The young lady shifted in her chair, glanced over her shoulder. Her eyes, dark as black drifting smoke, met Rainier’s. She froze.
Pretty, yes. And modest, with a becoming hesitancy in her expression. Well dressed, if unexceptionably so. Under his stare, her chin lowered, those dark eyes flickered, and she turned discreetly away, toward her older companion (her mother, perhaps, or a wise and genteel aunt). She held herself well and her movements flowed with natural grace; she’d be a good dancer, a delight to watch when strolling the promenades. Appreciation stirred within him. Perhaps he shouldn’t shrug her off so quickly, particularly not if she’d attracted Cumberland’s attention; if Rainier couldn’t find undying love, he could at least enjoy a spot of sporting competition, and sooner or later, he’d need to secure a partner for that cold-blooded breeding.
Then again, there were Hortense and Lucia and the entire concept of the mercenary modern age. Perhaps he should keep his enthusiasm in chains.
But in passing--
She glanced at their table again. Her gaze touched on Cumberland, flitted aside, then lifted and meshed with his. Rainier felt it as much as saw it, experienced it like a touch in his soul. A dark glance. Warm and sensuous, with hidden, underlying strength. And approving. Cultured, appreciative; someone whose good opinion was worth the having. Surely beneath her ordinary attire beat an extraordinary heart?
His breathing hitched. Perhaps she wasn’t like his sisters at all.
Indecision tugged at Rainier. Perhaps he shouldn’t shrug her off. Perhaps leaving the field of battle to Cumberland without a fight would prove to be a mistake.
But then there was Hortense. And Lucia.
Chains; he’d keep his enthusiasm in chains until he found his own Juliet. Yes, someday he’d marry. But despite the ugly necessity, he yearned for true love, for the most exquisite woman in the world. Not a casual competition with a rake in a coffee house.
Rainier turned back to Culver and Anson and their conversation. For some reason, it no longer felt quite as vital as it had before, leaving him free to ask the burning question, “Who was that, the young lady with the dark eyes?”
Thanks for stopping by. Cheers,