Chapter 10

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With his hand hot and firm at her lower back, Fallon’s breath caught at his intimate touch. Fallon tried to ignore the erotic sensation his touched evoked, but it was difficult when his fingers seemed to caress her flesh tauntingly, as Braeden guided her the short distance to where his grandmother was regally seated on a chaise sofa.

‘Grandmère, may I present Lady Fallon Brightmore.’

‘Hampton, it is about time you stopped monopolizing Lady Fallon’s attention,’ the dowager countess scolded.

‘”Monopolizing?” Lady Fallon has only just arrived,’ Braeden countered.

‘She arrived more than ten minutes ago,’ the dowager reminded her grandson.

‘Good evening Countess,’ Fallon intervened.  ‘I was thirsty and asked Lord Hampton for a drink.’

The Dowager cast a cynical look at Fallon.  ‘Why would you come to Hampton’s defence, I wonder,’ she smirked.

Fallon could feel the heat wash over her face.  Why did she lie for the cold, haughty profligate?  She should have exposed the swine to his grandmother.

‘There you see, grandmère,’ Braeden grinned widely.  ‘I was just being the perfect host.’

‘Go and get me a refill,’ the dowager handed her glass to her grandson.

‘Yes grandmère.’

 The dowager patted the seat next to her, looking at Fallon invitingly.  Fallon observed her glass was not even empty, when she dismissed Braeden.

‘I was tired of his morose company, so I arranged this ball,’ the dowager looked around the room, happily taking note of the goings on of her invited guests.

‘I beg your pardon?’

‘I have had to suffer Hampton’s company each night at supper.  He has been like a bear with a sore head, grumpy and irksome,’ she imparted.

Fallon was flabbergasted.  ‘I find that hard to believe.’

The dowager laughed.  ‘Hampton can be credited in the art of intelligent conversation and entertainment.  However, recently that seemed to have eluded him, but he is smiling and happy as a lark this evening,’ the dowager’s eyes raked over Fallon.

Fallon shifted her eyes away.  ‘Perhaps he has won some money at cards or the horses today.’

‘I do believe someone has brightened his evening,’ the dowager prodded.

‘There is a lovely mix of the ton here,’ Fallon tried to change the conversation.

‘It would be, if he was not here,’ the dowager jerked her head in the direction of  

Chilton Wentworth, the Duke of Baxendale.

Fallon was surprised.  She did not believe the dowager, stern as she was would invite anybody, even a duke if she really did not want him in her home.

‘Yet you invited him,’ Fallon dared to challenge the fearsome dowager.

‘It was Hampton.  Clearly his brain is a bit muddy these days.’

Back to him again!

Well,’ Fallon stood up, placing her empty glass on a side table next to the dowager.  ‘Let me greet some of your other guests.’

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