hand palm up. “I should not have kept you in suspense all throughdinner.”With a hitch in her breath, Adelaide drew one arm from herlap and eased her fingers into his. His thumb rubbed the back of
her hand—an intimate gesture that infused her with hope. And if it
didn’t stir her deeper emotions . . . well, what did that matter? Not
all marriages were based on a grand passion. She and Henry shared
something much more likely to last: common interests and mutual
respect. If carefully cultivated, she had no doubt such attributes
would bloom into love.
“You have come to mean so very much to me over this last year,”
Henry said, his tone oozing sincerity. “Every month when I startmy route anew, I long for the day the train brings me to Cisco so
that I might see you again. You’ve been so loyal to me, ordering books for your classroom or yourself. I can’t tell you how much
your generosity has stirred my heart.” Adelaide met his gaze, her own heart stirring. “I love to read,and I . . . I try to instill a similar value in my students.” She gently squeezed Henry’s fingers and watched as his mouth curved into a warm, masculine smile. “You always go out of your way to find justthe right books for us. Other peddlers try to foist only their mostexpensive volumes. But not you. You care about your customers. Icould tell that right from the start.”“I care about
, my dear.”
Adelaide’s pulse hummed through her like a whirligig picking up
speed. Before the T&P brought Henry to town, she had despaired
of ever finding a husband. She’d signed a two-year teaching contract
that precluded her from marrying within that time frame. The few
suitors who had demonstrated interest when she first arrived lostpatience and married elsewhere. But all her waiting was about topay off.
Henry reached across the table with his other arm and cocooned
her hand within both of his. “I care about you a great deal, Adelaide.