Chapter 6

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Jacob couldn't help but like this girl and he was having a fine time baiting her. He chuckled when she began to stammer again.

"There's no need to be afraid, I'm not going to harm you," he said, using his placating tone.

She looked up at him then, raising her face to look at him for the first time since he'd come upon her. "I'm not afraid, I'm only mortified," she said matter of factly, as if it had never occurred to her that he could be of any danger. She was honest and entertaining even, he'd give her that.

To say that she was beautiful would be an understatement. He'd never seen someone quite so fair, but her cheeks were pink, from all his teasing, no doubt. And her mouth was perfect, a startling red against her skin, her nose straight. But he was most surprised to see her eyes, like two blue sapphires, gazing at him with a guilelessness that tugged at his heart.

He lowered his gaze and was pleased by what he saw. She was taller than most women of his acquaintance, she almost reached up to his chin which was quite a feat considering he was six feet and two inches tall. And she also happened to have a sinful body, curved in all the right places.

He meant to say something charming or intelligent, but it seemed that his intellect had deserted him. The only brain in his body that seemed to be working now was the one between his legs.

Damn, he knew he should've taken up on that pretty wench's offer in the pub last night.

Luckily, she spoke first. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have spied on you," she said, her eyes steady. Hell, even her voice was musical.

"I'm surprised you aren't trying to deny it," he said.

A shrug. "There's no point."

Jacob decided that she was the most sensible woman in all of Christendom.

"I like you, miss...?" He raised a brow.

"Olivia," she blushed.

"Miss Olivia, Jacob Townshend at your service," he murmured with a bow.


She didn't bother correcting him with her title. This had to be the most exciting day of her life, Olivia thought to herself.

He'd said he liked her. The pleasure at his compliment had her feeling lightheaded.

Their eyes held and for a moment, Olivia forgot where she was and who she was. And then he looked down, she looked down too.

Oh lord.

Her puppy was sniffing and nipping at his boots. And then he lifted his small leg and peed before she could stop him.

Olivia closed her eyes, wanting the ground to open up and swallow her.

She finally opened her eyes, apologising profusely only to find him bent with the dog, scratching its ears. "I gather he's yours?"

"Yes, he isn't trained yet," she added, bending down.

"Hmm, that much was evident," he laughed while the puppy licked whatever part of him that he could reach. "But it's fine, I love dogs," he smiled.

Olivia was suddenly very jealous of dogs.

"What's his name?" he asked, pulling Olivia by the hand to sit next to him.

"I haven't thought of anything suitable yet," she shrugged, tracing patterns on her slippers with her finger because she couldn't look at him without blushing. "He's quite a menace, but he's also adorable."

"I think we should call him that then," he grinned, eyeing his wet boots.

Menace.

She laughed and nodded, liking the sound of it.

"You have a lovely laugh," Jacob blurted, and cringed inwardly at his lack of finesse.

"Thank you," she murmured, her cheeks turning a delightful shade of pink again.

God, he was blubbering the way he had when he'd had his first tumble.

Besides, it was not like he was going to ravish her. It was clear that she was an innocent and Jacob liked to keep the untouched maids at bay. Still, he was having a damned hard time resisting her, she was far too alluring for her own good.

From her clothes, it was clear that she was a Lady.

"Have you made your debut then?" He asked casually, not knowing why he was interested.

"I will in a couple of days," she replied, not sounding very excited.

"Ah," Jacob nodded. She looked at him questioningly. "It's unusual for a young lady to stray so far into the country all alone. So I suspect the reason you'd needed this escape was because you aren't very pleased about your debut?" He clarified.

She seemed shocked at his perceptiveness. And then, "it isn't that I am not pleased, I am just nervous. It's quite a lot to take. And my father has expectations of me. I must make a good match. Also, I don't know what to expect from my suitors or how to attract them." She seemed adorably disgruntled.

Jacob doubted she'd have any trouble in attracting the suitors. But she might be right about the part where she didn't know what to expect of them.

He shifted and caught her chin in his hands, making her look at his face.

"You're going to do amazingly well and you'll have the best of gentlemen eating out of your hands. All you need to do is to smile and be confident. I'm not saying that it's going to be a cakewalk, the ton is often unkind, but you will deal with it and you will always find a way to be happy. Alright, Liv?"

Olivia could feel the intensity of his gaze and she felt his words resonate deep within her.

She nodded slowly, as if in a trance.

She startled when they heard someone hollering.

"Where the hell are you, Townshend?" came a man's voice.

Jacob got up then, "I should be going now, my friend is looking for me." She nodded, although the look on her face betrayed her disappointment.

He didn't want to go, not yet. But if Peter saw him with Olivia, he wouldn't hear the end of it.

"Promise me you'll be alright," he urged.

"I promise," she smiled up at him.

Jacob bent down and placed a chaste, almost brotherly kiss on her cheek and left. He knew she wouldn't read too much into it, she wouldn't suddenly fancy herself in love with him, sensible girl that she was.

***

Olivia raced back home, Menace in tow. She ran straight to her chambers, wanting to find the diary she'd kept until the day her mother had passed four years ago.

She jumped onto her bed and opened the old leather bound booklet. She slowly traced the pages, a soft smile on her face.

Then she turned a fresh page and made an entry, her first one in a very long time.

13 June, 1815
Dear diary,
I think I'm in love.

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