An emotion utterly strange
Sarnia turned to Edmund, expecting him to help her remount her horse. He did not move, but stared at her. She was conscious of the intensity of his regard, and also of their isolation.
She put out a hand to take the horse’s rein, but he did not give it to her. Instead he let both reins drop against the horses’ flanks. He moved towards her then, and his hands grasped her shoulders.
She stared at him. The dark face bent towards her, very slowly it seemed and yet, although she wished it, she could not withdraw her own. The hands squeezed her shoulders, and it was as though they squeezed her heart. The lips came down and fastened hard on hers.
She did not know what she felt, except that it was an emotion utterly strange. There were oppositions in it: urges both to yielding and to flight. His embrace seemed to fulfil her but at the same time touched off a panic fear. She felt her heart’s wild beating against his chest. The voices were growing fainter. She heard the waves lapping against the rocks, and her own shuddering breath. She wanted desperately to free herself, but could not break the spell.
Until the lips that were pressed against hers parted, and she felt the intrusion of his tongue. Even that shock had things other than repulsion in it, but it restored her will. She broke from him in a quick movement, and stood gasping. He made as though to renew the embrace, and she stepped back. Their eyes met, and she knew he read in hers the finality of refusal.