Seduced by His Touch(9)

By: Tracy Anne Warren

Only every one since that first brief encounter.

How many moments had she spent woolgathering about him during the day?

Enough that I feel like a simpleton for being so weak and foolish.

She was scolding herself for acting the pea goose again when he turned his head and gazed straight at her. Her heart jumped; his eyes were even more sensuous and vividly blue than she recalled, his face more strikingly handsome than the warmest of her recollections. Air wheezed from her chest, the impact hitting her with the force of a quick, one-two punch. Glancing downward, she stared blindly at her shoes.

Stars above, it is Jack Byron!

Desperately she struggled to compose herself, forcing her heartbeat to slow and her breath to come at less erratic intervals.

Did he see me? Recognize me? Do I want him to?

Slowly, after a long, long minute, she glanced up and over, peering out from beneath her lashes.

Disappointment crashed through her. Not only was he not looking at her but he wasn’t even in his chair anymore! In fact, it seemed he’d left the room.

She was still collecting herself and her thoughts when the guest speaker stepped up to the podium. A full five minutes passed, though, before she was able to pay him any mind, and another two after that before she opened her sketch pad and began to draw the floral samples arranged for illustration and display.

She was drawing with steady intent when she sensed someone ease into the chair to her right. At first she took little notice, her pencil moving with deliberation over the paper. Then, out of the corner of her eye, she glimpsed a pair of large, elegant black leather shoes. Slowly, her gaze roved higher to find powerful male legs clad in fawn-colored pantaloons positioned barely inches from her own.

A shiver tingled over her skin, along with an odd feeling of familiarity, as if she’d experienced a similar situation in the past. Abruptly, she realized she had.

Her pencil fell still.

“Your pardon,” murmured the rich, masculine voice she’d heard that day at Hatchard’s, “but haven’t we met before? Miss Daniels, is it not?”

Even though she had no doubt as to his identity, her gaze slid upward. The action itself was noteworthy, considering she rarely had the need to look up to meet anyone’s gaze. A quick glimpse of vivid azure irises sent fresh shivers racing through her. “Danvers,” she whispered, correcting his error. “It is Danvers.”

He inclined his head. “Ah, of course. My sincerest apologies, Miss Danvers.”

The lecturer’s voice faded into the background, her attention focused completely on the man at her side.

“Jack Byron,” he introduced himself in a controlled sotto voce, apparently assuming that she would not have remembered his name.

As if any woman could forget.

Laying a hand on the back of her chair, he leaned closer. “London, was it not?”

She couldn’t help but stare, startled to find him so close that she could trace the faint grain of dark bristles on his smooth-shaven cheeks. And near enough to catch the clean scents of fine-milled soap, lemon water, and starch, which lingered on his skin and clothing. For an instant, she leaned nearer, drawn by the elusive fragrances. But then she remembered herself and pulled away.

“Gunter’s, wasn’t it? For ices?” he inquired.

She paused and took a moment to recover. “No. Hatchard’s. For books.”

“Quite right. Dr. Johnson. I remember now. So, how is the good doctor?”

“Still deceased, as far as I know.”

He barked out a short laugh.

Several heads turned in their direction. Finding herself the sudden focus of more than one disapproving set of eyes, she came rapidly to her senses. Straightening, she drew away from Lord Jack. He did the same, removing his hand from the back of her chair.

For the span of an entire minute, the pair of them listened solemnly to the presentation.

He tipped his head toward her and whispered, “What brings you to Bath?”

She stared straight ahead, aware she shouldn’t respond. “I am visiting my aunt for a few weeks.”

“A pleasant time of year for seeing family. And where is the esteemed lady? Surely you are not here alone?”

She cast him a glance. “No, my maid is with me. My aunt will be arriving later.” She paused, trying to pay attention to the lecture and failing dismally. “What of you, my lord? Why are you in the city?”

He grew silent, his gaze directed ahead. Curiously, she wondered if he was going to answer.

“Personal business,” he said at length. “Such that will keep me here for a few weeks as well. So, you enjoy flowers, do you?” he observed in a smooth redirection of the conversation.