Thursday, November 10, 2011

Monday's Escape Into Romance Is..."Surrendering"


Chapter 26

   “I want to dance every dance with you.” His body was inches away from her. Landon lingered for much longer than he should have waiting for Brook's response.

   She smiled sweetly at him. “Do you not like your feet?”

   Landon chuckled. “Brook, you may step on them all night long. They are at your disposal.”

   Everyone took their seats in the carriage and they were off to the ball. When they arrived, Sarah was thrilled to see the ballroom was not nearly as crowded as she thought it was going to be. She did not care for crowded places and had hoped the ballroom would not be this evening. Sarah squeezed Brook’s hand tight as Brook returned it with her own. They were so very excited. Brook had never seen such a large room before. Sarah pointed out the sweet table and commented on how pretty it looked. Too pretty to eat Brook had told her back.

   Landon led the three women to a spot in the corner with four chairs next to the sweet table. He turned to Grams and said, “We cannot have you go the evening without your sweets, my mini muffin.”

   Grams let out a loud giggle, which had drawn some attention, and said, “There is nothing mini about me my love. God bless you for the sweets though.”

   Landon laughed and said, “To me, you could not be any more perfect.” He then bowed and kissed her gloved hand.

   He then turned to Brook and said, “My I have the first dance?”

   “Yes. Thank you Landon.” Brook felt her cheeks grow warm. She was so relieved he had asked her. Everyone will be watching for the first dance and she is out of practice.

   Sarah sat next to Grams facing the ballroom. Over the next twenty minutes Grams, Brook, and Sarah watched the crowds as they moved about the room. The band then cued for the next dance to start in ten minutes. Grams informed the girls, they strung their instruments, when the music is about to start.

   Brook was studying her dance card when she was aware of a male figure in front of her. Brook gazed up to see Landon standing before her. He held out his hand to her without uttering a word to her. Everything her would have said to her was in his eyes. Brook rose to her feet without breaking their heated stare.

   Landon led her to the edge of the dance floor. He could feel her hand was trembling on his arm. “You dance very well Brook. There is no need for you to be nervous.” He smiled at her warmly. “Let me lead this time though.”

   Brook laughed. “I will try, although I have to admit, I like to be in control.”

   Landon raised his eyebrow. “Sometimes that is not a bad thing, except on the dance floor.” Landon gave her his wicked smile that always worked to bring a blush out on the ladies.

   Brook gave him a sideways glance, then said, “I could see how you would think your devilish charm works on some woman. I presume they are young women?” She then turned and looked straight ahead with a grin across her face. “Perhaps I may be the wrong choice for you. I see a group of younger ladies in the corner over there.”

   Landon said nothing in return. He stood there feeling the need to shut her up with lips. She was sassy and he liked that about her. Women do not tend to challenge him this way. The music started and Landon grabbed hold of her and swirled Brook onto the dance floor with strength and demanding need for her to submit to his lead. He intended to remind her who was in control right now.

   Brook followed his lead, and it looked to everyone else that, Brook and Landon had danced together often. They moved blending with one another without flaw. Landon’s moves were sharp and sudden, full of turns as he held her tight. Brook did not fumble or miss step, she moved on his cue. He held her closer than he knew he was supposed to and he didn’t care.

   Her skin felt hot under his touch. Landon was handsome and Brook could only dream of dancing with a man who looked the way he does. This truly was a magical night for Brook.

   In the corner, a man approached Grams and Sarah. “Lady Wilsbee, how are you this evening?” The man then bowed perfectly. “I observed you as I entered the room and desired to pay you a visit.”

   “I am quite well Duke Wellington. I am honored you thought to greet me. May I introduce you to Lady Mcmay?”

   The Duke bowed to Sarah. She stood and curtsied in return. Sarah noticed he had quickly glanced at her chest. He smiled at her as if he was not sorry nor regretful for it.

    “May I beg a seat beside you Lady Mcmay?”

   “Yes Of course, please do sit down,” Sarah said. She did not intend to make a scene out of respect for Grams. Sarah did not want this man looking down her dress so she turned slightly towards Grams. With her back at an angle to him, she felt more comfortable, besides she wanted to keep an eye out for Devon.

   The three of them talked until they were approached by Landon and Brook. The Duke stood up and offered Brook his seat next to Sarah. Grams introduced Brook, as he then bowed and kissed her hand. The Duke turned to Landon and said his greetings to him. They had known one another for a while and began talking of politics and what not.

   Sarah leaned into Brook telling her of her displeasure of the Duke. Brook eyed him up and down. Both the women were use to having to deal with men treating them as an object.

   After thirty minutes or so, the Duke turned to Sarah and said, “I shall like to ask you for the next dance Lady Mcmay?”

   Sarah suddenly felt flushed. “Thank you Duke Wellington, but I.”

   Grams butted in, “She would be delighted to Duke. Sarah had not danced yet you see and I would very much enjoy seeing you two spin about the floor.” Grams then turned to Sarah and said, “Do not worry yourself about leaving me, my dear. Go and have some fun.”

   Sarah smiled up at the Duke and said, “I would be honored then Duke,” seeing that she really had no choice.

   “Very well then, I shall return shortly with some refreshments for everyone and we shall dance.” The Duke then left.

   Sarah watched him until he was out of earshot. She turned to Grams to see her grinning. “I did not care to dance with him Grams.” She whispered.

   “And why not?” Grams turned her head back and forth scanning the ballroom. “I do not see Devon here with us, do you? The Duke is a charming enough fellow and it wouldn’t kill you to broaden your horizons, shall we say.”

   Sarah could not believe Grams had just said that to her. “It was still my choice.” Sarah said softly.

   “My dear, go and enjoy yourself tonight and tomorrow will always be another day. There is no harm in dancing my dear child. Life is for living, not for sitting in corners with old women, you are far too young for that.”

   Landon cleared his throat as the Duke was coming up to their group.

   The Duke approached and he brought another man with him. He introduced him to everyone. Landon had heard of this Deerfield Earl fellow and he was a rude man with a lack of respect for women. The man has a reputation for chasing all kinds of women and leaving them when they discover they are with his child. He was glad Devon was not here, he would never tolerate this man in his presence and a scene would surely erupt because of it.

   The music started and Sarah rose to her feet. The Earl turned to Brook and asked her for a dance.

   Landon stepped in front of the man and said, “Her dance card is full. “ He took Brook’s hand and led her to the dance floor again.

   “Why did you do that Landon?” Brook was confused.

   “Do you not remember what I had said to you earlier? I told you I wanted to dance every dance with you.”

   “I thought you were asking Landon, as you should be.” Brook narrowed her eyes at him.

   “Well I’m not. I'm telling you. Besides he is not the kind of man you should be dancing with tonight or any other night.” He led Brook into the waltz.”

   Landon took Brook in his arms and she could feel heat coming off him. He gazed deep into her eyes and made her flush. Brook felt herself soften in his arms. She wanted to memorize everything about this night. The music, the delicious foods and sweets, the atmosphere of it all, but mostly dancing with him. She felt as if he were trying to make this night perfect for her. He was covering her with all of his attention. Dance after dance and then bring her sweets. She felt spoiled by his adoring consideration towards her.

   Sarah was swirling around the dance floor with the Duke. She was not enjoying herself with his hands on her. They made small conversation at first. He was staring at her neck and then down to her chest. He was obviously attracted to her, which made Sarah feel more uncomfortable. He did not try to hide his expressions of desire for her, let alone where his gazes were falling on her body. She wished she had not said what she did to Devon. He should be the one holding her right now.

   As they turned, Sarah caught a glimpse of Devon standing next to Grams starring at her in the arms of the Duke. This caused Sarah to fumble and step on the Duke’s foot. She wanted to immediately run to him. To be able to stand next to him and feel safe within his presence from the predator that held her now.

   “Oh my apologies Duke Wellington.”

   “No need to apologize Lady Sarah, I have another one I can use,” referring to his foot.

   Sarah should have laughed at that, but Devon looked very angry. She was wondering if he intended to cause a scene. That would at least free her from this man’s prying eyes on her. She had secretly hoped Devon would do something.

   The dance ended and the Duke escorted Sarah back to Grams and the others. Sarah looked at Devon and smiled at him. Devon glared at her with a miffed look. She felt her face deepen with color. The last thing she intended was to upset him further, especial after what she had said to him that morning. If she could just get him alone, she would explain that it was not her wish to dance with Duke Wellington. Sarah moved closer to Devon’s side waiting for the right time to speak to him.

   “Lord Price, it is good to see you again.” The Duke said to him.

   Devon was very polite and greeted him back. “How is your sister? Is she in attendance tonight?”

   “She is very well, thank you. In fact, she was asking of you, I believe she is hoping for a dance with you. I do believe she had heard you would be attending the ball this evening and changed her mind about coming tonight.”

   “I shall have to see if I might find her.” Devon turned and said, “Won’t you please excuse me for a moment.” He gave Sarah a quick glare and walked away with the Duke.

   Sarah was on the verge of tears. She felt her chest begin to tighten. “Dev wait.” He ignored her.

   “My dear he is with his drink right now. I have no clue where the boy has been but he smells of it.” Grams said to her.

   Sarah turned to her and said, “Alright then, two can play this game.” Sarah walked over to the man with the tray of drinks and brought him back to the group. “You can set them down here, thank you.”

   “The whole tray my Lady?” There had to of been ten to twelve drinks on the tray.

   “Yes the whole tray!” Sarah spat out at him.

   The man set the tray down and walked away.

   She sat down and started to drink a glass of champagne. As quickly as she had picked it up, she had then made it disappear. Sarah put the empty glass down and took another one.

   “Well you only have ten more to go Sarah.” Landon teased her. He went to go to take one and she slapped his hand away. Landon started laughing.

   “If you are going to continue to poke fun at me, I wish you to leave. If your intention is to put on a smile and have a drink with me, then I invite your company.” Sarah said to him. She then threw him a glare. “I have every intention of taking Grams wise advise. The evening is young and so am I.”

   Sarah then finished off the second glass and went to take the third. Landon gently placed his hand over hers and said, “You should pace yourself, otherwise your next dance partner may be wearing all the champagne you have just drank.” He then smiled at her.

   Sarah picked up the glass anyway and drank it all. The bubbles were tickling her nose and she wiggled it and laughed. “I love champagne, don’t you Brook?”

   “I do on occasion a glass or two.” Brook looked up to Landon. He shrugged his shoulders at her.

   The music chimed to alert the crowd the next dance was about to begin. The Duke and Devon approached as Sarah had finished drinking her forth glass.

   “I would like to introduce Lady Isabella Wellington, my sister.” The Duke said.

   Sarah stood up a little too quickly as the champagne rushed to her head. She grabbed for Landon beside her to steady herself. Landon took her hand and looped it through his arm, without anyone noticing other than Devon and Brook.

   Sarah starred at the woman. She was not at all impressed by her beauty. So what if she was tall with big stunning brown eyes and thick curly black hair. She wasn’t Devon’s type. At least Sarah did not think she was. Maybe it was Sarah who was not, Devon’s type. Sarah then began to wonder how Devon and this woman, who looked as if she had fallen off a cloud in heaven, knew each other. Had he made love to her and touched her the way he would not touch Sarah? Has this woman seen him naked? Did she touch Devon the way Sarah had? Sarah’s face was visible frowning at the woman. Was she going to try to steal the man she loved?

   Devon noticed Sarah’s expression and he looked to Landon. He smiled at Devon and casually pointed to the four empty glasses on the table. Devon glanced back up to Landon and mouthed the word, “All?” Landon still grinning, shook his head yes slowly. Devon pinched his lips together and gazed at Sarah who was still glaring at Isabella across from her.

   “Lady Mcmay, would you care to dance with me again?” The Duke asked her.

   Sarah looked over to him and said, “I shall like that very much.”

   Landon stepped in front of Sarah momentarily and whispered something to the Duke. He then stepped back and handed Sarah off to him.

   The Duke smiled widely and said to Landon, “I can handle that.” He then turned his gaze to Sarah and said, “Are you ready Lady Sarah?” His eyes moved to her chest again and Devon caught it.

   Sarah stepped forward. “I am more than ready, Duke” She gave him a seductive smile as she batted her long eyelashes at him.

   What the hell was she doing? Devon felt his hand begin to twitch. He took Isabella and led the way to the dance area. He looked into her big brown eyes then gazed at Sarah. Devon felt nothing for the woman he was holding. Yes, they had a past but, she was not Sarah. The feelings one has during an affair are not love. An affair is just a moment of attraction between two people and nothing more. If it were more, then the two having it, would commit and remain faithful to one another. Devon was never able to see his children in this woman, as Eli had put it. Sarah...he did. The Duke was holding the woman he loved and Devon was pissed.

   Sarah threw her head back at what the Duke had just said to her. This caused her body to fall forward as her chest smashed into his. She did not care any longer that he was starring down at her chest. She was trying very hard not to step on his feet and she was not succeeding at it.

   Devon watched them intently while staying close to them.

   “Why are you not dancing with her Devon?” Isabella asked him.

   Devon quickly looked to her. He realized he was being rude. “I am sorry Isabella for neglecting you.”

   “You are being rude but, you did not answer my question. I have never witnessed you acting this way for a woman before. The way you gaze at her is beautiful.”

   Devon said, “It is complicated. We had an argument this morning and have to seen one another till now.”

   Isabella smiled up at him. “Love is always what you make it to be Devon. You should go to her.”

   As she said that, the music ended. Devon escorted Isabella back to the place they had all been sitting. Brook and Landon arrived and Brook took a seat next to Grams, who was now sitting with another older woman. Landon found a few more chairs for their growing group.

   Grams made introductions between Brook, Isabella, Landon, and Lady Wilcox. The women began to carry on about the evening and the scandals Lady Wilcox had discovered. It was a few minutes before Devon had recognized Sarah and the Duke were not among the group.

   “Where is Sarah?” he asked Landon harshly.

   Landon glanced around at everyone who sat in front of them and then said, “I do not know.”

   “I believe I saw her going up to the terrace with Duke Wellington.” Grams said and then smiled at Devon. “At least someone is showing interest in the poor girl. A woman does not spend hours preparing for a night out only to be ignored by the one she cares for.”

   Devon did not finish listing to Grams as he left and headed for the stairs that led to the terrace. His heart was pounding in his ears. If he was kissing her, he would kill him. Devon reached the top step as he heard Sarah’s laugh. She sounded flirtatious and careless.

   The terrace was empty except for the Duke and Sarah. Devon stood in the doorway behind them. He then slipped off to the side, in the shadows. He felt himself begin to feel lightheaded again. He shook it off and remained focused on them.

   Sarah had her back to Devon and was leaning slightly forward on her forearms on top of the stone ledge of the railing. The Duke was more or less facing Devon as he starred at the side of Sarah’s face.

   “Can I ask you something Lady Sarah?” The Duke said.

   “Yes you may.” Sarah said to him. She was still gazing up to the starry sky above them.

   “How is it you are not someone’s wife? A beautiful woman such as your self should have already been married.” His voice was smooth.

   Devon was grinding his teeth together.

   “I had thought I did not want to marry and then I had met someone but, he does not feel the same way for me.” Sarah said sounding a little sad.

   “Well then he is a fool.” The Duke said with a smile. Leaning in even closer he said, "Fools will always be fools Sarah, so let him."

   Devon’s body was beginning to shake. He was a fool and he knew the Duke was right.

   “I do not want to be alone,” Sarah said to him softly. “I desire a large family to fill my home with love and laughter.”

   “Perhaps until the right man comes along, you should consider taking a lover.” His voice was deep and sultry.

   Sarah let out a small giggle and then turned to face him. The bubbles from the champagne were now in her head. She felt free and silly. She tilted her head up to him and smiled. "I do not know yet how to be someone's lover Duke Wellington."

   “Would you like to be someone’s lover Sarah? Their mistress of passion and desire?" Slowly with every word he was leaning closer to her. "Do you want to be seduced Sarah?” He placed the tips of his fingers under Sarah's chin and tilted it up towards his lips. The Duke was close too close now. 

   “One inch closer to her and you are going off the side of the balcony Duke.” Devon’s voice was low with an intentional fierce tone. His body was visibly shaking. His breath was short and heavy with rage.

   The Duke and Sarah turned their heads and saw Devon standing right next to them. Sarah jumped back and the Duke stepped back a few steps holding his hands up in front of him. He heard Devon’s tone more than his words and well understood, Devon was serious.

   Sarah turned to him with her hand on her hip and said, “Why would you care how close he is to me?”

   Devon ignored her and took Sarah in his arms throwing her over his shoulder. He began walking with her down the stairs, which caused a huge scene as Sarah was shouting for him to put her down.

   Landon looked to Grams and said, “I saw this one coming.”

   Grams giggled as she said, “It’s about time.”

   Devon approached them with Sarah still over his shoulder. “I am taking the carriage and I will send it back for all of you.”

   “I am going to stay with Lady Wilcox and Landon will see to it Brook makes it home safe, so that is not necessary my boy.”

    Sarah shouted from behind Devon's back loud enough for the entire room to hear, “Someone tell him to put me down!” The music stopped and the room fell silent. Sarah let out a loud grunt in frustration and then screamed, “Dam it Devon!”

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Cary ~ Mizz Romantica