Chapter 2

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Lady Emma offered Viscount Thumpston a brief smile enough to appear courteous, but not too wide that he would know the depth of feelings she secretly harboured for him in her heart at this moment. She placed one palm gently on his offered arm, allowing him to lead her to the dance floor. Her other hand lifted the skirt of her gown, just a tad, ensuring she walked with ease.
As the waltz began, Arthur Burward bowed, to Emma. She smiled shyly. There were many dukes and high ranking peers on the Marriage Mart, but the viscount in whose arms Emma was in, was the only gentleman she secretly pined for.

‘Have you promised the supper dance to another?’ He asked Emma with a small measure of hope.

‘Not yet,’ she smiled, elated that they would have an opportunity to talk.

‘Allow me then, my lady,’ he requested.

‘Thank you,’ Emma glided easily in Arthur’s arms.

‘My sister and a few friends are attending the Opera this Friday,’ he mentioned. ‘If you and Lady Fallon do not have prior engagements, we have additional seats in our box,’ he offered.

‘Oh that will be splendid,’ she politely acknowledged. ‘I will speak to mama and Fallon does love the opera. I am certain she will also be agreeable. I would enjoy your company,’ she boldly added.

He blushed at her acquiescence. The young viscount was not yet accomplished in the courtship of women as was the dashing Earl Braeden Kerrich. Now that was a gentleman totally at ease with the ladies and they adored his attention as much as he enjoyed a beautiful lady on his arm.

The waltz ended. Arthur bowed graciously. 'Thank you for this dance,' he grinned. 'You are a good dancer my lady. I am delighted, my toes are pretty safe.'
Emma laughed shyly. 'I take it you have had an unfortunate encounter or two, Lord Burward.'
'I shall be a gentleman and show tolerance to the debutants who have seemed most embarrassed at their ___ shall we say, lack of skill. A situation that shall remedy itself with time, I am certain,' he laughed as they glided around the dance floor.
'You are most forgiving my lord. I like that,' Emma uttered with a sudden another spurt of boldness. Arthur laughed pleasantly. Emma curtsied, as he returned her to where her mother stood.

Fallon bravely stifled the pain as the libertine shoved her none too gently against the balcony wall. She would not cower. Even though his rough handling gripped her with a sense of fright, Fallon hoped it did not reflect in her eyes or her body language. How could he treat her in this manner? She was a gentle lady...the ton seemed to think so. He was supposed to be a gentleman! Fallon decided the best form of defence was attack.
'You wish to offer for me my lord?'
'What!' Braeden stepped back, all intent on punishing the chit forgotten.
Fallon smiled victoriously. 'You do not presume my lord, that I shall allow you to have your wicked way with me, or risk you compromising me without consequence,' she challenged.

The chit was right. What was he thinking? He took two steps backwards, creating a respectable distance between them. If truth be acknowledged, he had not been thinking. She had riled him so, that he had been driven to ravish her, with the intention that when she would beg him for his love he would humiliatingly thrust her away. Only, she had deprived him of his anticipated pleasure of tasting her delectable lips. She had robbed him of his spoils. He had intended to discard her away from him. He wondered now, would he have had the will to release her? Every part of him wanted her in his arms. His lips ached to taste her.

He watched how her bosom heaved and bobbed beneath her fashionable gown fitting so perfectly against her curvy figure. She felt something too, the chit. His eyes glinted mockingly. Her eyes were dilated. Clearly she was not much in control as she let out. He smiled, a wicked smile, she could still be his, he determined. He aimed to have her. He would bide his time.

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