The bit of Avoidance I've sketched out and need to build around goes:
"I'm afraid I don't understand you, Guy," Natalia said, her eyes flashing with annoyance. "You write me these wonderful letters saying that you're looking forward to seeing me, then you barely say a word to me. You give me the most perfunctory of greetings, then spend thirty minutes asking Anise about her studies. Meanwhile, the colonel tells me you've been staring at me all night."
"Oh, hell." Jade would notice.
"What's going on?"
There was no point hiding it anymore. "Fine, yes, I've been staring at you. Why wouldn't I? You're the most beautiful woman in the room, with hair like sunshine and a smile like salvation. Of course I was staring at you."
Some of the anger went out of her posture. "I still don't understand." She stepped closer, but he backed away, pressing himself up against the library wall. The annoyance was back. "Not this again," she sighed. "Are you still afraid of touching me?"
Yes, but for an entirely different reason. "No," was what he answered.
"I want to."
"Want to what?"
Was she truly annoyed, or just very good at acting? It almost looked like she was fighting a smile as she lifted her proud chin, but he wouldn't let himself hope for that. It was too soon. She hadn't had enough time, and what kind of friend would he be if he suddenly dropped all of his emotional longings on her? He would wait. He should wait.
He couldn't wait. "I want to touch you."
She moved closer again, and this time, there was nowhere for him to go. "So touch me," she said. "I give you permission. I'll order you if I have to."
Speaking of four letter words "like hope and pain and Mary", how old was Mary? Googling gets me nowhere.