The Anti-Kissing League


1909 Georgia

Standish’s eyes narrowed, but his voice remained level. “Ma’am, I suggest you not say one more derogatory word about my mother. If you don’t like my behavior now, you certainly won’t like it if you continue.”

He shifted to face Millie.

“Miss Millicent, I believe it’s best I leave now.” He reached for the bags of flour and sugar. “I’ll take these for now, then be back tomorrow for the rest of the supplies and to settle Uncle Henry’s account.”

Without another word, he crossed the store and strode out the door.

Millie hurried to the window and watched the material pull taught across his thighs as he eased himself up to the seat on the wagon. Before he flicked the reins to start the horse in motion, Geoffrey Standish winked at her.

And then he was gone.

Brown eyes and brunette hair, tied back with a delicate blue bow. That’s what teased Geoff’s memory as the horse pulled the wagon down the rutted dirt road back to his uncle’s farm. What a laugh. As if he gave a rat’s ass about a delicate blue bow. What he did care about was the young woman wearing it. And he’d noticed every detail of her old-fashioned dress. Far from the up-to-the-minute fashions his mother received from London and Paris, this dress looked as if it had been around since the 1800s. But oh how it had fit her. From the small white standup collar to the pleating of the skirt as it flared over her hips, he’d noted everything. Made him want to know exactly what was beneath that tightly fitted blue bodice. Yet lust aside, it was her quick wit and smile that made him want to know more.

And that bothered him. She’d gotten under his skin. Oh yes, in those few short minutes together, Miss Millicent Baker—with her wide smile and dimples and the embarrassed flush to her cheeks—had definitely gotten under his skin. A woman was the last complication he’d planned on for this summer.

What he hadn’t counted on was a complication in the form of a pretty young woman who barely came to his shoulders. He’d felt the spark when their hands had first touched. And when he’d held her while helping her down from the ladder, Geoff acknowledged he’d felt things he’d never felt before.

Millie. Beautiful Millie with the long dark hair and expressive brown eyes. He’d thought of her every day as he worked in the field, tilled the dirt. And he’d certainly thought of her every night as he tossed about in bed. He couldn’t get her out of his mind.

He never should have gone back to town the second day to settle the bill. Although he had to, since he hadn’t gotten all the supplies his aunt and uncle needed.

She’d been alone in the store then, too.

That day she’d had on a beige dress with a gingham checked apron over it. Not the best color on her, but his body had responded at the sight of her nevertheless. He’d had to shift uncomfortably as his pants had become considerably tighter.

She’d had everything boxed for him and she showed him where they were in the back of the store. He might have been okay if they hadn’t touched again, but as he bent to pick up a box she’d done the same for the one beside it. Their shoulders had brushed and she’d jumped back like she’d been burned.

Burned? Hell, she’d practically singed him. He’d had to grab the supplies and get out of there before he did something he’d regret forever. Like kiss her.

And there was the crux of the problem. He wanted to kiss Millicent Baker. Wanted to do a whole lot more to her.

There was something about this simple young woman that made him feel like an untried schoolboy, and he didn’t like that thought.

Spreading out a blanket, she sat on it and leaned back against a tree.

A shadow falling over her made her glance up.

His arm outstretched against it, Geoff leaned indolently against the tree. A hint of a smile touched the corners of his mouth.

“Avoiding me, Miss Baker?”

“Avoiding you? You were…never mind. I just don’t feel like being around people today.”

Geoff inclined his head to watch her. “After telling my aunt how much you were anticipating this day?”

Not one to back down from a challenge, she met his eyes. “Then I was. This is now. Do you never change your mind about things, Mr. Standish?”

“Quite frequently, actually, but in New York we have far more to choose from. When very little goes on in a town, I would think you would wish to partake of every event that happens.”

“Which goes to show you don’t know me very well, sir,” she said frostily.

While continuing to gaze down at her, he shifted position so his back rested against the tree.

“Actually, Millicent, I don’t know you at all.”

“I told you I hate the name Millicent. I prefer Millie. That’s what everyone calls me.”

“I’m not everyone.”

“And clearly you do whatever you wish.”

He smiled. “Usually.”

“And what do you wish to do now, Mr. Standish?”

“Kiss you.”

Startled, she jumped up and stared at him.

“K-kiss me? I…I…I have absolutely no intention of marrying you, sir. What made you say such a ridiculous thing?”

Eyes wide, Geoffrey looked at her like she’d lost her mind. “Marry you? I said—”

“You said you wanted to kiss me. Do you think so little of me that you think I’d allow you to kiss me if we weren’t wed?”

“Kissing someone has nothing to do with getting married. It merely means I’m…slightly attracted to you.”

“Slightly? Sir, when you were in Father’s shop you hardly kept your hands off me.”

“You’re quite lovely when you’re riled, you know.” He reached out to lightly brush her hair. The corner of his lips curved up when she stepped back. “Sorry. Been wanting to do that all week. Ever since I held you in your pa’s store.”

“Mr. Standish, that’s not—”

“Proper. I know.” He moved to sit on the blanket and pulled her down with him. “What is proper around here, Millicent?”

©2006 Leanne L. Burroughs

short story from Blue Moon Enchantment




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Blue Moon Enchantment
Romance Anthology

Nominated for 2006 PEARL, ParaNormal Excellence
Award in Romantic Literature

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