Scandal of Love

By: Janelle Daniels

“I am glad to find that you are both looking well this evening. I hope that I will be able to secure a dance with each of you,” Quinton said, charm flowing naturally from his voice.

He could tell they were both pleased by his offer. It was expected that he would dance with his fiancée, especially to cement their relationship in the eyes of society, but it went far and beyond the call of duty to pay attention to her friend as well.

He extended his arm to the lady in the rose gown and asked, “Will you do me the honor?”

There was a gasp behind him and the two women looked a bit stunned as if they weren’t sure what they should do. Finally, the lady nodded, accepting his arm.

Walking to the floor, they lined up for the dance.

“What are you doing?” she hissed.

Quinton was a bit confused. “I’m dancing with you. It seemed appropriate,” he whispered, making sure only she heard his words.

She shook her head. “You are supposed to be dancing with Lady Sera, not me. Everyone was expecting you to ask her first.”

Shock pumped through him. “You’re not Lady Sera?”

“What?” Now she was the one who looked shock. “You thought I was Lady Sera?”

“Yes, her name was announced before yours but you walked in first.”

She bit her bottom lip. “Oh. Yes, I could see how that would cause confusion. I’m Lady Aubrey, Lady Sera’s friend.”

She was Lady Aubrey. That meant—could it be true?

He looked wildly around the room until he locked eyes with the woman in ivory. The woman whom he had thought was his fiancée’s best friend. The woman who was to be his wife.

He almost stopped breathing as he looked at her, taking in every inch. She would belong to him, only him. A fierce wave of possessiveness and satisfaction swept through him. She would be his.

To everyone else in the room, everything was put to rights. Although he had asked the best friend to dance, he was gazing longingly at the woman whom he supposedly loved. He just seemed much more the gentleman to dance with the less beautiful woman first.

His eyebrow arched when he saw a twinkle in her eye. Had she guessed what had happened? She seemed to be amused by the situation. He hoped she was.

“I apologize for the confusion,” he said, turning his attention back to Aubrey. “This shouldn’t interfere with our charade.”

“I agree. Everyone seems to be going back to their own business. As long as you dance with Lady Sera next, it should be fine.”

He nodded in agreement as the music began.

The quadrille was an intricate dance, but he had memorized the steps long before. At this point, it was muscle memory that got him through the movements. Every thought was on Sera.

After the last bow, signaling the end of the dance, Quinton escorted Aubrey back toward Sera. “Lady Sera, might I claim you for the next?” he asked, his voice a rich timbre.

A small smile appeared on her lips. “I would like nothing more.” She favored him with a deep curtsy.

The room quieted again, and Quinton felt everyone’s eyes on his back. He didn’t care though. All he could think about was this woman: how she looked, smelled, moved. His whole body seemed to be in tune with her.

Placing her hand on his arm as if they were familiar with each other, he led her to the floor. The first few notes of a waltz began, casting the room in a romantic tone. A few sighs could be heard from across the room as he slowly brought Sera against him.

He wanted to pull her into him, plaster her against his frame, but that would only cause another scandal. No, they had to behave with the utmost propriety, but he could dream about it.

As the introduction music ended, Quinton began the steps that had them twirling in each other’s arms around the floor.

She fit against him so perfectly. They seemed in tune with each other’s steps. So much so that he had no problem leading her through the music, their steps light as they swirled through the room.

He knew everyone was watching. Everyone was looking for evidence of their passion. And he was never one to disappoint. He had been prepared to feign desire, but with Sera, no pretense was necessary.

He wanted her. And it was plain for everyone to see.

He wondered if she felt the same pull as he, if she were just as in tune with him as he was with her.

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