Saturday, July 16, 2011

 “If you are not already engaged for the next dance, Miss Hathaway, I would be honored to be accepted as your partner.”

Her pulse increased, her breathing faltered, and her cheeks warmed, victims of his penetrating eyes and stunning smile. An intense desire to accept his request warred with the echo in her head that she must resist him, and for a moment she was unable to answer. “I thank you, sir. I would be very glad to dance with you.”

He held out his hand, and with some hesitation, Lydia rested her fingers in his palm. She felt the warm, gentle strength of his hand as it closed around hers. He led her out onto the floor, where she took her place across from him, timid under the confidence of his gaze. He is a rake and a rogue, her good sense shouted. What can you be thinking? Tomorrow you will be sorry to have given in, but all of it was drowned out by the pounding of her heart.

“Are you as fond of dancing, Miss Hathaway, as you are of hiking through bushes and streams?” Lord Denton teased, a laugh tugging at the corners of his mouth.

Quivering with a kaleidoscope of sensations, she rattled off a defiant answer. “I do love to dance, my lord, nearly as much as I enjoy tackling thickets and wading across streams. And you sir, do you enjoy dancing as much as you like trampling ladies into the mud?”

“Miss Hathaway, though I do love to dance, I find it a far less entertaining pastime than rescuing unfortunate maidens.”

Gripped anew with anxiety that he would divulge her secret, she abandoned their game and asked, her brows knit with concern, “I pray, sir, that you will continue to keep our adventure between us alone.”

“I am a man of my word, and your secret is safe, though I must confess that my pledge of silence denied me the very great pleasure of a good laugh with friends.” Denton smiled broadly.