It’s time for a hump day snippet from In the Widow’s Bed. The setting is Berkshire, England at a house party held by Lady Warminster’s stepson. Let the flirting begin.
“Why so great a sigh, Lord Selwood?” Lady Warminster murmured at his side. “Are you searching for a dance partner and unable to catch the lady’s eye?”
Jonathan spun, an honest smile lifting his lips. “I was considering it. Would you care to dance with me, Lady Warminster?”
“But of course.” Her eyes sparkled with humor. “I know you to be a fine dancer so I have no fear for my toes.”
Jonathan’s gaze dropped to the lower edge of her gown. “Such delicate toes. Have they been much trodden on this evening?”
“Perhaps.” She glanced around. “I believe the last waltz of the night is about to play.”
“Perfectly timed then, my lady.” Jonathan drew her arm through his. Delicious warmth dragged a deep-seated need to the surface. Her scent—violets if he was not mistaken— lured him to lean close. But true to her words, when the current set ended, the orchestra announced a waltz with a short violin piece. Fate was certainly favoring him this evening with regard to one woman.
Lady Warminster settled into his arms and flowed with him into the dance. Despite the fatigue of the late hour, she moved lightly, perfectly pliant in his arms as they swirled around the polished parquetry. “How has your evening progressed?”
“Oh, as well as ever.”
Jonathan glanced down at her face. Her gaze drifted over his left shoulder, examining the crowd lining the floor. After a few turns Jonathan inched her closer, pulling her deeper into his arms until her startled gaze rose to meet his.
“You appear to be searching for someone, my lady?”
Her face pinked and her gaze fell to his chest. “No. No, of course not.”
With Lady Warminster pressed closer against his body, he could see why her stepson held concerns. The plump curves of her breasts made Jonathan’s mouth water. Any gentlemen would risk scandal to sample the view this daring new gown displayed.
“Liar,” he whispered as her gaze flickered over his shoulder again to the crowd lining the dance floor. “Your attention has wandered from me already. The other gentlemen have surely noticed. Most embarrassing.”
Lord Plimms circled the ballroom floor in puce satin, his gaze lingering—if Jonathan wasn’t mistaken—on the shift of fabric over Lady Warminster’s rump. Jonathan maneuvered them further away.
She glanced up. “Whatever do you mean?”
Jonathan snorted. “If a lover is what you seek you could do better than inviting Plimms to your bed. The man is certainly poxed.”
Lady Warminster’s cheeks colored a deeper red. “I wasn’t considering him. Not really.”
“Good. There are far more worthy men you should consider ahead of Plimms.”
Jonathan let the silence lengthen then drew to a halt when the dance ended. He bowed over her hand, but tucked Lady Warminster’s arm through his to lead her from the floor, avoiding the lurking gentleman. Plimms appeared ready to approach, but Jonathan scowled and changed course through the crowd until the reforming dance lines stood between them.
When they stopped, Lady Warminster slipped from his grasp. “You surprise me, my lord. I shouldn’t expect you’d approve of such a decision. Not with you being Warminster’s closest friend.”
So it was true. Jonathan grinned, but didn’t answer.
“Ah, I see.” Her mouth twisted as if she’d tasted lemons. “The giggling fop sent you to dissuade me, didn’t he?”
Jonathan laughed outright. “What your son sent me to do—and what I intend—is quite another matter.”
He linked her arm through his again and they strolled along the edge of the ballroom.
Lady Warminster’s hand settled on his sleeve. “Do you think me foolish?”