His Perfect Bride(8)

By: Jenn Langston

Hoping to not be overtaken, she hastened through one set of double doors leading to the terrace. She dismissed the idea of wandering around the gardens alone, as it was too dangerous. Standing at the railing, she surveyed her surroundings. The beauty of the flowers before her did nothing to either ease the anger or distract from her irritation. The injustice clawed at her throat, and she was on the verge of both screaming in frustration and breaking down in tears.

In her present state, she could not face her mother, especially in such a public setting. Her mother would be here soon, and Brianna still needed more time to regain herself and still her shaking hands. Looking around, she was disappointed to see the terrace lacked the normal niches that could have proven useful.

Brianna silently cursed her ill fortune, for there was no large crowd to get lost in either. One couple quietly conversed off to the side while a lone gentleman enjoyed the sight of the gardens on the other side. Feeling desperate, she located a potted plant in a large ornate vase set off on the far wall. Standing behind it, she pressed herself against the house, but her light blue ball gown and petticoats stuck out farther than the planter, calling attention to her like a beacon.

She needed something dark to place in front of her to obstruct the view. As her eyes scanned the terrace once again, she realized the only thing that could potentially hide her was the gentleman in black evening attire. Without a choice, Brianna approached him and gently tugged on his arm, ignoring the warnings running through her mind. When he turned and looked at her with his piercing blue eyes, Brianna nearly lost all thought. He was by far the most handsome man she had ever seen.

“May I help you?” he asked in a rich, deep voice that reverberated through her body.

“My lord, will you help me?” she asked, inadequately copying his words. His perfection had her tongue tied, and she could think of nothing better to say.

“Of course,” he replied.

Brianna inwardly let out a sigh and, without thinking, grabbed his hand to lead him behind the planter. Feeling the strength of his fingers through her gloved hand, she knew she had made a grave mistake. Her stomach felt as though it was doing flips, and her body felt warm and tingly.

Once hidden behind the large plant, she pulled him forward to ensure she was covered. In the dark corner, any prying eyes would fail to notice that two people were lodged behind the planter. Relieved, she leaned back against the wall and smiled up at the beautiful man in appreciation for his help.

His mouth opened, and she suspected he would question her, but at that instant she heard her mother calling. She could not risk holding a conversation, so she held up her hand trying to quiet him. The confusion in his eyes was evident. He apparently didn’t understand her need for silence. As the first sounds came out of his mouth, she did the only thing she could think of to silence him. Grabbing the lapels of his jacket, she drew him down and pressed her closed mouth against his.

Richard, for once in his life, was completely speechless. He’d spent an exhausting half of the ball speaking with and being introduced to lady after lady, and he tired of it. He discovered every woman in attendance had a daughter or acquaintance to introduce to him. If all he obtained was one second with each lady, he would never be able to determine who would suit him.

He escaped to the terrace to relax and reevaluate his plan when he was disturbed. Now, contrary to the other ladies wanting introductions, this one was forcing herself upon him. He didn’t know what she hoped to gain from this chaste kiss, but she would not receive it this way. On the verge of stepping back from her, he halted, hearing someone calling.

“Brianna! Where did you go?” an obviously exasperated woman asked.

Suddenly it all clicked. Any minute, he knew they would be interrupted by shocked ladies demanding he marry this unknown girl. They had successfully trapped him, and he knew he could not escape his fate. A surge of anger consumed him, and he decided to show this naïve girl exactly what she was signing herself up for.

Richard wrapped his arms around her, bringing her firmly against him. Using his lips, he coaxed and demanded she open up to him. Her sigh gave him the opportunity he was looking for, and he slid his tongue into her hot mouth. Instantly lust speared him and rendered him senseless. This girl had obviously never been kissed before, and he felt an odd pleasure at being the one to teach her. She learned fast, and before long his fingers itched to unfasten her dress and take what she willingly offered.

The distant sounds of laughter penetrated through his lust and, realizing where they were, he stepped away from her. She opened her hazel eyes and gazed at him with such passion Richard fought the urge to throw her over his shoulder and take her to a bed. Instead, he focused on slowing his growing lust and studied her. She was strikingly beautiful.

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