Had he read her mind? Was he a legilimens and realized she was unsure which direction his winds were blowing? She was unsure if her cheeks were flushing because she felt like her private thoughts had been called out or because he was being so forward. The heat in her face rose as those faint nerves tingled again after having seemed to calm down considerably. Of course the idea of Declan O'Dwyer having a bit of casual fun with anyone was almost laughable itself but it didn't overshadow what he was saying. Even if he posed it as a joke she didn't think he meant any of it as a joke.
Even though her cheeks were bright pink and her face hot she didn't take her eyes off him. Hiding behind a weak attempt at humor didn't fool her, at least, she didn't think it did. He'd steered that ship very clearly now, there was no question anymore. She smiled a little, nervously, when he said she'd better consider it carefully before she was stuck with him. She'd wanted him to be very direct and now he was and it was more than she'd expected and she wasn't sure how to respond.
Half a dozen responses ran through her mind. Quips back at him. Defensive. Flirty. Snarky. She could easily drop something coy and dodge having to sit with the thoughts or feelings or very serious topic he was broaching. Marriages had been built on much less, hers certainly had been. A single woman from a dying family line was in need of a husband if she wanted one or not. Now that he was making a suggestion that they fall in love and plan to marry she was realizing that she hadn't actually put much planning or thought into what getting to that required marriage looked like.
His hand slid over hers and the nerves hit her again. For a moment she looked down, flustered, but she didn't move her hand. What was she supposed to say? What was the cute clever thing to say that would perfectly position her to play whatever hand she liked but keep him on tender hooks? Her big blue eyes darted back to his face and she pursed her lips. "Dec..." she heard the tone in her voice and knew that whatever she was about to say was neither coy nor playful. It was Declan, she couldn't play a game with him.
Smiling a little she tilted her head suppressing a nervous giggle. "You're making me blush," she pointed out the obvious as she turned her hand over, palm up, and pushed her fingers into his intertwining their hands. "Can I admit that I'm rather unsure how to respond? You're making me nervous." Biting her bottom lip she looked down at their hands. Why was it so hard to say something clever and smart that wasn't a lie?
"I suppose I wouldn't mind falling in love and planning to marry either....but....but....it's quite early for that." She was holding his eye contact again. "I told you, I don't want to lose you, my dearest friend, rushing head first into something seems reckless. Maybe we fall in love. Maybe we do plan to marry. But, I don't think I'm ready to pick out a cake just yet. Weddings have certainly been built on less, I of all people would know."
She bit the corner of her lip pausing. It was embarrassing, even if it was true, to admit her first marriage had been such a train wreck. "I don't even know what I'm trying to say. I'm not the poet here. I guess what I mean is I'm open to it. I like you. You're very dear to me and how wonderful it would be if it worked out just like a fairytale. What girl doesn't want to be romanced by someone she trusts and cares for? I'm just a little....my past complicates the idealism of it all and fear. Somehow I'm a bit scared at the idea of it? But I would like it if it worked. I would like to see what happens and I don't want to be rid of you. I'd be very happy to have you round for dinner every evening if you could suffer Fanby's cocktail experiments and Jeff begging you for food like the rude brat he is." Smiling she squeeze his hand tighter, "I'm afraid I'm not used to speaking about such things but that is as best I can explain what I'm thinking."