Excerpt from
If Ever in Love

Olivia swung around, shaking tiny water droplets from her feet before rising. Stuffing her stockings inside her shoes, she tossed them in her basket. She faced him, petticoat and bare toes peeking out from beneath her skirt.

“You, Captain Harry Fleming, are impulsive, hence you stand here with me rather than tending to your usual business. So…you must be after something.” She lifted her hand and rested it on her cheek. “You like to give orders, not take them. And yet I’ve seen how deeply you care for those who depend on you—like Tom.” They locked gazes. “I understand what it is to be sad, and I think something weighs heavy on your heart. Who or what caused the sadness, I don’t know—but I recognize the signs just the same.”

His heart filled to near bursting, and he pushed the air from his lungs. “God, I love your spirit. Marry me, Olivia Parr.” He blurted out the words without forethought, without preparation. They were borne out of some inexplicable emotion he knew was not love, but something almost as potent.

“What did you—”

“You heard me.” Harry inched closer.

“We—um, but—we hardly know each other, sir.” Her face flushed a crimson hue.

The corners of his lips turned up. “You summarized me quite well a moment ago.”

“You’re ridiculous.”

He scratched his chin, lips curving into a grin. “No…no, I believe the word you used was impulsive.”

“Either way, I won’t marry you.” She ducked under his arm, but his hand found hers.

© 2022 Ann M. Trader