Regency Friday: HOW TO SEDUCE A SCOT Excerpt Part II

HT Seduce a Scot Final

Alexander Waters could not keep his mind on the task at hand—namely to ferret out a decent Englishman for his sister to marry. He also found himself distracted from planning his next sea voyage, the best refuge he knew from boredom when trapped in London. The girl who stood beside his sister took over all conscious thought, his gaze drawn back to her again and again like a lodestone.

She was a butterfly flown in from some summer garden. A butterfly with soft green eyes, blonde curls and a body with curves made for sin.

No, Alexander corrected himself, she was not a butterfly. She was an angel, if such a celestial being might come to land among the heathen English. If such a gentle soul might sit still amongst the melee of the London ton and listen with patient serenity to his sister as she prattled on. About swords or fly fishing, no doubt. No other lady present would have been as kind, he was certain of that.

Alex wondered if she smelled of sunshine. He had wondered all night, for her hair made him think of sunlight on the burn near Glenderrin. Now that he stood beside her, he found that she did not bring the scent of sunlight into that stale, stilted ballroom. Instead, she smelled of the hot-house rosebuds in her hair.

He had spent the evening watching as both his sister and the lovely girl beside her were ignored by every man present. He did not understand the English mind, why the men in that assembly room seemed intent on dancing with every girl but them. Mary Elizabeth did not give a fig for what the members of Almack’s thought of her, but Alexander would have bet the contents of his brother’s flagship that the angel beside her did.

Alex knew he should not touch a gently bred young lady without permission, but his hand found the soft skin of her upper arm on its own. The heat of her body burned through his glove, and he almost swallowed his tongue. Luckily, he had been raised to make polite conversation with ladies, even when his brain had shut down. He breathed deep, trying to set aside his own fascination with this girl, in order to bring her out of the shadows.

“Might I have the pleasure of this dance?”

Alex was pleased that his tongue did not betray him by clinging to the roof of his mouth. Lady Jersey gave him the evil eye from across the crowded assembly room; he would bring her a glass of watered down lemonade later, to sweeten her. He winked, and watched as his mother’s friend colored at his regard. Lady Jersey’s hawk-like gaze softened, and her natural beauty rose to the fore as she gave a subtle nod.

“I have not yet received permission to waltz, sir,” Miss Middlebrook said, blinking up at him as if she were standing in the bright light of a small sun.

He turned his smile on her, nodding to Lady Jersey who watched them from down the ballroom. “I think you just did,” he said.

Alex did not wait for her to protest again, nor did he listen to the snide comments of his little sister as he left her, and the angel’s mother, standing on the edge of the dance floor. Mrs. Angel was chattering away to the woman at her side and did not seem to notice that he had whisked her daughter away, leaving Mary Elizabeth frowning in his wake.

The waltz would not last long. When it was done, he would take his sister and the angel to meet Lady Jersey and to obtain a slice of dry cake. Such were the rewards to be found among the English elite.

He felt the heavy gazes of the lords and young fops on him as he had all night. None of them had shown the sense to ask an angel to dance themselves, but now that he had put his filthy Scottish hands on her, they were ready to draw swords. Not that any of them would have the nerve to approach him. They all looked too inbred to be men of action. Perhaps they might hire it done, and have him stabbed in the street. He almost laughed at that thought, but pushed it aside when the angel in his arms spoke.

“I beg your pardon, sir, but we have not been introduced.”

It took Alex a moment to comprehend the statement, for he was too busy breathing in the scent of rose petals, London and all its so-called men forgotten. It was not just the blossoms in her hair that entranced him. Her skin smelled of roses warmed by the summer sun. He wondered at himself. It was too cold to grow roses along the Glenderrin. Where had he suddenly acquired this fascination with their scent?

As she gazed up at him with clear green eyes—which filled with more genteel irritation by the moment—he knew that it was not the scent of roses in particular that fascinated him. It was her.

“I am Alexander Waters, brother to your new friend Mary Elizabeth Waters of Glenderrin. You are…” Here he faltered, for he had no idea of her name. Michaela? Gabriella?

She smiled a little, then pressed her lips together as if to suppress it. She succeeded only in drawing his attention to her mouth, and to the fact that her lower lip was a plush pillow that he would like to take between his teeth.

“I am not accustomed to dancing with gentlemen I do not know.”

“No one knows anyone at these things. Except for the bloody English, who have known each other since birth.”

“As I have told your sister, Mr. Waters, I am English.”

“You are an angel from heaven. I don’t know why you’ve touched ground here tonight, but I am grateful to God you have.”

“Now you are simply teasing me,” Miss Middlebrook said. She did not look embarrassed, as any other young girl might, but she searched his face as if to find his motives reflected there.

“Far be it for me to ever mock a lady,” he answered.

She smiled then, and Alexander found his heart lighten as her mossy green eyes took him in, lit by a wry humor he would not have thought to find. He knew he had more than overstepped the bounds of propriety by foisting himself on her without even the semblance of an introduction. But there was something about this girl that drew him to her, a light in her eyes that made him want to know what lay behind them. As he looked down at the girl in his arms, he would have given half of the gold in his family’s coffers to know what she was thinking.

Her color rose to an even lovelier shade of pink, and he drew her a bit closer—too close it seemed, for he caught Lady Jersey’s eagle eye. He felt her censure and knew it was deserved. These English did not seem to know what a waltz was good for—namely to sneak a moment of warmth with the woman in their arms. He reminded himself that he was not home in the Highlands, nor in Venezuela, nor in a planter’s mansion in the West Indies, but in a staid London ballroom, and ought to behave as such. But Alexander clutched his prize for one moment more, breathing in the scent of her hair, before forcing himself to relinquish her. The song ended, and his angel stepped away, but not before he caught her hand and laid it on his arm. Now that the dance was done, he would set aside his growing infatuation and return to his original intention.

There was one more way in which he might be of service to her. The fops that called themselves men at that assembly might not dance with her simply because he had done so, but they would have no choice but to accept her if Lady Jersey smiled on her.

“Please allow me the honor of presenting you to her ladyship.”

His angel looked up at him, as if trying to read his thoughts from his eyes. Her gaze was frank and unflinching, which only confirmed his suspicion that there was more to admire in this girl than her beauty and sweet, secret humor.

“You cannot present me to anyone,” she said. “You do not know my name, and I see no reason to give it to you.”

Alexander smiled, reveling in the challenge she laid down. “Very well. Since you will not reveal it, let us see if I might discover it another way.”



3 thoughts on “Regency Friday: HOW TO SEDUCE A SCOT Excerpt Part II”

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