Moonlight

Moonlight by Carolyn Jewel Read Free Book Online

Book: Moonlight by Carolyn Jewel Read Free Book Online
Authors: Carolyn Jewel
Tags: Romance
CHAPTER 1
    June 3, 1815, The ballroom at Frieth Hall, The Grange, North Baslemere, Surrey, England By the time Alec McHenry Fall, who had been the third earl of Dane for a very short time, made his way around the ballroom, Philippa was by herself. She sat on a chair backed up against the wall, her chin tipped toward the ceiling. Her eyes were closed in an attitude of relaxation rather than, so Dane hoped, prayer.

    Her position exposed the slender column of her throat to anyone who might be looking, which was almost no one besides him since the room was nearly Carolyn Jewel Moonlight 3

    empty. Her hands lay motionless on her lap with the fingers of one hand curled around an ivory fan, the other held a corner of a fringed shawl the color of champagne.

    He continued walking, not thinking about much except that Philippa was his good friend and that he was glad to have had her assistance tonight. He stepped around the detritus of a hundred people jammed inside a room that comfortably held half that number. A gentleman’s glove. A bit of lace, a handkerchief, silk flowers that had surely started the evening pinned to some young lady’s hair or hem.

    Dane stopped in front of her chair. “Philippa.” She straightened her head and blinked at him. Her shawl draped behind her bare shoulders, exposing skin as pale as any Englishwoman could wish.
    Her legs were crossed at the ankles and her feet were tucked under her chair.
    Dane was quite sure she smiled before she knew it was him. He didn’t remember her eyes being quite so remarkable a shade of green. An unusual, light green. How interesting. And yes, disturbing, that he should notice any such thing about her.

    He grinned and reached for her hand. He’d removed his gloves for the night, but she still wore hers. “A success, my little party, don’t you think?” A concoction of lace, ribbons and silk flowers covered the top of her strawberry blonde hair, a fashionable color among the young ladies of society.
    That he was now the sort of man who knew such things as what was fashionable among the ladies remained a source of amazement to him. He’d known Philippa his entire life. Her hair had been that shade of reddish-gold before it was fashionable.

    Philippa was no girl. She was a mature woman. Thirty-one, though she could easily pass for younger. Her features were more elegant than he had Carolyn Jewel Moonlight 4

    called to mind during the time he’d been away. The shape of her face and the definite mouth above a pointed chin balanced out her nose, and her eyes, as, for some reason, he was just noticing tonight, were striking. Her smile, in his opinion, came too rarely.

    “My lord.” Her eyes traveled from his head to his toes, and he quirked his eyebrows at that. She meant nothing by the perusal, after all. Another smile played about her mouth. “How dare you be so perfectly put together after dancing and entertaining all night.”

    Dane knew he was in splendid form. His clothes fit with the perfection only a London tailor achieved for a man of means. He wasn’t a sheep farmer anymore, except by proxy when his steward forwarded the income, and he was inordinately pleased that Philippa had noticed the change. Made him feel a proper sort of aristo.

    “I was about to ask you the very same question.” He bowed, returning her smile with one of his own.

    Philippa had agreed to act as his hostess tonight because he was a twenty-five-year-old bachelor, his mother was in Bath with his eldest sister, and he was alone at Frieth House for the first time since leaving four years ago.
    He made a mental note to send her flowers tomorrow. Was there even a florist in North Baslemere? Gad. He might have send to Guildford for roses. Pink or white, he wondered? Or perhaps tulips if they could be found.

    “Flatterer.” She opened her fan and waved it beneath her chin. Her eyes twinkled with amusement. He did like the sound of her voice. Definite, controlled. And yet, there was

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