Wendy blinked. There clinging to the side of the roof like some sort of—of—of demented bat was the most handsome young man she had ever had the pleasure of seeing up close. “And just who are you and why are you upon my roof in such a manner?” she asked, not showing an ounce of the startled fear she should have at such an occurrence. Actually the whole situation surprised her greatly at how well she had managed to keep her composure.
When he did not respond Wendy tried again.
“I assure you sir; if you do not speak in a civilized manner within the next few seconds I will undoubtedly shout the house down and have my father call the constable.”
The boy had the audacity to grin at her. One charming eyebrow rose higher than the other and he said simply, “Fibber. If you were going to call the constable you would have done so already. Clearly you are just as fascinated by me as I am by you.”
Her jaw dropped.
Urgh. Wendy placed a hand on her hip and gave him a surprised grin herself before jauntily responding. “Is that so? Then excuse me while I prove my words.” She then turned away from the balcony and into the house and was a good five feet from the bedroom door leading to the hallway by time the young man had caught her arm and placed a hand on her mouth.
“Shh…” he whispered. “Please do not. I will answer all you wish of me.”
Her heart leapt in her throat when she realized just how close they were together. “Unhand me, you oaf,” she muttered into his hand as she pushed away.
He hovered toward her.
“And stand like a proper person as well.” She put her hands on her hips again. “It is most disturbing to see someone flying about like you do.”
That roguish smile never left his face. “I love how you are not afraid of me.”
Of all the ridiculous things to say to her. “Of course I am not afraid of you. Why should I be?”
He shrugged and floated down the several inches or so until his feet touched the floor beneath.
He was much taller than she thought he would be! “So you will answer anything I ask?” She walked slowly around him. Though he looked stylish enough she had no notion of why he chose to dress in such a casual manner, merely shirtsleeves, without a waistcoat or jacket.
“Anything you wish to know.”
She chuckled. “Afraid of the constable, are we?”
The boy laughed. “What? Why ever for?”
She was nonplussed. “Is that not why you said you would answer any question, so that I would not call the constable?”
She began to wonder if any other person could still continue to laugh as he did and people think them sane.
“Goodness, no!” He passed the bed and walked over to the chair she had been sitting on when she read to her brothers and plopped down. “I asked you not to shout the house down and involve your father. Because if you did, he would no doubt tell you to stop speaking with me and I would not be able to hear anymore of the daring book you read tonight.”
“That is all? Because you wish to speak to me and hear me read?” Her heart picked up even more speed.
“Well of course, is that not enough?”
She shrugged and walked over to the bench in front of her bed, wanting to sit down now that he was. It was not like a lady to entertain gentleman callers in their rooms and just not done to be sitting on one’s bed when one did so. Moving the pretty pink afghan to the side a bit more, she sat elegantly down on the white bench and crossed one foot behind her ankle, just as her mother taught her.
She could see that the young man had watched her every move, he grinned with the ankle crossing, but thankfully was smart enough to not say anything.
“I fear you have more bravery than brains,” she said to keep the conversation in her court.
He lounged farther back in the chair, propping one leg hideously over the arm as only a rapscallion would do. “And why is that?”
It was her turn to chuckle. “Why any person willing to flit about spying on girls during the day and then hide upon their balconies at night and then purposefully entering their room and causing havoc to their furniture without even a hello or proper introduction or family connections—or anything of the like!—deserves what will happen to him when he gets caught.”
The young man grinned and threw an arm behind his head. Honestly he looked like a handsome buffoon sitting as he was. “Oh, but I never get caught.”
“Never?” She sincerely doubted that.
“Never.” He winked.
She rolled her eyes and flicked at imaginary dust upon her skirts. “Well, boy, this has been an—er, interesting evening—but I fear it is time I went to sleep.” She refused to allow him to have the upperhand.
“So what does that mean?” he asked, feigning innocence.
She pointed to the window. “It means to leave, sir. Now.”
His jaw dropped. “Are you serious? You want me to leave, now that the fun has just begun?”
Absolutely not. “I am completely serious.”
He laughed. “Liar.”
“Sir! I am not in the habit of being laughed at, or called a liar. Something you persist on doing.”
“Well, then perhaps you should not behave in such a manner and then I would not do either.”
She gasped. The gall of some people!
“But then again if you did not have the gumption you did this would all be much more incredibly boring than it is. And so here I remain. At my leisure. Enjoying the company of a very deliberately adorable female and wishing I could stay longer.”
The cad. She could not help it. She laughed. Hard. And then asked, “What is your name, boy?”
He dropped his leg off the arm of the chair and sat up slightly. “What? Are you saying you do not know?”
She would have rolled her eyes again, but instead smirked and shook her head.
He smirked back, clearly loving this game. “My dearest girl, are you actually saying my reputation has not preceded me? I thought everyone knew who the great flying man was?”
“Yes. I am sure.” Sarcasm dripping with every syllable. “I am certain there have been many, many rumors amongst the lower class—all about your defying—”
He sprung from the chair and nearly pounced upon her. So sudden and so rash were his movements, she flinched as she truly thought he would careen right into her. But he halted and pulled back just inches away. Then while her chest was settling back down, he hung about in the air, hovering only two feet away—way too close for comfort—and whispered, “Why the game Windy girl? I will not be bated with your snobbery. If you wish to keep me, do not be so silly as to use class distinction in our banter. You are above that. It is what I admire about you most. That you do not truly believe yourself above anyone.” And then he did the most surprising and despicable thing yet.
He kissed her.