Seduced by His Touch(3)

By: Tracy Anne Warren

Suddenly, he began to notice the stares, especially those of the rest of the bridal party. Edward, who had given the bride away, furrowed his dark brows from his front-row seat next to their mother. His sister Mallory and the other bridesmaids started nodding and mouthing things at him from the bride’s side opposite, while his brother Drake nudged him none too gently in the ribs. Even Cade and Meg turned their heads to see what was the matter.

Abruptly Jack’s mind cleared. “Oh, the ring!”

Light laughter floated through the hall as he patted his pockets, disremembering in which one he’d placed the engraved gold band. His irreverent seventeen-year-old twin brothers, Leo and Lawrence, began to snicker from their places in the line of groomsmen.

Seconds later, Jack located the ring, his fingers brushing briefly against a note tucked next to it. Ignoring the missive, he extracted the jewelry. “Exactly where I left it,” he announced with a smile. “Thought I’d give everyone a little extra excitement.” With an apologetic glance at Cade, he handed over the ring. Cade, however, was far too ebullient to do more than shake his head with good humor and turn back to his bride.

As the vows proceeded, Jack couldn’t help but think of the note his fingers had brushed against, the paper suddenly burning a hole in his breast pocket.

If you want to see Grace, go to Hatchard’s this afternoon at four. She’ll be the tall one with red hair. Knowing my girl, she’ll most likely have on her spectacles. Don’t be late.


E. G. Danvers

A tall redhead with spectacles, Jack groaned in his head. At least it ought to make her easy to spot! Please God, he prayed, as he watched his brother join his life with his new bride’s, just don’t let her be a gorgon.

The sense of being watched prickled over Grace Lilah Danvers’s nerve endings as she stood in the stacks at Hatchard’s Bookshop. She swung her head around sharply but found no one there.

I am being silly, she admonished herself, looking away. After all, who could possibly be watching me?

Long ago, she’d resigned herself to the knowledge that she was not the sort of woman who received looks—at least not of the admiring variety. Although she had often been told that she had a pleasant—some might even say pretty—countenance, with lovely translucent skin and straight, white teeth, she was what the vernacular of the day called “a long Meg.”

Standing five feet ten inches tall in her stockings, she supposed they had good reason for applying the term. She towered over all the women of her acquaintance, and a great many of the men as well. To make matters worse, she wasn’t the delicate, ethereal sort with slight bones and a wispy shape. Instead she was what her father liked to call “sensibly built,” neither fat nor thin but “as robust and seaworthy as one of his fleet of shipping vessels.” Not that she was without her share of feminine curves, but thanks to the current fashion for empire-waisted gowns, that fact wasn’t always so easy to discern. Then, too, there was her need for reading spectacles, unfortunate but unavoidable.

Glancing around once more, she shook her head and resumed her inspection of the book in her hands. She turned a page and skimmed a passage or two, then carefully placed the volume back onto the shelf before selecting another.

As she did, she caught sight of a pair of shoes just visible in the aisle beyond. Men’s shoes. Startled despite her best intentions, she spun the opposite way and, in doing so, lost hold of her book. The leather-bound tome hit the waxed wooden floor with a resounding thud and skidded several feet distant.

At that same moment, another gentleman appeared around the corner, the book coming to a halt beside the toe of his neatly polished Hessians. Stopping, he bent to retrieve the wayward volume. He straightened, then strolled toward her.

“Yours, I presume?” he said in a deep, richly modulated voice that put her in mind of hot buttered rum on a cold winter day and the sensual luxury of lying amid warm silken sheets. Inwardly, she quivered. Her reply, whatever it might be, stuck like a stone in her throat; the incapacity only worsened when she lifted her gaze to his.

Bold and intelligent, his eyes shone like a set of imperial jewels, their shade an improbably pure blue that lay somewhere between sapphire and lapis lazuli. He was sinfully handsome, with a refined jaw, a long, straight nose and a mouth that seemed the very embodiment of temptation. His mahogany-dark hair was cut short, the severe style unable to tame a rebellious wave that lent the ends just the faintest hint of curl.

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