they began – in front of the punching dummy.
He grinned at her. “What did I tell you? My foot is at 100%.”
She grinned back at him. “Apparently.”