Beguiling the Earl

By: Suzanna Medeiros

Landing a Lord ~ book 2



Chapter One


1807



Catherine Evans shouldn’t have been bored. She was in London at a crowded ball and was dancing with a handsome man. Heaven knew she’d been anticipating her first season for months—ever since she’d learned the previous fall that her sister would soon be marrying the Marquess of Overlea. That event had completely changed their lives for the better. Until the day her sister had made the announcement, she’d never thought she would actually find herself in town, attending all manner of balls and other evening entertainments. She’d been looking forward to spring with increasing excitement ever since.

Now, less than one month into the season, she was already tired of the endless social demands. Balls at least once a week, musicales, routs, and visits to the theater. She’d imagined the whole experience would be more exciting. Knew it would have been if one man were present, a man who’d promised to be here to dance with her when she’d met him last fall.

She smiled politely at her partner, Viscount Thornton, as their gloved hands met briefly while they moved through the figures of the country dance. He was only a few years older than her, and she had to admit he was very handsome with his blond hair and blue eyes. She couldn’t help but measure him against the man she still looked for at every ball, and in comparison he seemed little more than an eager boy.

When the dance was over, he led her back to her sister. She accepted his compliments on her grace of movement with cool reserve and redirected the conversation back to the much safer subject of the weather. Thornton made no secret of his admiration for her, and she suspected he would become a nuisance if she encouraged him even slightly.

It was with some relief that she spotted Louisa and Nicholas a few feet away. He stood with his broad back to the dance floor, and it was only as she neared him that she remembered her brother-in-law had worn a coat of deep blue while this man wore black. A fluttering sensation started low in her belly.

When Louisa spotted her, she said something to her companion and he turned to greet her. The fluttering sensation blossomed into a full riot of butterflies, and she was powerless to stop the smile that spread across her face.

“Kerrick,” she exclaimed.

She managed a quick smile of dismissal in Thornton’s direction before hurrying across the last few feet that separated her from the man she’d been waiting to see again. She stopped just short, her breath far too uneven to have been caused by the light exercise of the dance. She almost reached for his hands but resisted the impulse. She’d learned enough during her time in London to know such a display of affection would cause raised eyebrows and not a small amount of gossip.

“Miss Evans. It is so nice to see you again.”

He smiled down at her, his blue eyes crinkling at the corners, and joy unfurled within her. He was just as handsome as she remembered.

“You devil, you promised to dance with me during my season. And here we are, a full three weeks in, and you haven’t attended even one of the balls.”

He affected an expression of exaggerated dismay. “You wound me to accuse me of such negligence. Unfortunately, I had pressing matters to attend to which kept me from town.”

She pretended to give his words careful consideration before replying. “I’ll forgive you. But just this once.”

His eyes shone with amusement. “Wretch.”

She could only beam in reply. He turned back to Louisa, and Catherine had to be careful not to let her disappointment show.

“Have you received word from your brother?”

After learning the previous fall that Louisa had accepted the marriage proposal of Nicholas Manning, the Marquess of Overlea, their brother John had been furious. Nicholas’s uncle had ruined their father and John couldn’t bring himself to believe Louisa would align herself with that family. Louisa had hoped their brother would come around to accepting the marriage in time, but instead John had run off, leaving behind a note that stated he’d enlisted the help of a family friend in purchasing a commission in the army.

“No,” Louisa said. “I’ve written to him but have heard nothing after his first reply.” Her voice faltered before she continued. “I am so worried about him. He was never one to be so reckless.”

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