The Masked Fae (Royal Fae of Rose Briar Woods 1) - Page 63

I try to smile. “I suppose we’ll find out soon.”

He laughs under his breath, taking off his hat and shoving a hand through his thick hair.

“We had a full staff when I lived here,” I say absently. “Even when Gustin stayed out all night, I was never alone.”

After a moment, Brahm sits next to me on the floor. He looks as if he doesn’t know what to say.

“What time do you think they’ll arrive in the morning?” I ask. “When do I need to leave so they won’t find me?”

“Tomorrow is the beginning of the holiday week,” he says. “I believe Wallen gave the caretakers the time off.”

A sad thought strikes me. Slowly, I turn to look into the corner.

“What is it?” he asks.

“That’s where the tree goes,” I whisper. “It’s been there every year for as long as I can remember. When I was a child, I thought it was the prettiest thing, all lit with candles. I’d make hard ginger cookies with the cook, and we’d string them from the boughs. Grandmother played the piano in the evenings until arthritis in her fingers made it impossible. After that, I took over.”

“You play?” he asks, following my gaze to the empty corner where the piano used to sit.

I rub my hands together. “I do. But even if the piano were still here, my fingers would be too cold to play for you.”

Brahm scoots closer. He removes his gloves and then takes my hands. He clasps them between his larger ones and brings them to his mouth. He blows hot air that must be laced with magic because it feels like I just slipped into a warm bath. Every inch of me goes warm, and I lean forward, blissfully content.

“If you can do that, why didn’t you do it earlier?” I laugh.

When I look up, I realize our faces are only inches apart. Brahm still has my hands, and his thumb rubs over my skin.

“I’m glad you’re safe,” he says, his voice deep with emotion. “I’m truly sorry.”

“What will happen when you go back?”

“I don’t know,” he says honestly.

I tighten my hands over his. “Then stay here. Don’t return.”

His gaze moves over my face, and he drops his voice. “You have no idea how tempted I am by that offer.”

He lowers my hands, setting me free…but he doesn’t shift away. He gives me the choice to stay close or move back. Slowly, he lifts his hand to my face, caressing my cheek before he slides his fingers under my hair to cup the back of my neck.

My heart leaps, and fear mingles with desire.

Brahm gives me several seconds to protest our nearness. When I don’t, he touches his lips to mine.

It’s a feather-soft kiss, so gentle I feel as if I might cry. I lean into him as he kisses me again, placing my hands on his shoulders, drowning in sensation.

His mouth is warm and tender, the kiss sweet and telling. It’s not about passion—it’s a wordless confession.

I care for you.

It’s like sunrise chasing away night, leaving me standing in the light of warm morning. Even when it’s over, I bask in its glow.

Brahm leans in once more to finish with a last, brief kiss.

We then study each other, chests rising and falling in tandem, marveling in the quiet newness. I feel like a butterfly, emerging into the world on new wings.

I raise my hand to the edge of his silken mask. “May I?”

“Say my name,” he says hoarsely, his fingers gently moving against the back of my neck.

Tags: Shari L. Tapscott Royal Fae of Rose Briar Woods Fantasy
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