I know how much you guys have been looking forward to Honoria & Solomon’s story, His Forbidden Bride (spicy)/Honoria: The Forbidden Bride (sweet). Well, it’s almost here! It’ll be out in one week! So why not read a little bit of it today? Think it will satisfy you or make you more excited? *wiggles eyebrows*
She made it almost all the way to the intersection with Elizabeth Street before hearing Solomon’s concerned call of, “Honoria, stop!”
She could only managed a few more, tripping steps before lurching to a halt. Rough coughing stopped her. She shouldn’t be running, as sick as she was. She held her handkerchief to her mouth, helpless to do anything but wait until Solomon caught up with her.
“Honoria, my god.” He skipped straight past politeness and gripped her arms as he reached her.
Honoria’s coughing subsided, and she let her hand fall from her mouth. “I…” She couldn’t meet her eyes, could only stare down at the contrast between her white handkerchief and the dark brown skin of his hands. “I…” She couldn’t. She couldn’t burden him.
Only, before she could summon up the strength to break free from his supporting hands, Solomon said, “Elspeth told me what you said to her.”
Honoria snapped her eyes up to meet his, full of fear. Would he reject her now? The one person she admired above all else?
No, there was so much tenderness, so much regret in his eyes that all she could do was break down into sobs and nod.
“No,” he whispered.
And right there, in broad daylight, directly across from the hotel, near one of the busiest intersections in Haskell, Solomon Templesmith pulled her into a tight embrace, resting her head against his shoulder. No one, not even her own father, would ever show her so much sympathy. Solomon was little more than a stranger, forbidden in so many ways, but the comfort he was offering turned her inside out and made her feel as though she was floating in the midst of her misery. She wept freely against his shoulder, leaning heavily into the firm muscles of his chest, closing her arms around his back. She’d dreamed of this moment with him for years, only to have it come at the end.
They might have stood there for hours or it might have only been seconds when Solomon said, “Tell me all about it.”
Sense returned to her slowly. She gulped a few breaths, working to have the power to stand on her own. As soon as she could, she pushed back, wiping away her tears and straightening her back. It still took several deep, deliberate breaths before she could raise her gaze to meet his.
“Dr. Abernathy says I have consumption,” she admitted, her voice shaking like tall grass in a storm. “He says I have months left.”
Solomon’s expression crumpled into extreme sympathy. “Oh, Honoria, I’m so sorry.”
He could have left her right there, but instead he took her hand and led her over to the side of the road, to a bench that sat out in front of Charlie and Olivia Garrett’s house. He helped her to sit, then sat beside her. Out of the corner of her eyes, Honoria spotted several people looking on curiously, including Mr. Gunn on the hotel’s porch. She didn’t mind his observation, but she wished everyone else would disappear. She wished everyone in the world but her and Solomon would disappear.
“What precisely did Dr. Abernathy say?” Solomon asked in a solid, businesslike voice.
Honoria wrung her handkerchief, used it to dabbed her eyes, and gathered her thoughts. Solomon was sitting too close to her, but at that moment she truly didn’t care.
“I…I’ve had this cough for quite some time,” she began in a weak and weary voice. “Bonnie—you know, Bonnie Horner, who’s walking out with my father—has been urging me to see a doctor.”
“Bonnie is a wise woman.” Solomon nodded.
Honoria managed a small smile for praise of the woman who—in spite of having her father for a beau—was vilified more often than not in the Bonneville house.
Her smile faded fast. “I went to see Dr. Meyers first thing this morning. He examined me. He even ran a test with chemicals that he explained were new and helped diagnose disease.” Solomon made an impressed sound. “But he was called away by an army officer. Dr. Abernathy takes over his cases when Dr. Meyers is away, so I left and went about my business until this afternoon.” She sniffled as recent, bad memories assailed her. “I went to Dr. Abernathy for the results just now, and he told me.” She squeezed her eye shut, and more tears streamed down her face.
“Could Dr. Abernathy have been wrong?” Solomon asked.
Honoria shook her head. He had Dr. Meyers’s file. I saw Dr. Meyers writing in that file while he was examining me.”
Solomon’s shoulder sagged. “I’m so sorry.” He rubbed Honoria’s back, sliding his arm around her and letting her rest her head on his shoulder from the side.
“My life has been such a waste,” she blurted before she could stop herself. Her tears continued to spill.
“Don’t say that.” Solomon’s voice was so tender that it only made her weep harder.
“But it’s true. I’ve let myself be pushed around and bullied by my sisters since Mama died. I’ve lived a half-life. And there were so many things I wanted to do.”
“What did you want to do?” He brushed a loose strand of hair away from her forehead.
Honoria sighed, closing her eyes. “I wanted to make something of myself. I wanted to do something with my skills, help people. I…I wanted to fall in love, marry, and have children.” Her voice faded to a wisp as she mourned all of the children she’d never have now.
Oooh! Excited for more! You only have to wait one week! His Forbidden Bride/Honoria: The Forbidden Bride comes out next Friday, September 2nd!