Just like his taste, his hold brings back memories that don’t seem to be mine, memories of a man and woman in love. Images flash through my mind, none making since, all from a time hundreds of years ago.
“Gods.” He pulls away and is suddenly across the room, breathing heavy as he thrusts his hands through his hair.
With my hands shaking, and feeling more alone than I ever have in my life, I lift my fingers to my lips. “What was that?” My voice is softer than a whisper as I try to understand what just happened, what I just saw.
“It cannot be.”
“What was that?” I repeat, staring at him, and he lifts his head to look at me. The look in his eyes is filled with such pain I feel it like it’s my own. The glass in my hand slips from my grasp, shattering at my feet. I start to move, but before I can, I’m lifted off the ground and held tightly in Cameron’s arms. “Where are you taking me?” I wrap my arms around his shoulders.
My stomach flutters as his lips touch my temple. I hold onto him as he carries me up the stairs, and only release him when my back touches my mattress. “Cameron.”
“Not now, love. We’ll speak tomorrow.” He kisses my forehead and then pulls the blanket up over me. I watch him as he scrutinizes me and can tell he’s torn. When he turns out my lamp, the urge to ask him to stay is on the tip of my tongue. I bite it back, confused by all that has happened. “Sleep well, Isabel. Tomorrow will come soon enough.”
With that, he leaves through the door. I roll to my side then pull one of my pillows to my chest. I hold it close as my mind spins with a million questions.
Exhausted from not sleeping last night and disappointed that I haven’t seen Cameron this morning, I make my way through the castle to the library. Once inside, warm sunlight beats against my skin through an open window and I scan the room before me. There are hundreds of priceless antiques in this room alone. Books, paintings, and furniture—all of them needing to be assessed and documented for auction.
As much as my mind is on the job before me, I cannot stop thinking about last night, about the kiss Cameron and I shared, about what I saw and felt when I was in his arms. Shaking off the memory, knowing it’s too impossible to believe, I look around the room once more for a place to begin.
A small wooden box on top of a desk in the corner catches my attention and I make my way toward it. When I’m close, I run my fingers over the intricate engraving of flowers and leaves that were painstakingly rendered by hand. Heart suddenly pounding, I click open the hinged lock and hold my breath, lifting the lid. Folded inside neatly are dozens of silk ribbons, all different colors and sizes. I lift a deep red one and slide the soft silk through my fingers before bringing it to my nose. I’m not sure what I expect to smell, but the only scent is from the wood it’s been enclosed in. Still, there’s something familiar about the ribbons and the box.
“That’s not for sale.”
Jumping, I spin around to face Cameron, who is standing just inside the room, his hair tied back, dressed in slacks and an emerald green dress shirt.
“It shouldn’t have been left in here,” he adds.
“Sorry.” I turn, tucking the ribbon back into the box and closing the lid, oddly happy that some stranger won’t have the opportunity to bid on it at auction.
“Don’t apologize.” He’s suddenly right beside me, resting his hand over mine on the box. “Why, with everything else in this room, did you seek this out?”
“I… I don’t know.” I look up into his eyes. “It just caught my attention.”
“Does it seem familiar?” His dark eyes search mine, and I shake my head then nod. “Yes or no, little one?”
“Yes… kind of. I don’t know.” I pull my hand from under his then rub my forehead. This is all so strange. Everything about him and this place is oddly familiar, but how could that be?
“Who does it belong to?” I question, not expecting him to answer.
“My betrothed.” His eyes leave mine and he opens the lid off the box. Reaching inside with one finger, he picks up the same ribbon I held moments ago. “When I was courting her, I knew she enjoyed trinkets, so I made the box for her then over time filled it with ribbons and such.”
With my throat clogged, I ask, “What happened to her?”
“She was murdered on the eve before our wedding.”
I cover my mouth with my fingers as tears pool in my eyes.