by Jena Galifany
Anna Scott could see snippets of the future, what was going to happen before it happened. She was young, too young to know how to use this gift to her advantage. In fact, sometimes the dark visions frightened her.
She planned out her life, and knew that she would have everything she wanted. She could see it. Unfortunately, she couldn't clearly see the perfect man she knew she should marry, or the years of unhappiness she would have to endure before her dreams came true.
Chase Trent breezed into Southampton fresh from America, presenting himself as the perfect man. Good looks, charm and money blinded the saucy girl who was five years his junior. Chase was used to having the best and, on the surface, this little sample of English tart would look good on his arm. To top it off, she thought he was perfect. On their wedding day, Chase proved to his bride that he was the furthest thing from the man Anna expected him to be.
Colin Marsec would do anything to be close to Miss Anna. As they grew up together, he tried to make her see beyond her dreams, to see him as the man who loved her as more than just a surrogate sister. Once she chose Chase Trent over him, his reckless living trapped him into an unwanted marriage with a woman who would ruin his life.
Will Anna find the perfect man? Does he really exist? And what of Justin Waring?
1907—Southampton, Yorkshire, England
"I plan to marry well and will do anything to make it possible," Anna announced to Colin one warm day the following spring. "I dreamed of the man who would be perfect."
"The perfect man—again." Colin rolled his eyes.
Anna continued, ignoring his attitude. "He has to have dark hair and brown eyes. He is romantic—and loving—and adores me no matter what I do. I will be pampered and taken care of for the rest of my life."
"Where do you think you will find this man?" Colin looked up and down the street. He leaned against the high brick wall surrounding his home. He ate an apple thoughtfully as she paced back and forth before him; his eyes ever surveyed her frame. "There are not too many fitting your description around here."
He took a bite, and blotted juice from his lips with his sleeve. The warmth of the day had prompted him to come out with his shirt loosely tucked and partly open at the neck. He looked very much the part of the gypsy that day.
"Don't worry. I'll find him. You'll see." Anna stopped pacing and pulled his hand down to take a bite from the apple.
"Do you think I might apply for the position?"
Anna laughed. He smiled, and cast his eyes down in mock embarrassment.
"As if your father would allow it. He wants you to marry a girl from a finishing school," she paused to drop a curtsy, "who can run a proper household. Someone who can entertain the best company and…"
"Enough, Anna. I know what my father wants." He paused as if weighing a thought before he ventured on. "It's not especially what I want." He threw the apple core over the wall above his head. Colin caught Anna by the wrists, and slowly pulled her toward him. "Let me tell you what I want." He looked down at her.
Anna stumbled, and nearly fell against him. She recovered her footing at the last moment. He pulled her palms to his chest, their faces barely six inches apart. Anna could feel his heart beating like thunder; the heat of his body penetrated the thin material of his shirt.
She swallowed as she wondered at the emotion that rose within her. "Colin Marsec, we are standing in a public street." Pulling her gaze from his face, she looked around to see if anyone was about. "Someone might see us. This does not look proper."
"I don't care." He shrugged, and increased his hold on her. "I want a certain sixteen-year-old girl. She is slender." His eyes caressed her face. “Stubborn, red-haired, and not as in control as she thinks she is.” His voice lowered to a whisper. Anna caught herself as she leaned closer to hear, melting into his dark eyes before she realized what she was doing. “She thinks she knows what she wants. I happen to know what she needs. I also know where to find her anytime I want her. I don't have to wait for her to materialize from a dream."
She pulled her hands from his grip, and stepped away before she found herself lost in his fantasy. "Your father would disown you and your gypsy ways without a second thought. You’d not be able to support her. Then what?" She turned her back on him, as she tried to control the beating of her own heart. She walked proudly away, and swung her hips. She paused to look over her shoulder in what she considered a seductive manner.
His lips curled in a playful smile and there was a dangerous spark in his eyes. Anna loved that look. He was about to break the rules. She picked up her skirt and dashed as fast as she could down the sidewalk to the alley, a short cut to her street.
She heard Colin giving chase and he caught her just over half way through the alley. He had only to reach out and catch a handful of her hair, using his hold to guide her back against the eight-foot brick wall that separated his yard from the alley. Anna grasped his hand with both of hers, and tried to free herself. He took advantage of the situation, captured both of her hands, and pinned them above her head.
"Someday, Miss Anna Scott," his face barely an inch from hers, "you will regret teasing me."
His voice was low and menacing. He pressed his body against her, holding her to the bricks. With the tilt of his head, his lips met hers in a hard kiss that kindled sparks all the way to her toes.
He stepped back in triumph, and slid his hands down her arms and her sides before he allowed them to drop from her hips. Colin winked and strolled briskly toward his street, not looking back.
"No, I don't think so," Anna called after him.It was too exciting. Anna hadn’t known she could draw such attention from him. She was surprised at how she had reacted to his attentions as well. Had the kiss been any longer, any deeper, she would have had no choice but to completely surrender.