The Perfect Waltz

The Perfect Waltz by Anne Gracíe Read Free Book Online

Book: The Perfect Waltz by Anne Gracíe Read Free Book Online
Authors: Anne Gracíe
pulling her insidiously closer. His grip on her tightened as he locked his right elbow, forcing his traitorous body to keep her stiffly at a proper distance.
    “And do you intend to make a long visit?”
    “Not long.” As long as it took to marry Lady Elinore.
    “Oh, what a shame. There is much to enjoy here in London.”
    There was much to enjoy in his arms right now. Sebastian tried to concentrate. One, two-three. One, two-three. Her delicate scent wafted to him in drifts, the scent of woman with a hint of . . . roses? Vanilla? The ballroom was crammed with people, thick with overheated bodies and a hundred different perfumes. How then could he possibly smell her? But he could. He could smell her hair, the delicate fragrance of rich, golden curls. He longed to bury his face in them. He twirled her around in a reverse instead.
    She leaned back into the support of his hand, giving herself wholly to his leadership, responding to his every movement with feather-soft delicacy. Her lips were parted and her eyes half-closed. She sighed rapturously. “The waltz is such a divine dance. Don’t you just love to waltz, Mr. Reyne?”
    “No. I do not,” Sebastian grated, unable to take his eyes off her parted lips. So close . . . and yet so far. The punishment of Tantalus.
    Her eyes opened wide in surprise and then warmed with amusement. She laughed. “You intrigue me, sir. If you do not enjoy waltzing, then why did you invite me to dance?”
    A couple twirled dangerously close, romping rather than dancing. The man, a heavyset fellow dressed in purple knee breeches and a spangled coat, was clearly drunk, and even as Sebastian warned him off with a cold stare, the fellow overbalanced. His partner, a raddled woman shrieking with laughter, tried to straighten him, but his reeling weight was too much for her, so she stepped back and left him to his own devices. Collision was inevitable.
    Sebastian pulled Miss Merridew against his chest and turned in a protective half circle, keeping her safe within the embrace of one arm as he took the full brunt of the man’s toppling weight against the other.
    The man lurched and clung precariously. With his free arm, Sebastian dragged him upright by the scruff of his coat, then thrust him firmly away. The man was noisily apologetic. “So sorry, dear fellow. Slipped, y’know. Demmed housemaids too free with the wax, y’see.”
    “Demmed guest too free with the brandy, more like,” growled Sebastian and danced on, Miss Merridew still clamped to his side. He regained her other hand and frowned at her in concern. “Are you all right, Miss Merridew? That clumsy cod’s head didn’t bump you, did he?”
    “No, not at all, thank you.” She was flushed but made no move to put a proper distance between them. She looked up at him with wide, blue eyes. “You sheltered me from any danger of being bumped. Are you hurt at all? Lord Streatfield crashed into your arm quite heavily, and he isn’t exactly a small man.”
    He stared at her in astonishment. “Me? Of course not. ’Twould take more than a drunken bump to hurt me.” He twirled her around in a small circle.
    She frowned, as if unconvinced, and her concern warmed him. Wishing to reassure her, Sebastian flexed his arm a couple of times. “See, no damage at all.” She just stared at him, a small, thoughtful smile on her face, her body warm against his chest as she danced on.
    His body clamored awareness. Hold her closer, it demanded. Sebastian fought the urge.
    Perhaps she was shaken more than she wanted to admit. Highborn ladies were supposed to be extremely delicate. Miss Merridew was slender and dainty and looked fragile enough to break. No doubt she’d been wrapped in cotton wool all her life. The encounter with the drunken lord had probably overset her. That was why she was leaning against him, unaware of the impropriety. It could be the only reason. A girl like her would never encourage the advances of a man like him.
    The primitive,

Similar Books

Chasing the Valley

Skye Melki-Wegner

South Street

David Bradley

Fair Weather

Richard Peck

Krewe Daddy

Margie Church

A Place of Hiding

Elizabeth George