The dance completed, he didn't immediately take her back to her chair but pulled her arm through the crook of his and walked slowly in the direction of the card room.
"I shall miss them too, but I made you a promise, so I hope to see you again. I should only be gone a day or two."
Marianne was only mildly startled when he drew her to an open window then a little further into the garden so they were out of sight. "Mrs. Middleton--"
"Damn Mrs. Middleton!" he snapped. "I know we can't stay here long, but I wanted to talk to you. Will you miss me, Marianne?"
"Yes." Her reply was almost a sob, but she couldn't lie to him.
"Thank you," he whispered and, before she could guess what he was at, drew her to him and gave her a quick, hard kiss.
It didn't last long, but, just for that moment, Marianne felt his hard body against hers, his warmth and vital humanity. She felt instantly protected and cared for. But this was dangerous.