Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Temptation of a Kiss ~ Chapter 3

Chapter 3

Quentin saw the exchange-taking place between Landon and Marcy. He quickly made his way through the crowd with three drinks in his hands. “Ah here you are Landon. Our party is waiting for us to return with their beverages.” He placed himself between them. Quentin could see the fury within Landon’s eyes. Quentin turned and faced Marcy. “That will be enough for tonight thank you Lady Offensive who dwells in the town of Wicked.” He then turned to Landon who looked as if he was going to remove Marcy’s head from her body. “Time to go Landon.” Quentin nudged Landon to turn away from her. He was grateful when Landon did.

“I will have my reprisal Landon. You cannot ignore me and think no more of me than a rejected dog,” Marcy shouted.

Quentin stopped and faced her. “Even a discarded dog is looked upon with some degree of kindness. You have fallen well beneath a lowly dog. Your heart is truly hollow Lady.” He turned to join the others. He had wanted to say those things to her years ago.

The group could see what had just taken place. Devon was glad Quentin had made it there when he did, if not, Devon knew he was going to have to intervene. Devon could not stand the manipulating dishonest woman.

“Who was that Landon was speaking with?” Sarah asked Devon.

“No one who you would care to meet my love,” Devon said.

“There is a horrid story with them, but now is neither the time nor the place for such things,”Grams said. “She is an awful woman and I will fill you girls in later.”

Brook wanted to know who that woman was. She gazed at Landon as he walked to the group. Their eyes locked and Landon concentrated on Brook’s face. He could see the questioning confusion in her eyes.

The two men came up and sat down with the group. Everyone was trying not to stare at Landon, but they all were. Landon drank his drink quickly. The group remained quiet for a long time.

Landon stood up and said, “Does anyone care to take our party elsewhere?”

“Yes,” everyone replied at the same time. It drew some attention from the crowds around them.

Without thinking, Landon stood in front of Brook and offered her his hand. She took it and smiled at him with warmth. He then took her hand and placed it on his arm to escort her out to the carriages.

“Quentin how did you arrive this evening my boy?” Grams asked.

“By horse my Lady,”Quentin said.

“Do you care to ride in one of the carriages?” Grams asked.

Quentin looked to the sky. “It is a fare night. I thank you but I think I shall ride. I assume we will all re gather at your mumble abode?”

“I do believe so unless anyone has another suggestion,” Grams said. She waited for someone to say something. “Well then, it is off to the Price Estate.”

Devon helped the women into the carriage, making sure Sarah was last. Before helping her in too, he kissed her on the lips and whispered something in her ear. Sarah giggled and then entered the carriage.

Devon took a seat in the second carriage across from Landon. “Are you alright?”

Landon continued to stare out the window. “I truly loath that woman Devon. She made reference to Brook as slumming.”

Devon took a deep breath in. “We all know what kind of woman she is Landon. Do not allow her to drag you in. It is what she wants after all.” Devon shifted in his seat. “Did she bring it up again?”

Landon was still staring out the window. “Ya she did. Cold heartless bitch.”

Devon raised his eyebrows. He was not use to hearing Landon speak that way. “It seems to me she has gotten what she wanted tonight.”

Landon looked at Devon.“What do you mean? I hardly exchanged words with the woman.”

Devon leaned forward.“Think about it Landon. What are you doing right now? Thinking about her? She is doing what she does every time you see her. Making you leave and think about her for the rest of the night.”

Landon said, “You are right. She is not worth my time or energy.”

Shortly after the carriage pulled away from the ball, Grams dove right into the nights events.

“Marcy Croft was Landon’s fiancée a few years back. It was an arranged marriage by both parents. As beautiful as she is, the woman is pure evil.”

“What happened?” Sarah asked.

“It started with the parents of both of them. The two families had wanted to join their bloodlines for years. When Landon was still a mere child it was told to him that he was to marry one of the Croft girls. Upon the birth of Lucy, Marcy’s sister, a contract was drawn up for the promise of marriage between Landon and Lucy.

Brook interrupted. “So how was it then that he was engaged to Marcy?”

“While in the last stages of their engagement, Lucy was found to be with child. Landon refused to raise another man’s baby so the engagement was broken off by Landon himself.”

Sarah asked, “So the family then had intended Landon to marry Marcy?”

“Yes and they were engaged for nearly a year. Landon kept putting the marriage off. Dates were set then cancelled and then set again. My true belief is that Landon will never marry unless it is for love. Well anyways, a month before the last date was set Marcy’s family announced she was with child.”

Sarah gasped and then covered her mouth with her hand. “Landon has a child?”

“No no no my dear. He insisted the child could not be his. Marcy was eight weeks with child and Landon said they had had relations only once 5 months earlier.”

Brook felt numb all over. She didn’t want to hear anymore of the story.

Grams continued. “Marcy ended up losing the baby and said it was due to the stress Landon had caused her by breaking their arrangement.” Grams gazed up at the roof of the carriage and placed both hands over her heart. She shook her head slowly back and forth.“That poor poor boy. He held himself responsible for quite some time after that.”

Sarah said, “Why, it was not his child? He had every right to refuse the marriage. Lady Croft has no one to blame other than herself.”

“I could not agree more my dear. Marcy takes each opportunity to remind Landon of that tragic year when they see one another,” Grams said.

In a soft voice Brook said, “That is probably the reason he decided to travel the world.”

“I believe you to be right Brook,” Grams said.

The carriages arrived at the Price Estate. The door opened to reveal Landon and Devon standing there. Devon helped Grams down and then Sarah.

Landon approached the carriage smiling at Brook. She emerged from the carriage and placed her hand in his. Landon cradled Brooks hand within his.

“Quentin has not yet arrived?” Grams asked.

“You know Quentin Grams. He most likely became side tracked. I am sure he will show up before the night has ended,” Landon said. He strolled over to Grams and offered his free arm to her.

“You have been keeping me waiting all night for the slightest touch of your delicious teasing hand onto me. You know how it drives me mad. Why do you tease me so?” Landon said to Grams.

Grams let out a loud laugh. “How else am I to keep you on your toes and at my feet?” Grams replied while still laughing.

Sarah giggled with Brook.“I do not think I will ever become use to the way you two talk to one another,”Brook said. “Can you imagine what the ton would say if they heard the two of you carrying on in this manner.”

Devon chuckled. “What makes you think they haven’t Brook?” Devon pointed to Landon and said, “He loves to make a spectacle of himself as much as Grams does. Two years ago they caused an elderly woman to faint.”

“Lady Huntington is her name,” Grams stated.

“Yes well, the two of you were quite proud with your accomplishment for the evening,” Devon said.

This caused a roar of laughter from everyone as the group entered through the front doors. Devon led the way to the large sitting room at the front of the house off to the right of the front doors.

Landon and Devon both moved behind the bar to pour drinks. The women took their usual places on the sofas.

Devon gazed up at the women. “I never imagined two months ago I could be this happy. I feel so alive and alert. Life is good Landon.”

Landon said, “Of course it’s good, you’re in love.”

“It is more than just that. I have close friends, a growing family, and Sarah. It is if I was wondering around missing half of me and I was not even aware of it.”

Landon chuckled. “You sound like a buffoon Devon. Wait! You are not going to faint are you? If so, I need a warning.”

Devon popped the cork out of the bottle of wine. “Someday Landon you will meet a woman whom consumes your every thought. When that day arrives, come find me and we’ll talk. When I say Sarah is my everything…I truly mean she is everything.” Devon smiled and walked over to the women.

Landon shook his head at his foolish friend. Love. Everything. Come on. A mere fancy that will fade and then where will he be. Trapped is what he will be. Landon laughed to himself.

Sarah turned to Brook and asked, “Do tell us Brook what happened on the dance floor with you and Quentin?”

“I kept looking to my feet and forgot the steps,” Brook said,

“Yes but then Landon swooped in and you looked as though you had been dancing since you could walk,”Sarah said.

Grams let out a giggle.

The sound of the front doors closing turned everyone’s head in that direction saving Brook from answering a question she was not ready to answer.

“I am here please remain seated,” Quentin said as he entered the room and bowed with dramatic fashion.

Sarah said to Devon.“Your friends are silly.”

“Silly? That is no way to describe a man Sarah,” Landon said.

“Have you seen one in the room?” Brook asked.

“Seen what?” Landon replied.

“A man,” Brook answered.

Landon stood from his chair and asked, “What is it you believe makes a man a man?”

“Strength!” Grams shouted.

Landon held his arm up and popped his bicep muscle.

Sarah added, “Wit.”

Landon then moved his hand to cover his chin as if he was thinking hard.

Brook said, “Impressive dance moves.”

Landon stepped forward and pulled Brook to her feet. He held Brook against the length of his body and began to dance with her in his arms. He maneuvered them to the open area in the large room. Landon twirled her and moved with her about the room.

Brook was giggling until he dipped her low. As he did, he pulled up Brook’s right leg to his hip.

“Am I impressing you now, Red?” Landon asked. His words were slow and deep.

Brook did not answer. Instead, she allowed her arms and head to fall back. This caused her body to be at his mercy within his arms.

Landon was so close to her breasts. Brook O’Brien you are sinful.

“I believe you have mastered the art of teasing Brook.” Grams turned to Devon and said, “You see I have rubbed off on her my boy.”

“Oh Grams, in more ways than we can count,” Devon replied.

Landon slowly lifted Brook to face him while still holding her in the dip. He was mere inches away from Brook’s lips. Landon softly whispered, “Little girls who play with fire always get burned.”

Brook gave him a devilish smile. “You do call me Red…do you not?”

Landon leaned closer and said softly, “The kind of burn I will deliver onto your sinfully seductive body will scare you, Red.” Landon then held her gaze for a moment longer just long enough to watch her lips part with wonder and then dropped her to the floor on her bottom.

© copyright 2012
Chapter 4 Continued Next Monday

The Temptation of a Kiss ~ Chapter 2

Chapter 2

6 weeks earlier

Brook sat quiet and wide eyed as she listened to Grams tell Lady Croft to mind her own business. The sudden question coming from Lady Croft to Sarah concerning Devon and Sarah’s scandal had sent Grams into the most vicious sharp-tongued frenzy.

“I shall quickly remind you of your own daughter’s scandalous marriage to the father of her child, which is in question though out town.”

Lady Croft placed her hand at her chest and said, “I assure you and the rest of the ton, the marriage is honorable and sound, as is their child.”

Grams remained seated and said, “Yes well, I highly doubt that. Any young woman would most certainly not jump between the sheets with that bumbling idiot, unless she was already with child.”

Lady Croft gasped at Grams frankness.

“Oh shut your mouth Able. You and I are no fools and for that reason alone, I dare say it is best to keep to your own business. Roomers coming from the right source can be very damaging to one’s reputation,” Grams said.

Lady Croft then walked away without another word to Sarah or Grams.

Grams took Sarah’s hand in her own and whispered to both her and Brook, “Direct and to the point is the best way to handle these upright gossipy woman.”

Brook smiled at how bold Grams remained even in public. She was use to it at the Price Estate. Grams never shied away from voicing neither her thoughts nor opinions. Brook secretly questioned whether they were related somehow.

Sarah turned to Grams and said, “I have given thought to remaining with Lady Wilcox until my marriage. It is creating a scandal with Devon and me dwelling under the same roof.”

Grams said, “Do you honestly give weight to the tons judgment of you Sarah?”

Sarah smiled. “No I do not. My fear is for the family.”

“Well fear not my child. I can assure you, Devon nor do I care one bit what is said. Let them talk,” Grams said.

Brook giggled. “Touché Grams!” Brook agreed with her.

“Touché? I am frightened to ask to what.”

The Ladies all looked up to see a tall young man with brown hair and large brown eyes standing before them.

Grams burst out, “Oh my dear Quentin! I dare ask how you have been my boy.”

Quentin smiled and said, “Quit well thank you. When I saw you I had hoped to see Devon close by.”

“He will be along shortly. It has had to have been five years since I last set eyes upon you,”Grams said.

“That sounds about right. The military keeps me moving often. I hold many regrets for not keeping in contact with you.”

“Yes, well, all is forgiven, now sit down. I would like to introduce Brook O’Brien and Sarah McMay, Devon’s wife to be,” Grams said. “Ladies this is Quentin Alexander an old dear friend of Devon and Landon’s.”

Quentin took each of their hands and kissed them after bowing of course. He then took a seat next to Brook on Grams left. The group remained silent for a short while. Brook noticed Sarah was fidgeting. Brook slowly covered her hand over both of Sarah’s in her lap. Brook continued looking forward and smiled softly. She knew Sarah had looked to her.

“I must confess that I was under the impression Lady Brook was to marry Devon.” Quentin moved his gaze to Brook. “Landon had spoken so often of you I assumed it was to be you,”Quentin said.

Brook did not look at him at first. “I suppose one will always draw an incorrect notion when one assumes. Next time it may serve you better to ask of things you do not know.”

Quentin chuckled. “My intension was not to offend you Lady Brook. I happen to be merely stating-

Brook’s gaze flew to him. “Offend? I dare say Sir, you are full of assumptions.” She could feel Sarah squeezing her fingers tightly. “I suppose you are now going to assume Landon and I hold interest in one another?”

Quentin began to say,“Well-

“Well let me assure you, we do not. And further more we are friends is all,” Brook said.

Quentin cleared his throat. “Would you care to dance Lady Brook?” He stood up in front of her.

“Yes, yes I would,”Brook said quickly. She suddenly grew uncomfortable at the mention of Landon. Quentin’s offer was the perfect excuse to remove herself from the group. Feeling her cheeks grow warm she had to do something.

Quentin held out his hand for Brook and gave Sarah a quick wink. Sarah drew her eyebrows together in confusion with his intentions.

As they approached the dance area Brook said, “I apologize for my quick words with you Sir Quentin. We had been discussing the affects of one who gossips about others.”

“Quite understandable Lady Brook. Your advice was well taken and I do promise to be more careful in the future,” Quentin said.

Brook smiled and laughed slightly.

“He was right,” Quentin said.

“Who was right?” Brook asked.

“Landon. He told me your smile could change the mood of a room. And that your laugh was contagious,” Quentin said.

Brook’s expression held but her mind was racing. I wonder what else Landon had to say about me and why, why was he speaking about me?

“Are there any warnings before we begin?” Quentin asked.

Brook smiled and said,“I favor most men’s left feet, but if you prefer for me to step on your right, I will make an effort towards it.”

Quentin chuckled. “No, the left is fine with me Lady Brook. Am I allowed to lead or will it be a case of you decide as we dance?”

At that moment, the music began. Brook smiled devilishly at him and said, “I think I shall surprise you Sir Quentin.” She placed her hand in his. “Did Landon tell you I dance like a mule on ice?”

Quentin reframed from smiling at her chose of words. “He actually said you were flawless. That is why I was teasing you.”

“I suppose he did not happen to mention I have only danced with him. I do not attend balls on a regular basis. Grams had us practice to refresh my memory, but other than that, nothing,” Brook said.

Quentin began to move with Brook. “Well you seem to be doing outstanding thus far.”

Brook was looking down at her feet. As she did, she stepped on Quentin’s right foot and then bumped her head into his when she looked down again.

“I am sorry,” Brook said.

“We agreed it would be my left foot, remember?” Quentin said. “Relax and allow me to guide you. It will not help if you keep staring at your own feet.”

Brook gazed up to Quentin and said, “I have forgotten all the steps. Perhaps it is better if you just escort me back to Grams and Sarah.”

“Nonsense you can do this,” Quentin said as he smiled at her.

Landon and Devon approached Sarah and Grams. Devon took a seat next to Sarah. He gave her a long kiss on the cheek and then whispered something in her ear, which caused her to blush.

“Where is Brook?”Landon asked.

“Dancing my dear boy with your friend Quentin,” Grams said and then giggled.

Landon looked towards the dance area to see Quentin trying to dance with Brook. “What are they doing?”

“I am not certain. Perhaps they are both attempting to lead,” Grams said.

The group and everyone else in the ton watched as Brook repeatedly stepped on Quentin’s feet and a few other peoples’ in close proximity.

Brook crashed into Lady Marcy Croft when Quentin said go to the right and Brook moved left. Lady Croft glared at her fiercely with disgust. Brook immediately offered an apology. Lady Croft did not respond. She just scowled at Brook.

Brook released her hand from Quentin’s and started to move towards Lady Croft.

Landon stepped in front of Brook’s path right as she was going to come face to face with Lady Croft.“Good evening Red.” Landon scooped up Brook’s hand and placed his other hand about her waist. “OK, here we go and one, two, three.” Landon gave Quentin the ok to leave.

Quentin smiled and left to join the others.

Brook and Landon finished the dance flawlessly. Neither of them spoke as they gazed into one another’s eyes. After the music had ceased, Brook went to leave the dance area.

Landon took a hold of her hand and pulled her back to him. “I believe I was cheated out of a dance, Red.”

Brook said nothing as the music began again. He drew her close to his body. She could not turn away from his gaze on her.

Landon gave Brook’s hand a small squeeze and he watched Brook’s lips part slightly. The rush of the memory of their kiss a month ago flooded his mind. He still remembered how soft her lips were. The taste of her mouth on his. Somehow, every time he thought of the kiss, it felt as though it had just happened. You are trouble wrapped up in a voluptuous fiery red package. I find myself wanting to get into trouble right now. Why do your eyes always say yes to me? It would be far more helpful if they offered some kind of resistance instead of agreeing with my every devilish thought. Landon did not move his gaze but he did clear his thought the best he could.

Quentin took a seat next to Grams on the chaise lounge. Grams patted his leg and said, “Do tell us where you have been hiding.”

“I have just returned from China. At present time, I am on leave for three months. I suppose you have all heard of my sister’s passing?” Quentin said.

Devon said, “We did and are truly sorry. Theresa will be missed. How is your mother holding up?”

“She is not dealing with it well. I was told the first two weeks she did not leave Theresa’s bedchamber,” Quentin said.

“Oh dear,” Sarah said.

Quentin looked to Grams and said, “I was also told you and Lady Wilcox were the ones to get her to immerge from it.” He took up Grams hand and kissed it. “I do not know how I will be able to repay you for your kind friendship to my mother.”

“My dear boy I care very deeply for your mother. She did the very same for me when I lost Roy, Devon’s father. As her and I had done the same when Clare, when Sarah’s mother passed,” Grams said.

“You had?” Sarah asked.

“Yes we did Sarah. I know Lady Wilcox is your Mother’s aunt, but she had raised her as a daughter,”Grams said.

“I never knew that,”Sarah said.

“Yes well enough sad stories. I shall like to invite everyone to my country estate next week,”Quentin said.

“My boy, we could all use a change of scenery. Who else is to attend?

The music ended and Landon held Brook in his embrace a several counts longer than needed. Brook let him and did not pull away. He finally slowly released her hand from his and felt Brook’s hand begin to slide out of his hand. Instinctively he squeezed her hand at the last second before it slipped away completely. Landon gently rubbed Brook’s finger tips with his. The dance area was now empty and all eyes were upon them. Lord knows how long they had been standing there like that. For them, time did not exist. A sudden high pitched shriek came from one of the violins. Landon blinked out of his trance as did Brook.

Brook felt a rush of air leave her lungs as Landon released her fingers. She didn’t want him to let go. The comfort of his embrace felt warm and right to her. She smiled up to him trying to hide her own thoughts from him as if he could read her mind. Which at times she believed he could. He always seemed to know what she was going to do or say before she did.

Landon smiled then bowed. “Shall we, Red?” He held out his arm in the direction of the group.

“I am not certain when you began to call me Red, but I do not care for it.”

As she walked past him, Landon said to her back, “But I do.” He could hear Brook’s soft giggle. Her tone was deep and seductive sounding. Flirtatious even.

“Hello Landon,” Marcy Croft said as she stepped in front of their path. She looked at Brook and said,“I was relieved to see you figured out which of your feet are left and right.”

Brook glared at Marcy with pure hate. “Yes, well your bottom seemed to occupy most of the space around me. It was hard to view my feet.”

Marcy threw her head back and gave Brook a mocking laugh.

“Please excuse us Lady Croft we have friends waiting for us,” Landon said.

“Oh, I see. Now it is Lady Croft?” Marcy said.

Landon took Brook by the arm and led her away from Marcy.

“What did she mean by that?” Brook asked.

“She is always jealous of new woman to the ton and does her best to intimidate them. Pay her no attention no matter what she says to you,” Landon said. Beats of sweat were forming on his forehead.

As they arrived at the group, Landon offered to get everyone a drink. Quentin stood and said he would assist him.

As they walked far enough away from the group Quentin said, “Brook is more amazing than you had led on. Irish tongue does not do her justice from the way you had described it.”

Landon laughed. “Yes well Brook is hard to describe with mere words.”

“If you were hoping we might hit it off, I have to be honest and tell you, she is too much to handle. As entertaining as she is, I would be tongue tied with her every statement. She is more your type than mine Landon.”

Landon stopped and said, “I do not believe she is. Brook is a friend Quentin.”

Quentin smiled and said, “I was only pointing out that-

“Well don’t because you are wrong,” Landon snapped at him. “I am going to get the punch now.”

“I will get the drinks from…the bar.” Before he had a chance to finish his sentence Landon had walked away.

While Landon poured the punch into the three cups, he felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned slightly to see who it was. Good God I wish you would find yourself kidnapped woman.

“So, do tell me Landon, are you in the habit of slumming now?” Marcy asked.

“Marcy why do you always have to be so unpleasant? It is as if you aim to be malicious every morning when your feet hit the floor.”

Marcy turned her head away from Landon and gazed out over the crowd. “Perhaps I am plain-spoken and blunt with my words.” She crossed her arms over her stomach. “It is what makes me who I am.”

“Cruel, unkind, and wretched is what makes you, you,” Landon said. He started to walk away from her.

Marcy hollered out a little too loud, “I propose your new friend does not know all about you Lord…Charming.”

Landon turned back and faced her. “I am sorry you are hurt but that gives you no right to hurt others around you. Stay away from her Marcy.”

“Why, because you don’t want her to know the truth about us?”

“And what truth might that be Marcy? The truth that being this close to you draws up feeling of repugnance or nausea?” Landon said in a hard whisper.

Marcy glared at him and narrowed her eyes.“The truth about the broken engagement and our baby Landon.”
© copyright 2012

Back to Chapter 1    

Carry on to Chapter 3

Chapter 4 Coming Next Monday