He leaned in conspiratorially. "I have a dark side."

She laughed. A mischievous smile reached his lips, and she melted internally.

"How come you're here?" he asked.

"Vita's idea, as you might have guessed," Izzy said. "She's the flapper between us."

He wrinkled his nose in disgust. "Flappers. Silly girls with too much time on their hands and ideas in their heads."

Izzy's eyes widened at his sudden mood change, but his features relaxed and his frown disappeared. "They pale in comparison to you."

Izzy blushed at the compliment. She was glad Vita had forced her to wear that red dress after all.

"I don't know." She shrugged with calculated modesty. "Vita fits in wherever she goes, I envy her that."

"I don't find you out of place here," Mr. Lang replied.

His eyes were warm and his lips stretched into a smile. He was so close, Izzy would barely have had to move to kiss him. She blinked at his mouth. Was she really thinking of kissing a man? In public?

"I'm glad you don't," she said.

Her voice was low, and his reply was a whisper in her ear.

"I'm glad you're here."

His breath caressed her skin. She closed her eyes.

"Please, call me Izzy."

"I'm glad you're here, Izzy."

Her heartbeat pounded in her ears, erasing all other sound. He was so close. So perfect.

She waited.

Then his lips were on hers and his hands were at her waist and they were kissing and she forgot about the world. She slid her hands behind his ears and in his hair, drawing him near.

It ended more quickly than she expected. He withdrew from her touch and she opened her eyes, out of breath and flushed.

"I apologise," he said, his handsome face tense, "I shouldn't have done that."

He stood up, and she was too stunned to grab him before he stepped out of her reach.

"No!" she said. "It's all right, I wanted you to!"

She left the windowsill and attempted to grab his hand, but he flinched and she stopped mid-gesture.

"What's wrong?"

Her voice broke a little, annoyingly so.

"I know your father will never approve of me," he said, his tone stern and sad. "It's not right of me to lead you on."

"You're not leading me on!" She shook her head, tears welling up in her eyes. "And I don't care about my father. I... I care about you."

He nodded, his gaze on the floor and his lips in a thin line.

"Izzy, you're a beautiful and intelligent woman. You can find a much better match than me."

She planted her feet on the floor and closed her fists, stubborn and upset. "But I don't want another match. I want you."

Robert sighed. Around them, people had started to notice the scene. They looked up from their drinks and interrupted their conversations to watch them. Izzy's cheeks reddened even more fiercely.

"Let's be reasonable," Robert said, his voice composed. "You don't want to make any decision tonight you'll regret tomorrow."

He sounded so mature, she just wanted to shake him.

The Bright and the LostRead this story for FREE!