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Here's a taster... It's from Chapter Five and now that I'm into the story I cannot decide whether to remove it or not. I suppose if you trust the credibility of my writing and story enough, skip to Chapter One... if not, have a peek and then decide! ;)


London 1822

Her brother was an utter twit.

Emily Weatherly tapped her foot impatiently as she watched him leave the ballroom in Lady Whitfield’s wake, quite obviously following a secret assignation with the  beautiful widow in some other part of the mansion.  Just what did he think to accomplish following that woman? Would all his other hopefuls leave him be because he was a cad, a rogue, a scoundrel?

Girlish giggles came from beside her and Emily remembered her present company.  “Oh, for goodness sake, Georgina,” she snapped peevishly. “He’s run off with Lady Whitfield again. Surely you can’t still hold out hopes?”

The pretty blonde smiled broadly. “Mama always says that reformed rakes-”

“Oh, Good Lord,” Emily muttered under her breath, giving the glistening ceiling a good glare. “I have it on good authority that Sebastian has no intention on marrying.”

The blonde’s friend- Miss Sabrina Walcott- shrugged and tinkled merrily, “Oh, but all it will take is one girl to whip him into shape.”

“My brother-”

“He’s not your brother, Emily,” Georgina pointed out slyly, giving her a raised brow for effect. It made Emily quite uncomfortable, that. Lord, the man practically was her brother. They had grown up together, hadn’t they? He was a brooding, insufferable scoundrel with savage good looks and arrogance in abundance. In Emily’s opinion, he did not need his ego inflated any more than it was by the thousands of naïve chits that flocked to him whenever he ventured out into society.

“He might as well be,” Emily stated emphatically. “I’m naught but a sister to him.”

“Then why do you always require a chaperone when you stay with him?” Sabrina Walcott pointed out.

Emily made a vague, irritable gesture with her hand that nearly toppled a tray of champagne flutes a harassed-looking footman was carrying as he scuttled past them. “ I don’t want to end up married to the fool,” she explained. “Like you said, George. I’m not really his sister at all. But I did grow up with him and let me assure you that Sebastian Weatherly is the most incorrigible rake in England.”

Which was true. Emily was constantly privy to her adopted Great Grandmother’s woeful pontificating about her great grandson’s misdemeanours, whoring, and downright aloofness. Indeed, he appeared intent on dragging the revelled Weatherly name through the mud. What was even more shocking was that he had been bestowed all the God-given qualities with which to do it and successfully.  Sebastian was sinfully attractive with thick unkempt hair the colour of coal that he hardly ever bothered to comb. Its casualness and cut often left hunks to fall over his eyes and teasingly curl around his swarthy neck. His eyes were startlingly blue, vividly intent and strikingly unnerving. He could pin you to the floor with a mere look that chilled you to the bone or alternatively veil a mask of indifference that left you wondering what on earth he was thinking- which would  explain his unequivocal success in the gaming hells. But most startling of all was the suavity of his grin, the cheerful tilt of his full, wide lips that bespoke volumes of good mirth. Indeed, Sebastian gave the outward appearance that he was harbouring a secret joke, laughing silently at the world and all those that passed him by. He was tall and broad-shouldered and always immaculately dressed in his attire although rarely immaculately shaven.  But the most startling feature on him had to be his mouth. Perfectly sculpted wide, wicked lips that could send most women into a swooning fit swooped into a devastatingly roguish grin. They were not the lips of a cool, sophisticated gentleman. They were lips that belonged on the mouth of a practised courtesan, scultped ultimately to incite sin and wickedness and lustful thoughts in the minds of innocent debutantes. They were firm, yet meltingly soft, wryly twisted with secret promises of carnal pleasure. Admittedly, even Emily had felt her heart increase tempo when he had thrown her a smile and that was only because she had usually managed to make an utter fool of herself, once by falling down the steps of their London townhouse in front of several servants and, of course, Sebastian himself. 

“Here comes your grandmother,” Georgina murmured hurriedly before sidling away and disappearing into the crowd. Emily stifled a sigh and let her friends go.  Sophie Weatherly could be quite intimidating when she wanted to be, especially if she thought someone was stupid.

Adorned in a regal purple turban and an evening gown in a matching hue, the short Dowager Duchess of Rochester stopped before Emily and squinted up at her with pursed lips. “I say, have you seen my grand-daughter, Emily?”

A blush scoured Emily’s cheeks as Sophie’s words were loud enough to travel half-way across the crowded ballroom. “Grandmama, where is your monocle? It’s me.”

Sophie fumbled briefly at her side and brought her monocle to her eye. “Indeed, it is,” she confirmed stoutly. “Been looking everywhere for you, chit. Where’s Sebastian? I want him to take us home. The evening has turned quite boring.”

Ignoring the amused and knowing looks she was receiving from all the other guests, Emily had to stifle another blush. She cleared her throat delicately and lowered her voice, hoping that only Sophie would hear her and wouldn’t kick up a fuss. “Um… Sebastian is meeting with Lady Whitfield… privately, I believe.”

“He’s what?”

Emily silently groaned. So much for subtlety.

“That impertinent swine!” Sophie was in a right rage now. “Did you see where he went, gel? Out with it, I must know. Can’t wait around here all night while he sates his lust.”

Lowering her voice so that all that left her lips was a humiliated squeak, Emily said, “I’m not sure but they went out that way.”

Sophie marched purposefully across the dance floor to where Emily had pointed, shoving dancers and guests out the way. Lord, how they ever managed to receive invites anywhere during the Season confounded Emily.  What with a Dowager Duchess that was half mad and half blind, a philandering Duke and an adopted clutz, it was hard to imagine that Emily and the Weatherly’s had any friends at all. Every event lead to some scandal involving at least one of them. Almack’s barely tolerated them as it was and Emily only because of her association with the Weatherly’s; otherwise she would be out and out banned entirely. How they managed to function without burning London to the ground was beyond Emily, but there you have it. They were the most dysfunctional trio to ever have graced a ballroom, soirée or party.

Already mortified beyond belief, Emily spun around ready to depart only to whack the very same footman who’d evaded her earlier. Five flutes of champagne spilled down her cleavage, staining the garishly pink ball gown she wore at Sophie’s insistence. Horrified, she uttered a hasty apology and fled to the safety of their ducal coach outside.

The evening, she hoped, could not get any worse than this.