"So, you're filling out a bit, I see." He tightened his grip just below her breasts. "A full belly hasn't improved your temper though. Now, be still, little bundle. I'm your master an' I have the right to do as I like with you."
"Do as you like?" Isabella squirmed away from him. With violently shaking hands she straightened her skirt. Her cheeks flamed when she looked up to see he watched her every movement closely, as if it was his right. The twinkle in his eyes made her temper rise. "I'll kill myself if you take what you see as your rights. Anyway, what would you want with the likes of me when you have so many other women chasing after you?"
"Oho, so you've heard the tales of my exploits with the fair sex, have you? I feel I must set you straight on that account. There aren't that many. But you're right on one thing. I wouldn't fancy you in a fit. I prefer my women to be amenable." He placed his hands on his hips, returning her stare with the arrogance that set her teeth on edge.
"Then I'm saved from a fate worse than death, for amenable I'll never be." Isabella stepped out of his reach. But to her horror he made a grab for her, grasping her hand. She tugged but he refused to release it.
"Now then, which fruit did you want?" he asked, his tone now quite pleasant. "Perhaps I can reach it without resorting to climbing the tree."
Isabella stared at him, then pointed to a bunch within easy reach for him. "That one, and those there." She breathed a small sigh of relief when he finally let her go then reached up to pluck them.
"Hold out your apron," he ordered, dropping the apples in. "There, will that satisfy Thelma?"
Pulling free the cloth tied round his neck, he used it to wipe his brow. As he retied it he watched her like a cat stares at a cornered mouse.
"I ... I think so." Isabella gathered her apron to her chest and turned to flee, but he caught her by the arm again.
"Bella. Satisfy my curiosity, will you?"
His soft tone made her suspicious. She watched him cautiously. "How?"
"Are you happy here in my household?" he asked softly, those strange eyes of his searching hers.
"As happy as any woman can be working for an Englishman." That was a dreadful lie, for she'd seldom been happier.
"You're not yet a woman, Bella. You have a lot to learn about how real women behave."
She disagreed, but wasn't about to go into that argument now.Mystic Mountains is available here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00EFE5UL6