Morgan hadn't meant to disturb her. He had watched her walk into the office and merely wanted to see what she was up to. He quietly walked down the hall and stood by the door while she traced each book along one shelf with the tip of a finger, as though she thought she would break them if she was any rougher. He stood at the door silently and observed how happy she was when she finally found whatever book it was that she had found. Then to his surprise, she curled herself on the sofa and began reading.
She was so beautiful to him at that moment that it was hard for him to remain in the shadows of the doorway, but he had. He took in the way her face changed with every emotion the page she was reading moved into. He loved the way she bit against her lower lip then hurriedly turned the page as if she didn't want to miss a single detail of the story. It was such simple elegance that it threatened to steal his heart and his mind.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to startle you," he apologized at the way she snapped up and stood.
"It's fine," she hurried back to the shelf and replaced the book in the exact spot he had seen her take it from. "I should've asked first, just in case your wife had come in here instead of you."
Morgan couldn't help the smile that stole his lips at that moment. He bowed his head before looking up at her again. Her head was down. "My wife? Well, I don't think she'd mind," he played along.
"She wouldn't mind a strange woman in her office reading her books?"
"No. What were you reading when I came in?"
"Pride and Prejudice."
"Ah, yes. I think that book belonged to my mother." Morgan walked around her but didn't take the space that he could have. He took the path of least resistance and much risk. It was the path that carried him by her so that his shoulder brushed her gently. He reached up, pulled down the book, and dragged a thumb over it. He then handed it back to her.
"I can't," she whispered.
"It belonged to your mother and since she's not here to take care of Fletcher, I'm going to assume that she's-- I can't."
"You're afraid she'd haunt you?"
"Don't be trite. I'm merely stressing the fact that as a stranger, I shouldn't be handling it since it obviously means a lot to you."
"Laila," he said her name and to him it sounded like a prayer. "It's alright. She'd want you to read it. She was a strong believer in the saying that if you read only one book in your lifetime, it should be this one. Would you like to have a glass of wine with me on the balcony?"
He saw her face grow from concern, to worry, to shock. He watched the wheels inside her head turn. She was over thinking it. He could see it by the way her fingers tightened over the book when she took it from him. He could tell by the way her forehead wrinkled slightly and she bit against her lower lip. But he could really tell from the faraway look in her eyes.
"Come now, Laila. It's only a glass of wine. I am not asking you to make mad, passionate love to me under the light of the moon--though that wouldn't be a bad thing."
"Don't say things like that." She tried to walk by him, but he caught her hand in his. "Mr. Stillwell--"
"Morgan or Rafe. Mr. Stillwell is my father."
"Short for Raphael," he told her.
There was a slight silence that washed over the room. Her skin where he held her felt hot. He didn't want to let her go but he knew he had to so he released her. "Just say yes to the wine--nothing more."