Seduced by His Touch(4)

By: Tracy Anne Warren

“Pray allow me to introduce myself,” he said, much to her surprise. “I am Lord John Byron. ‘Jack’ to my acquaintance. And you are…?”

A tiny frown settled between her brows, her spectacles inching slightly lower on her nose. “Miss Grace Danvers. Now, if you will excuse me, my lord, I must be on my way.”

“Surely not so soon. There is your choice of reading material yet to be decided.”

“I have books aplenty already waiting with the clerk, and at home as well. I count myself well satisfied.”

He paused. “If you are certain. I shall bid you good-day then. A pleasure, Miss Danvers.”

“Hmm, yes. Good-day, my lord.” Turning, she forced herself to walk away. As she did, she began the process of putting him from her mind, knowing she would never have cause to encounter the likes of Lord Jack Byron again.

Careful to maintain his distance, Jack followed Grace out of the stacks. He stopped and folded his arms across his chest, then leaned a shoulder against an end post as he watched her stroll into the open common area where patrons congregated to read and talk. Clerks buzzed hither and thither as they strove to be of assistance. It was to one of them that she applied, the young man moving to retrieve her selections and see them properly wrapped. Accepting a seat and a cup of tea in the meantime, she waited.

So that, he mused, is Ezra Danvers’s daughter.

As he’d expected, she had not been difficult to locate—her height, more than her red hair, giving her identity away. When Danvers said she was tall, Jack hadn’t realized just how true that would be. Of all the women Jack had come to know over the course of his eight-and-twenty years—and that was a great many indeed—Grace was far and away the tallest.

During their brief conversation, he’d found himself struck by the novelty of not having to crane his neck or stoop downward in order to accommodate a shorter female companion. With Grace he’d been able to remain at his full height, needing to do nothing more than lower his gaze a few scant inches to meet her own.

And while she was clearly not the most beautiful woman he’d ever met, she was far from the gorgon he’d initially feared. Her features were…amiable. Her skin was clear, her cheekbones nicely rounded, her nose neither too long nor too short, with a full lower lip and a chin that reminded him a bit of a button.

Of all her rather unremarkable features, her eyes were her strong point, despite being partially hidden behind a pair of spectacles. A gentle blue-grey, their color shifted in the most interesting manner from gentian to pewter depending upon the light. He supposed most people never noticed such subtle variations, thinking her irises to be either plain grey or ordinary blue, but he’d found himself intrigued; more so than he might have expected after such a brief encounter.

As for her figure, she had all the right feminine parts. Her breasts appeared more than adequately sized—enough to give a man a good handful to fondle and kiss. Her waist, hips and legs—concealed as they were beneath the drape of her petticoats and gown—hinted at all manner of shapely possibilities. What would it be like, he wondered, to lie atop such a long, agile body? To have legs that must go on forever wrapped around his waist or hooked over his shoulders? How low down his back would her heels touch? And what tricks might he be able to teach her using those lovely hands and feet?

His groin swelled with unmistakable arousal, leaving him surprised. At least bedding her, he realized, was not going to be a problem.

Abruptly he blinked. Lord above, am I really planning to go through with this? Am I really going to make her my wife?

He swallowed, his erection partially subsiding at the thought. Just because he didn’t mind the idea of tupping her didn’t mean he was eager to slip a ring on her finger. But try as he might, he could conceive of no other way out. Danvers had him trapped like a fox in a covert, hounds poised at the ready to make the kill. His only salvation was marriage—to Grace Danvers.

There were other heiresses, he supposed, with finer pedigrees and more beautiful faces. But none of them possessed the kind of dowry necessary to pay off his vowels—not and still leave enough funds for him to support a wife. Besides, if Danvers got wind he was trying to marry some girl other than his daughter, the crafty old man would call in the debt so fast that Jack might as well step into a prison cell right now.

No, it was Miss Danvers or no one.

And so, assuming he was truly determined on this course—and it would seem that he was—he would do well to begin.

First, he would need to woo her. Luckily, he had no doubt as to his abilities in that quarter. He’d been seducing women since he was a green lad, not even old enough to shave. He could have her on her back with her skirts up around her waist before she even knew what he was about. But getting her to trust him, to love him…ah, now that would be the real trick.