Masquerading the Marquess(52)

By: Anne Mallory




Her heart stopped and she looked at him. "What did you say?"



"I’m asking you to let me prove it to you."



Had he just said he loved her?



"I’ve kept myself shut away from that emotion for so long, Cal. It may take me a while to rub the rust off, but it’s something I desperately desire. Even if it takes forever to get it right."



James pulled a blue and purple flower from his jacket. It was a single beautiful bloom like the one from the Killroys’ ball. Her hands automatically reached for it as he held it between them. She noticed the petals were somewhat crumpled from being stuffed in his coat and the edge of the stalk was sandy. Just like them.



She fleetingly wondered whose garden he had robbed.



It didn’t matter. Calliope understood the gesture.



"Yes." ?



And as she stepped toward him her arm brushed the curtain. A ray of sunshine streaked through the window and pooled at their feet. James stepped into the light and pulled her into his arms.





Epilogue





Calliope opened the morning paper.



A cartoon with the caption. Marrying the Marquess was prominently displayed. A mad wedding was depicted. Acrobatic folk hanging from the rafters, outraged matrons sitting next to women of questionable virtue, naive debutantes being chased by bewigged actors. Roth and Stephen winking at scantily dressed opera girls.



In the center, untouched by all of the chaos surrounding them, the handsome groom gazed lovingly at the radiant bride. A single beautiful bloom was held tenderly in her hand.



Calliope smiled and let the paper float to the desk amid her ink and paper.



"Goodbye, Thomas Landes, and thank you."

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