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