Would he recognize her behind the mask? Would the expression on his face show something other than polite friendliness? And if it didn't The carriage door opened and she surged out to stare at the large light stone town house flanked by two brick houses.
It shone between the darker buildings as if the moon held it in special regard. It wasn't until she noticed the amused faces of both the Angelfords that she realized she had alighted without help from either the footman or James. We will meet later. Remember what I told you about holding yourself and using your accessories differently.
She merged with their group as they slipped through the corridors, upstairs and into the ballroom.
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She paused on the threshold and held herself there for a moment as she took in the sight. Gaily dressed people danced and talked and flirted, the atmosphere jovial and alive.
She quickly caught sight of her prey and moved in his direction, but not directly to him. Despite the new dress and lessons she had practiced, she didn't feel any more confident in her ability to fish for beaux. She was a novice among the skilled hunters of the ton. She strolled to a threesome who looked more nervous than she and smiled. By the time she felt the warm breath close to her neck, she was having a genuinely good time with her new companions.
It seemed social situations were the same no matter the level of raciness. Make other people feel better and soon she'd be feeling better too.
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The breath of air tickled, but she knew instinctively that the person behind her was not Marcus. She accepted it with a smile and took a sip. Useless compliments and excessive flattery, all with one goal in mind.
Of course, she had to concede that if the man uttering them had been dark-haired and goldeneyed, she would have been swooning in girlish glee. Calliope had warned her of the increased number of waltzes and the more vibrant nature of some of the other dances. She also saw two pairs of blue eyes and one pair of golden watching her. Calliope and James were standing alongside Marcus. A woman clung to Marcus's arm, trying to gain his attention. She looked back at her new companion. Ellerby was a notorious rake and one of Marcus's least favorite people. He led her onto the floor and the first strains of a violin caressed the air.
He twirled her and she forced herself to relax. She loved to dance, but usually felt as if she were on stage. Closing her eyes, she pretended she was in Marcus's arms. Marcus and she had danced together before, but she was always too constrained by propriety and too nervous at holding onto his broad shoulders and firm arms, so different from her own soft ones. Ellerby's arms didn't feel as strong, and he didn't smell of spicy cinnamon and piano keys, but she imagined that it was Marcus's fingers caressing her waist and claiming her hand.
That it was he who wanted to dance with her and flirt with her and teach her all the naughty things he knew. Her head dropped back and she allowed her skirt to flare out. She felt free.enabpayrenre.tk
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She heard Ellerby's breath catch, and a surge of triumph soared through her. Perhaps MarcusA hand slipped to her rear, and her eyes snapped open. Fighting the urge to smack the man, she forced a smile and pulled his arm back into position. She might be here on a mission to snag Marcus, but she sure as Mary wasn't here to fish for anyone else.
Don't you know that a lady likes to be romanced first? I love a challenge. The final notes of the song tapered to a close, and she caught Marcus still looking in their direction. She wondered if he had watched them dance the entire time. She hoped so. She cocked a brow toward the refreshment area. Ellerby laughed lightly and placed a hand on her waist to lead her forward. They had barely reached the table when she felt his presence at her side.
The side unoccupied by Ellerby. She felt her body instinctively lean toward the warmth on her right. A lovely tingle that had her eyes at half mast. Yes, she had been right. All it took were the right words issuing forth from the man of her dreams and she puddled at his feet. Ellerby looked irritated.
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A predatory smile. She shivered. She'd seen it before, of course, but it had never been focused in her direction. He placed a soft kiss against her knuckles and she caught her breath. Marcus was staring at her as if she were a ripe dessert. She wanted to make sure he got every last bite. Marcus was the most perceptive person she knew. What if she did something stupid?
Then again, what had she come here for, if not to take the chance? She tried to steady her nerves as they took their places and he took her hand. How would you know if I had attended one like this before? Perhaps this is only the first time you've paid attention. She held onto him, her eyes never leaving his. They whirled and danced and their movements sung together. Like two liquids in a glass merging into one. It wasn't until the last sighs from the strings that she felt him tense.
Following his eyes, she saw Ellerby watching them. Watching her.
Marcus picked up her hand and brought it to his lips. She could see Ellerby trying to reach them, but Marcus maneuvered through the throng as if trying to put as many obstacles between them as possible.