A Dash of Scandal(8)

Feeling no need to cower or back away, Millicent looked up into his unbelievably blue eyes. She didn’t even hint at a blink as she said in a far too sensible voice, “You are quite handsome, sir, it would be a shame if you were looking to meet secretly with a man.”

For a moment surprise gleamed in his eyes, then he threw back his head and laughed softly, genuinely. It was a wonderful, infectious sound that made him even more charming, if that were possible.

“Indeed, it would.”

Millicent found herself smiling at him, knowing she would like to continue the conversation with him, but she’d already stepped too far over the line of propriety in even speaking to a gentleman who hadn’t been properly introduced to her. And his motives were highly suspect because in the short time they had stood there, he’d crossed the lines of gentlemanly behavior more than once.

“I’ve never seen you before,” he said, “yet, you don’t look like—” He paused abruptly as if catching himself before saying something he shouldn’t say.

“I don’t look young enough for this to be my coming out year,” she finished for him. “And I am not, sir, but you are correct in that you haven’t seen me before. This is my first visit to London.”

“Then I feel free to say that you are far more beautiful and discerning than any girl fresh out for her first year in Society.”

“I can see you are skilled at flattery, sir.”

“You wound me. I speak the truth. Flattery is what you bestowed on me.”

Oh no. I was being honest. He is by far the most handsome man I have ever met.

Quickly she said, “Tell me, will you be able to obtain another?”

His expression questioned her before he asked, “Another lady?”

Millicent was pleased to give him a knowing smile and held up his pencil in front of his eyes. “I would hate for you to miss the next promenade because you couldn’t sign a dance card.”

He nodded and gave her a grudging smile. “I think I can find another.”

“In that case, perhaps now, if you will excuse me, I believe I promised a gentleman the next dance.”

His gaze swept over her face once again before he placed his open gloved hand to his lips. He kissed his palm then slowly blew toward her.

An unexpected thrill of desire rushed through her. She couldn’t have been more surprised if his lips had actually brushed hers.

Millicent gasped.

Keeping an indulgent gaze on her face, he slowly, reluctantly removed his arm, freeing her.

Millicent hesitated for a moment longer than she should have, then she darted past him.

She didn’t look back. Oh, but how she wanted to.


“To be, or not to be, that is the question” on everyone’s mind as Miss Elizabeth Donaldson declines another marriage proposal, and Lord Dunraven loses patience with the uninspired efforts of the Bow Street Runners. The earl declares he will find the Mad Ton Thief himself and recover the missing Dunraven raven.

—Lord Truefitt, Society’s Daily Column

Chandler Prestwick, the earl of Dunraven, sat at a table in White’s furious over what he’d just read. He wadded the evening paper with a jerk and a curse.

“Damned gossips,” he muttered aloud. Must they put his name in every column!

Tossing the newspaper aside, he picked up his drink and looked at the amber-colored brandy that covered the bottom of his glass, and as easily as night slipped into day, he thought of the woman he’d met last night.

The liquor was the color of her eyes. They were the first thing he’d noticed about her when she faced him. Stunning, intriguing, golden brown eyes that were full of dancing lights. He had startled her, but only for a moment. She’d recovered quickly and looked him over carefully, fully, before letting her gaze settle on his face.

Who was she? He was sure he had never seen her before and just as sure he wanted to see her again. She was lovely with trim, slightly arched brows the same flaxen color of her thick, neatly arranged hair. The style was too tight and severe for her, but it didn’t take away from her classical beauty. Her lips were full, exquisitely and temptingly shaped, and the color of a dusky pink flower.

He remembered thinking she was trying to play down her loveliness, and he couldn’t help but wonder why. Most young ladies in High Society went to great lengths to enhance their beauty.

The gentle allure in her face wasn’t the only thing that drew him, or the inviting curves of her womanly body. He was charmed by how quickly she’d regained her confidence and her sharp wit. Hellfire, he was drawn to everything about her. He even approved of the way she’d handled herself in a most inappropriate situation. Proper but not stiff, excited but not emotional.

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