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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Title: Whispered Lies Author: Kristin Vayden Genre: New Adult

Whispered Lies Cover Synopsis

Atonement is my only salvation. So when the opportunity presented itself, to save her. I did. And the tangled web began…Knowing her, but not letting her know me. Keeping her at arm's length when all I wanted to do was have her in my arms. Protecting her, because I finally fell. And the monster she needed protection from… Was me.

  6881a-add-to-goodreads-button31  

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Excerpt “Why are you avoiding me?” I asked, hating that I sounded so weak and insecure. I risked a glance up, biting my lip as Alder studied me. He didn’t immediately refute my claim, which basically affirmed that I was right. He was avoiding me. Fan-freaking-tastic. Which totally solidified my stalker status. “Jayne, it’s for the best… okay?” He spoke quietly, his gaze searching my face, landing on my lips. He closed his eyes and turned away slightly. Opening his eyes, he studied the wall. “Why?” “Because I’m… I’m the last person… you deserve someone so much…. better, you know? It’s not you. It’s me.” He turned to face me as he spoke. “Whenever anyone says that, it just makes you feel like they're trying to let you down nicely, you know?” I took a deep breath and stood. “It’s okay. I get it. I just…” I searched his hazel eyes. “…I thought there was something more, and I was wrong. It’s okay.” I tried to smile bravely, but I knew I failed by the expression on his face. “Jayne, don’t.” His expression was tortured, as if he were fighting an internal civil war, and no matter the side, he would lose. “It’s okay, Alder. I… I’m sorry I cornered you. It’s just that I felt safe around you… and it’s…” I took a shaky breath as I continued. “…it’s been a long time since I felt that way, you know?” I gave a weak smile as my eyes stung with tears. “Oh shit, don’t cry, please don’t cry. You… I… Jayne, I’m not worth your tears.” His voice was hoarse as he stood and reached out toward me then pulled back his hand as if reaching for something that would burn him. His Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed forcefully then closed his eyes. “Seriously, Jayne, if you only knew…” He shook his head and then rubbed the back of his neck. I paused, studying him. “Is… is it because of your past?” I asked tentatively, knowing that I was about to walk on thin, fragile ice. He froze, and his eyes slowly slid to meet mine. “You could say that,” he whispered. I could see his breathing grow rapid as his gaze locked with mine, his expression full of fear. “And… you think it would be hard for me to see past it,” I guessed, taking a cautious step forward. He watched my slow movement with a heavily guarded expression, as if he was terrified. Slowly, he nodded. I risked another step toward him, watching as his gaze held steady, locked on mine. “Because what you did is unforgiveable?” I murmured. He nodded once, barely blinking as he watched me take the final step that would bring us toe to toe. “I see,” I whispered as I tilted my head slightly and inhaled the warm scent coming from his skin, a mix of sweat and raw power. It was intoxicating, alluring and called to me, urging me to be reckless. I wasn’t the kind of girl to be forward, to chase the guy. Alder had changed all of that. Reaching down, I slowly laced my fingers with his, thankful he had taken off the tape as we left the gym. His fingers tightened around mine, warming me with the security of his gentle grip. Heart pounding, I glanced up, studying his expression, memorizing the walnut-and-moss-green highlights of his eyes, the strong line of his jaw. His gaze traced my face, as if he were studying me just as intently. “I’m stronger than you think,” I murmured and rose up on my toes as I ran my nose along his lower jaw. His breathing hitched and I sensed his muscles lock down, as if straining against himself, not wanting to move, to either step away or step closer. It was a turning point. I could almost feel the battle being fought within him, and I wasn’t sure which side would win. So I risked it all, hoping I would turn the tide. Before I could possibly overthink my actions, I lifted my chin just enough to meet his mouth. Softly, I pressed a gentle kiss to his lips, lingering for a moment. It was as far as I was going to go. Now I waited. Leaning back slightly, I lifted my gaze to study his expression. Indecision flickered before the hunger that I had only glimpsed earlier began to burn brightly in his gaze. Immediately, he tugged me close and all but devoured me with his kiss. There was no easing into the passion; it was like the Fourth of July, explosive and beautiful and passionate. His hands released mine and ran up my shoulders till they framed the back of my neck, guiding me to tilt my head so he could deepen the kiss. His lips caressed mine, his teeth playful and ardent as they nipped at my lower lip, teasing me. He darted his tongue along the seam of my lips and tortured me with just a taste of his flavor. Not wanting to be outdone, I gripped his shoulders and ran my fingers along the hills and valleys of his back, delighting in the raw power he held. I could feel his heartbeat racing as I pressed into him, wanting to be closer, wanting more. Wanting to forget everything but him, wanting to lose myself, even if it were just for one moment. For one night. “Alder…” I whispered his name as his lips left mine and traveled down my neck, nipping and teasing my skin till he reached my collarbone. Almost frantically he met my lips once more, seemingly desperate to taste my kiss. A desperation I felt as well. Breaking the kiss, I grinned and gently pressed against his chest till his knees hit his chair. His chest rose and fell quickly, same as mine, as I kissed him once, then pushed down on his shoulders, encouraging him to sit down. Climbing on his lap, it was almost as if I were watching it unfold outside my body. This wasn’t me… I didn’t do things like this… But here I was, seducing him in a dingy prison-looking office. Alder didn’t need any further encouragement. Where I had started everything, he was now taking control, and I was thrilled to follow. His hands circled my waist and pulled me tightly against his lap as his lips took mine hostage, demanding and hot. I felt the last reservations fall away. Warm hands gripped my hips till they toyed with the edge of my shirt. His tongue wove around mine, dancing, seducing. Deftly, his hands found skin, caressing my lower back and wandering around to my stomach, climbing higher till they grazed the edge of my bra. Then, like someone had poured a bucket of ice water over his head, he froze. He carefully ended the kiss and gently pulled my shirt down so it covered me. Confused, I leaned back to study him. “Jayne…” His tone was labored. I waited, barely breathing. My heart thundered with the fear of rejection. He closed his eyes and leaned his head against the back of the chair as his hands wound around my waist, and he held me as if he were afraid I’d disappear. Alder would forever be a complete contradiction. And like a drug, I couldn’t stop needing hit after hit. His breathing slowed, and he lifted his eyes to meet my gaze. “Do you have any idea how beautiful you are?” That wasn’t what I was expecting. And it was the most romantic, sweet thing any guy had ever said. A piece of my heart melted, and a smile broke through the fear. “Honestly… in all the world, I don’t think I’d ever find anyone so beautiful, inside and out.” He shook his head slightly, his expression full of wonder, but a rough edge to his tone gave me a shiver up my spine. Ignoring it, I shrugged. “You don’t know me that well… yet.” I grinned flirtatiously. “Actually…” Alder’s expression froze then grew resolute. “…Jayne, I do.”

Author Bio

authorpictureprof Kristin Vayden

Kristin’s inspiration for the romance she writes comes from her tall, dark and handsome husband with killer blue eyes. With five children to chase, she is never at a loss for someone to kiss, something to cook or some mess to clean but she loves every moment of it! She loves to make soap, sauerkraut, sourdough bread and gluten free muffins. Life is full of blessings and she praises God for the blessed and abundant life He’s given her.

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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Whispered LIES Release this week!

Title: Whispered Lies Author: Kristin Vayden Genre: New Adult Release Date: February 19, 2015

Whispered Lies Cover Synopsis Atonement is my only salvation. So when the opportunity presented itself, to save her. I did. And the tangled web began…Knowing her, but not letting her know me. Keeping her at arm's length when all I wanted to do was have her in my arms. Protecting her, because I finally fell. And the monster she needed protection from… Was me. 6881a-add-to-goodreads-button31 Whispered Lies Teaser #1 Excerpt Watching her from across the room was the most perfect of torture. As much as I wanted her, I knew she'd never be mine. So I allowed myself to simply burn, experiencing the pain as a reminder that she was close, but also a warning that she was almost too close. The thin line that existed was the tightrope I walked each day, yet like an addict I continued to push the limit, just waiting, hoping against the impossibility. Class ended and I stood up, still watching her from the corner of my eye. She was graceful in a way I doubted anyone else noticed. Every movement was a fluid part of the previous one that transitioned effortlessly into the second, the third till her every motion became part of the dance. The rest of the day went by like a boring litany that continued forever. I tapped my pen on my notebook and then realized the professor was glaring at me. Setting it down I turned my attention to the clock, mentally calculating the seconds it would take till I was free. When class was finally released I was first out the door, my eyes scanning the crowd eagerly, searching for her.

After all, the heart always wants what it can never have.

I knew she'd never look at me twice.

But that didn't stop my heart from beating for her.

You see, I’m not the good guy.

On the outside, I might look like it, I might even smile at you.

But it’s a lie.

It’s all a lie.

There’s nothing redeemable about me.

Except for her.

But I’m the last person she’d ever want to be with.

Because I’m the reason he died. I’m at fault.

But she doesn’t know it was me.

Atonement is my only salvation.

Protecting her, because I finally fell.

And the monster she needed protection from…

Was me.

Whispered Lies Teaser #2

Author Bio

authorpictureprof Kristin Vayden

Kristin’s inspiration for the romance she writes comes from her tall, dark and handsome husband with killer blue eyes. With five children to chase, she is never at a loss for someone to kiss, something to cook or some mess to clean but she loves every moment of it! She loves to make soap, sauerkraut, sourdough bread and gluten free muffins. Life is full of blessings and she praises God for the blessed and abundant life He’s given her.

FACEBOOK | TWITTER | TUMBLR | GOODREADS | AMAZON

Sign up for Kristin's Newsletter

Release Party

Celebrate the Release of Whispered Lies with a PARTY! We will start the celebrating early on Wednesday, February 18th!

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Forsaken Love of a Lord



BLURB:
Olivia has one goal upon returning to London: Find Lord Langley and seduce him. 
It was no secret that her stepsister was a miserable excuse for a human being and the secrets shrouding her demise only added confirmation that even in death---she wasn't worthy of the handsome Lord. 
According to rumors, Lord Langley is after revenge, but she's after something far more dangerous. 
His heart. 
One masquerade aligns their paths in ways neither of them could have imagined. 
Will he succumb to the fair beauty? Or forever allow his heart to be entrenched by the beastly claws of her dead sister?

Available now for only .99!


Amazon Link


Only when the fruit's forbidden are you tempted to take one. Small. Bite.

Excerpt:

Edward Ashley, the Viscount Langley swirled his brandy and stared into the glowing fire that was burning low in his darkened study.   He knew this day would come, he felt it in his gut even as he had said the words four—though it felt more like forty—years earlier to his deceased wife’s father.
            Stepfather actually, if one was being particular.
             And Edward was one to be particular, which was why he still called himself ten kinds of fool for falling for such a treacherous woman.  How had he deluded himself to thinking he loved Marybelle? That she loved him? Ha! That was truly the rub. Marybelle; love someone else other than herself? Impossible.
 Yet hadn’t he thought that love made the impossible, possible? Yes. He had. Back when he was young, naive and foolish.
            But no more.
No, he had learned his lesson and paid for another person’s sins, over and over. Everything he had loved about Marybelle had been a lie—an elaborate game. One she had won till the night it had all come back to seek it’s bloody vengeance. That night more than one kind of poetic justice was served. It was too bad it was far to late to offer any redemption to his jaded heart.
            Or perhaps it was a blessing.
            If one cannot love, then one cannot hurt.
            Rather they are the lifeless, breathing shell he knew he had become. But the pain was less, the self-loathing, diminished in the balm of time…but he’d never heal.
            He didn’t want to.
            Notwithstanding, the Pierce family was back in London, Marybelle’s young sister in tow. The once young girl was now twenty.  Surely they were hoping to give her a season. He scoffed at the idea. Marriage mart, love; all words that held a bitter taste in his mouth; like over steeped tea that had grown cold.     Miserable.
            He detested cold tea, part of his particular nature.
            Well, he’d keep his part of the bargain as well. He’d not say a word to the ton about the truth of that night he found Marybelle.
            He’d not say what was lost.
            He’d not whisper a word of what was found.
            He’d turn and walk away the moment they walked into view, because everything they represented, he wanted to forget.
            And that was the very thing he was unable to ever do.
            “I take it you’ve heard the news, then?”
            Edward startled slightly at the sound of his friend’s voice. With an irritated glare, he turned to watch as Curtis Sheppard entered the room.
            “I take it you’ve forgotten how to knock again.” Edward shot back.
            “My, my we’re surly tonight. I’ll take your glower as a yes to my question.” His friend strode in with easy steps, a devil-may-care-grin on his face.
            Edward felt the uncharacteristic urge to beat it off of him.
            “You know…with all the venom coming from your expression one might get the impression that they weren’t welcome.” Curtis replied offhandedly as he helped himself to a crystal glass of brandy and sauntered over to a chair.
            “Then I’d have to change my original impression.” Edward replied, a slight grin bending his lips.
            “Of?” Curtis asked as he set the crystal glass of brandy down softly.
            “Your intelligence. I think you’re finally catching on.”
            “You wound me, old man. I know for a fact that I’m about the only one that bothers to stop by and at least attempt to cheer you up. Lord knows you’ve scared everyone else away.”
            “They were quicker to get the hint.”
            “They were cowards.” Curtis shot back, his eyebrows raised, daring him to refute his claim.
            Edward glanced down at the Abussion carpet, studying it but not seeing it. Damn the man, he had a point. But Curtis always did. He was one of the only friends that continued to endure Edward’s surly nature. Always cheerful, it was damn annoying as hell, but he broke up the monotony.  He was one of the only people in the world who knew the truth, and Edward trusted him to keep it.  That type of loyalty was rare as hen’s teeth.  For that, Curtis had his loyalty as well, though he had, through the years, forgotten how to display any other emotion other than anger…or remorse.
            Edward’s gaze lifted as he watched Curtis approach him. “Yes?”
            Curtis’ eyes were narrowed slightly and he took a position just to the side of Edward and began to study the ground. “Just wondering what you found so damn interesting about the carpet that’s been in this study since you were in short pants.”
            Edward shoved his friend good-naturedly, a grin breaking through.
            “And here I had thought you’d lost the ability to smile. My hope in your black soul is restored.” Curtis shrugged and sipped his brandy.
            “I’d not place so much faith in me.”
            “I’ll be sure to under estimate.” Curtis shot back and returned to his chair. “So, back to my original reason for gracing you with my company—“
            “I’d rather not talk about it.” Edward cut in, spearing his friend with a glare.
            “I’m sure you’d rather rot. However, that doesn’t change the fact that you’ll be seeing them at some point or another. What is your plan? After all, you’re Edward Ashley, Viscount Langley.” He raised his eyebrows. “You plan your life down to what you’ll dream about.”
            “Revenge.”
            “Bloody business. Best served cold, eh? You’re above that. I’ll not let you delude yourself.”      
            “What—“
            “I know enough. Leave it. It will only blacken your heart more, old friend. Besides, if you ruin the family, you’ll be going back on your word…which we both know will not happen. As much of a old stick you’ve become, you’re not dishonorable.”
            “Blast you, Curtis.”
            “Thank you, I’ll take that as a compliment simply assuring myself that you see my brilliant point.”
            “You are vexing beyond words.” Edward muttered.
            “I’ve been told I’m many things beyond words…however most of those comments from the lady population.” He grinned.        
            “Only you could find some way to make me actually want to discuss your sordid love life in efforts to escape the previous topic of conversation. How do you do it?” Edward asked in a wry tone.
            “I’m far more brilliant than you give me credit for. It’s the looks. Most people take one look at me and think ‘ah! All beauty, no brains.’ For honestly, it isn’t fair that I have a lions share of both.” Curtis sighed as if pained by it.
            “And humility, scads of that as well.” Edward shook his head.
            “I’m quite proud of that particular virtue, yes.” Curtis laughed. “Now, I’m going to attend the Bridgeton route tomorrow. Alaine will be there…” He let the name linger.
            Edward glanced heavenward, praying for deliverance to a God he wasn’t sure cared about him anymore.
            At one time he had been so sure.
            Now he was quite the opposite.
            “Alaine?” Edward repeated.
            “Yes, goddess of beauty herself.”
            “And voice of a minion.”
            “Do not say such things! Her voice is delightful…unique.” He added with a flourish of his hand.
            “Annoying, not unique…annoying. I swear I would rather listen to the screeching of fighting tom cats rather than hear her speak in that high pitched, nasal tone.”
            “You hide your true opinions so well.” Curtis replied dryly.
            Edward scowled.
            “At least I know I’ll have no competition from you, she’ll be mine for taking.” He rubbed his hands together.
            “I’d not dare stand in the way of true love.” Edward mocked.
            Curtis shook his head and chuckled. “ At least love for the moment.”
            “One day, you’ll find some lady that will turn your head in such a way you’ll not even be enticed by another…and I predict that very lady will not give you the time of day.  God’s way of punishing you for your many sins.” Edward spoke clearly as he strode to the wide chair behind his desk.
            “Love advice? From you? My, it is a night of miracles.” Curtis replied with a mocking grin.
            “Insolent—“
            “Don’t be irritated at my keen observation and ability to articulate it so clearly. Now, back to the Bridgeton route. You’ll attend, of course.” Curtis brushed some lint from his fine coat.
            “No.”
            “Yes.”
            “I’ll not repeat myself.”
            “Yes, you’ll attend! You gave your word two weeks ago. I knew you’d try to back out of our agreement since the arrival of Pierce family, but I shall not let you. I’ve been working on sweet Alaina for some time now, this is my chance.” He smacked his knee and stood. “You know I need you to attend if I’m to be allowed entrance.”
            “Bloody hell, why in the world do you wish to be part of the ton? Have you met any of them? Vipers, the lot of them.”
            “I’ve met you…” Curtis shot back.
            Edward rolled his eyes in exasperation.
            “You attended the Blackwood party without me—“
            “But that was far less exclusive than the Bridgton event. You know this.” Curtis all but whined.
            Edward frowned.
            He hated that his friend had a point. While Curtis was wealthier than Croesus, his money was made in trade.
            Not inherited from an age-old title.
            And his father, being the independent type, had refused to try and purchase a title on the sly, so their family was, while wealthy, still part of the blue-collar variety. And being part of that class eliminated them from receiving invitations from the exclusive parties of the ton.
            Lucky blackguard.
            So unless Edward brought him along, he’d not be able to attend. And as much as he wished it weren’t true, he had said he’d attend.
            “I loath you.” Edward ground out in defeat.
            “Its perfectly alright. I adore you enough for the both of us.” Curtis fanned himself like a lady.
            Edward snorted.
            Curtis grinned. “The lengths you push me to in order to lift your spirits. I’d think you be wise to thank the Good Lord for such a friend as I.” Curtis nodded and stood, draining his brandy. He sighed in satisfaction. “I’ll see you on the morrow. And…do try to smile. We wouldn’t want to frighten anyone.” He replied with an easy smile and left.
            Edward shook his head and stood to go and study the fire once more.
            But even for the warm heat from the fire’s soft glow, his heart will chilled knowing that tomorrow, he’d have to face the very people he never want to see again.

            Damn it all.


Saturday, October 4, 2014

Romancing the Rogue

It's that time of year, where the air gets chilly and all you want to do is curl up with a warm cup of tea/coffee/cider and read a good book by the fire.
At least that's me.
How about you?
It's ALSO the time of year for us to start thinking about Holidays; Thanksgiving, Christmas etc. And what better way to celebrate that reading?
Ok, at least in MY opinion. ;)
EsKape Press has been gracious enough to let me be a part of their huge holiday celebration by releasing "Redeeming the Deception of Grace" (A Christmas Regency Romance) in their Boxed Set: "Romancing the Rogue" ( sounds Delicious, doesn't it?"
Along with other amazing authors, this boxed set is only .99! Here's the cover:
And to celebrate this awesome release, they're doing a fun little contest. To play, you need to read my excerpt and yes, there WILL be a test ;) ;) so pay attention! Follow the instructions on the Blog hop and answer the question about the except and you'll be entered to win a prize from EsKape press! AND because its the season of giving ( and thanksgiving)  If you leave a comment on this post, telling me your favorite holiday book, I'll enter you to win a copy of my new release "To Tempt An Earl"! Ready? Set? Here we go!

"Redeeming the Deception of Grace"
Because sometimes all love needs is a little healthy competition...


Ewan was shocked when Grace stopped her much anticipated reply. Resisting the temptation of waving his hand in front of her face, he turned slightly to see what she was gawking at. Spencer Raleigh, Earl of Shiply. Anyone but Shiply! But of course Grace would find his angelic looks enticing. Hadn't scores of other debutantes believed the same? Eyeing Grace, he intended to set her straight but paused, noticing how she observed the gentleman from head to toe in a seductive fashion. Ewan doubted she even realized it.
I want her to look at me like that, he thought, feeling the fire of jealousy burn in his gut as he realized that it wasn't that Grace was immune to charm in general, she was simply immune to him. Disregarding the offensive thought, he focused on Shiply's advance. He had to think fast. Shiply had targeted her and was sauntering over in an effort to secure an introduction.
"Greys! I thought I saw you," Shiply said enthusiastically as he reached out to shake Ewan's hand.
Trying to think of a way to keep him away from Grace, he paused, stalling for time. "Shiply, didn't expect to see you here. In fact, I know of a gentleman who wanted to speak with you, if you'll just…" He hoped Shiply would take the hint and leave, but Shiply waved him off and began another thread of conversation, one that led to Grace.
"Why would I miss this crush? And who may I ask is this English flower?" he asked, turning toward Grace, offering her a seductive smile that made Ewan cringe.

****

His eyes held her captive, and Grace felt as though she had stopped breathing, she was so lightheaded. She marveled at how gentle he was when he reached out and grasped her hand before kissing the air above it. Though many gentlemen had done the same, his administration warmed her like hot tea after a cold walk through Hyde Park..
"Ah, yes, this is Lady Jarvais and her daughter, Lady Grace." Ewan made the introductions, mumbling slightly. With a questioning glance, she waited for Ewan to offer up the stranger's name.
When Ewan stared back stubbornly, challenging her with the slight squint of his eyes, she turned back to her new acquaintance. "You'll have to excuse Lord Greys, he tends to mumble and forget his manners when he's foxed."
She cut a glance to Ewan and then turned back to the handsome gentleman. "It's a pleasure to meet you, sir…" She waited for him to fill in the blank. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Ewan stiffen before settling on an unamused smirk.
"Spencer Raleigh, Earl of Shiply, at your service," he said with a smile, and he offered her a playful bow. His light hair brushed his brow as he leaned down, adding a boyish charm to the already handsome man.

****

"Excuse me, but I am not 'foxed', as you put it, Lady Grace," Ewan interrupted her conversation with Shiply. He tamped down the urge to get into fisticuffs with the flirting earl but barely. Why was Grace reacting in such a way? He disliked the emotions the arrival of Shiply had uncovered.
"My mistake," she quipped, but never took her eyes off of Shiply, which irritated Ewan even more.
"Care to dance, Lady Grace?" The honeyed words dripped from Shiply's mouth, causing Ewan to fight a gag reflex. Some people had no class.
"I'd be delighted." Grace's smile lit up her face, and Ewan found himself unable to look away. She truly had grown into a beautiful young woman, though when this had occurred was unknown to him.
Her perfectly straight teeth flashed against full lips that reminded him of the crimson-colored sheets currently covering his bed. Aroused at the thought, he imagined her kiss, with those passionate green eyes closed in rapture. She bit her lower lip as she took Shiply's hand. Ewan found himself licking his own lips, wondering how her kiss would taste.
Ewan mentally shook, pulling himself from his desirous thoughts, and focused on Grace's retreating form. He stood scowling and watching the pair dance and flirt, his mood darkening by the second.
"Wipe that scowl from your face, Ewan. It's not as if she's never danced with anyone but you before," Lady Jarvais chided, clicking her tongue.
Ewan started slightly. He had all but forgotten about her presence. He turned towards the dear woman and tried to act the unconcerned rogue. "Yes, well, he's unsuitable. A rake, rogue… whatever you call the unsavory characters that prowl about, these days." He lifted his hand in a dismissive gesture toward Shiply.
"Yes, and you yourself are nothing of the sort?" she asked as her eyebrows rose.
He understood his hypocrisy as she gave him a disbelieving look. No. He wasn't any better. However, he wasn't the one trying to woo Grace, attempting to seduce her to his bed, make love to her until the far reaches of the morning…
What am I thinking? His mind spun out of control imagining Grace in all those situations with him. The air was warmer, so he pulled on his collar. Then he also fought the urge to loosen his cravat.
His eyes never left her twirling body, and he physically responded to her curves. Cursing, he looked away, willing his body to calm and forbidding his mind to think of her tempting body pressed against his. As he searched for a distraction, he noticed Lady Jarvais watching him with a curious expression on her face before it lit up in an understanding smile.
"You're jealous." She spoke the words with awe. She looked thrilled.
Ewan felt his stomach drop. No, he couldn't be jealous. Could he? But admitting she was correct would require him to acknowledge all the twisting emotions within his gut, and he refused to do that.
No, he was not jealous. Annoyed, certainly. Straightening his collar, he faced Lady Jarvais. "I am nothing of the sort."
Glancing back at the dance floor, he saw Grace give Shiply a flirtatious smile. His insides burned with a hot rage. Perhaps he was jealous, although he would never admit it out loud. Ever.
"You are so. It's written across your face, clear as day," Lady Jarvais remarked, still marveling. "You know, I saw this coming," she added with an arrogant grin full of trouble. The way she tilted her chin reminded him of Grace.
"You most certainly did not, because it is not happening. I'm not jealous!" He glanced up and muttered, "Especially of that arrogant cad, Shiply."After a moment he added, "Lady Grace has far more sense than to fall for the likes of that sort." He huffed, hoping he sounded more convincing than he felt.
"Ah, and you'd be far better for her than Shiply." Lady Jarvais's green eyes twinkled as she challenged his claim.
"Of course. Anyone would," he replied with little patience. Hadn't he already said as much?
"Good. Then I trust you to make sure she'll be safe." She watched him expectantly.
"Excuse me?" He looked at her as if she had lost all sense. What could she mean? As an available gentleman, he couldn't act as chaperon, nor would he want to, but Lady Jarvais knew that. Trepidation seeped into his chest as he watched Lady Jarvais grin.
"Yes, Lord Jarvais is gone for business on our country estate in Sussex. He won't be back until a week before the Kringle Ball. Her brothers are all busy with their own families. There are only us two who can look out for poor Lady Grace."
With a touch of her fan on his shoulder, she continued, "I won't be able to be everywhere at once, so I'm enlisting your help. As a longtime family friend who has Lady Grace's best interests at heart, I trust you to make sure she is safe from this unsavory Shiply character." She said 'Shiply' with mock terror as she widened her grin, not enough to mock him openly, but enough to issue a challenge — a challenge he was sure to take on, regardless of how his head told him to walk away.