“You are jealous.”

Rules of Decorum ~ An Excerpt

Handsome and far too captivating, he twisted around to face her, his eyes widening in mock horror. “You are jealous,” he announced with certainty.

Her denial was swift. “Of course not. I was merely concerned for your welfare.”

“Forgive me, Miss Johnson I am still trying to understand what occurred that day.” He chuckled. “Yet might I assume—are you admitting—that you do have a care for me?”

The captain was an excellent interrogator. However, she had not survived the last three years without some cunning of her own. “You are twisting my words.” She sniffed with irritation. “I said no such thing.”

He laughed and leaned forward, causing her to shrink back. “I think you did.”

Her discomfort increased. “What atrocities did I blubber during the throes of fever?”

“Really, Miss Johnson?” He leaned closer. “You are going to blame the fever for your sick bed confessions?”

“I am!” she asserted, annoyed that he seemed to be enjoying her discomfort, “And I must say it is very arrogant of you to suggest such a thing. You do not hold title to my heart.”

Those all-seeing eyes swept her face. “And that is a blatant lie, Miss Johnson.” His victorious gleam was unnerving. “Suppose we put it to the test?”

Eugenia narrowed her eyes, feeling even more piqued. The man’s persistence was unbelievable. “What sort of test?”

He scooted a fraction closer. “Give me one kiss. If you do not find it agreeable, then I will accept your claim that you hold no affection for me.”

“One kiss?” Eugenia scoffed.

“One.” He leaned back, resting his elbows on the porch rail, the thrill of challenge resplendent in his blue eyes.

“This is ridiculous.”

“Admit it. You are afraid.” He snapped his fingers. “I suppose I win by default.”

Surely, she did not hear him correctly. He did not just claim victory. Soaring high on the bravery of indignation, she leaned forward and pecked him on the prickly beard of his cheek. “There! Still conscious.”

The captain roared with laughter. “What an adorable little cheat you are! My saintly mother kisses me with more enthusiasm!

Come,” he urged, leaning closer. “Kiss me, sweet Eugenia.” He tapped his lips indicating her target. “Right here.”