“Do you also have an aversion to being touched?”
She looked up and met his taunting gaze. It was a challenge she couldn’t ignore.
She hefted her chin. “Not if I have given permission to be touched.”
One corner of his mouth twitched. Surely that wasn’t a smile. From what she’d seen, the most his lips could manage were frowns.
He held out his hand. “May I help you into the wagon, Miss Talbot? In the name of expediency?”
Straw rustled behind her. One child hummed. Another thrummed on the wagon boards. The children were getting restless. She could contain herself long enough to be lifted onto the wagon.
“Very well. I give my permission.”
His hands curled around her waist. Heat seeped through her blouse and branded her skin. Her stomach started doing odd little summersaults like the ones she’d seen Chinese acrobats perform at a local fair. So much for containing herself.
His grip tightened, and he lifted her up and onto the wagon bed as if she weighed no more than a rag doll. His hands lingered a moment before he released her. Gray-brown eyes fused with hers. A strange connection churned between them like the rush crowding the air before a storm.