The Marquis's New Clothes(6)

By: Lila DiPasqua

“Good day.” Aimee returned Robert’s greeting and his smile. Then turned to Adam as Robert moved to greet Louise.

Adam stepped into Robert’s spot and took her hand. “Good day, Aimee.” His familiarity momentarily unbalanced her. He’d never addressed her so informally. The way he’d said her name—so low and sensuously—caused a flutter in her belly. A ludicrous reaction that took her by surprise. A reaction that dismayed her. One she wasn’t going to repeat.

Adam didn’t kiss her hand immediately, as Robert had. Instead, he held her gaze, a half smile still gracing his lips. With the lightest stroke on the back of her hand, his thumb whispered across her skin. Tiny tingles sped up her arm and rippled to the tips of her breasts. Arresting her breath. Then he bent, his eyes still locked to hers, and pressed his warm mouth to her hand, causing her heart to quicken. And her thoughts to momentarily scatter. His lips lingered for a moment longer than was necessary before he stepped back and released her hand.

She blinked, stunned. He’d never, ever, greeted her like this before. Realizing her mouth had fallen agape, she clamped it shut. Good God. There’s no doubt about it; he is trying to seduce you. And heaven help her, he was far too good at the game of seduction. He was pure sexual temptation. Even better at unraveling a woman than Marc had been. A mere touch had had the most unsettling effect. Worse, the look in his eyes told her he knew exactly what he’d done to her insides.

Aimee managed to force out a greeting, mentally cringing over how awkward she sounded.

Thankfully, Adam ignored the clumsiness of her response and moved to greet Louise. His greeting of her cousin was completely proper and entirely different from the one he’d just offered her.

Chastising herself for her physical responses to him, Aimee took a deep breath and returned her smile to her face. She had a job to do. And the sooner this was over, the better.

Focus . . .

“It is good to see you, gentlemen,” she said, her voice thankfully belying her disquiet. “I wondered if you would be so kind as to be our escorts through the gardens?” She looked pointedly at Adam. “My cousin and I would be most appreciative.” The crowd of courtiers was well ahead now.

His smile grew. “It would be my pleasure.” He offered his arm.

He had an incredible smile. Quite perfect, actually.

Taking Adam’s arm, she walked along, trying not to notice the muscle and sinew under her hand that was entirely too easy to detect, even through his clothing. Or how his strong hard body moved with such riveting masculine grace.

Her traitorous body began to warm.

With her cousin and Robert walking behind, Aimee tried to think of something to say. A topic of conversation, any distraction at all that would take her mind off the mounting heat rushing through her system.

“You look lovely, Aimee. Blue is most becoming on you,” he said, his dark gaze dropping ever so briefly to her décolletage. Her nipples hardened.

Oh God. Much to her mortification, Aimee felt a blush coming on. She hadn’t blushed in years.

You haven’t had a man in years either. Compose yourself!

“Thank you. It’s my favorite color,” she lied. “I love to wear it. I love to see others wear it, too. Any shade, really. It draws my eyes to them immediately.” Excellent recovery. Since he was trying to bed her, he’d definitely wear what pleased her.

And nothing would please her more than to locate the ring quickly.

“Really. I’ll keep that in mind,” he said. “I must admit, it was a pleasant surprise to see you approach,” he continued. “I didn’t think you cared much for me or Robert.”

Perhaps she’d been too bold in approaching him. Perhaps she should have waited for him to approach her. The last thing she wanted was to raise his suspicions—that she was up to something.

“I’m sorry to hear that.” Gravel crunched under her feet as they moved along the path. “I didn’t realize I gave you that impression. It was not my intention, Monsieur de—”

“Adam,” he interjected. “Simply Adam. No need for titles, Aimee. We’ve known each other a long time.”

Mostly from afar—and by reputation. She’d heard more than one woman atwitter about gorgeous Adam de Vey and his carnal talents. Her husband’s friends didn’t visit the château. She only saw them when she was in the city, and since Marc’s death, she’d tried to avoid them whenever possible.

“All right. Adam it is, then.” She smiled, though her heart thudded in her chest. “You certainly had the attention of the King just now.” That’s right. Make idle conversation and come up with a way to check those pockets.