Christian smoothed his cuffs as he made his way into the ballroom, pausing to ask the first male he encountered as to Lady Elizabeth’s whereabouts. As Christian anticipated, the fool knew exactly where she was to be found.
Lady Elizabeth stood halfway between the refreshment table and the terrace doors, surprisingly unfettered by suitors. Christian’s gaze narrowed on her as he drew closer. From behind, her form hinted at the loveliness Christian’s bloody groom had suggested; a vision of golden hair and sensual curves gowned in blue silk and cream lace. Her figure was delicate and well-rounded; her hair piled upon her head in delicious, thick, golden curls.
It was a pity such a beauty was so closely related to his enemy, as she would have been worth a chase on her own merits. But life was never fair.
As he neared, Lady Elizabeth laughed at something her companion said. He slowed a bit, his gaze narrowing as he attempted to read her gestures, movements. From his years estimating who would be a good mark and who would not, Christian had developed the ability to ascertain a few things from the way people moved, the way they spoke, how they gestured.
Lady Elizabeth was not as demure as one might expect. There was something very sensual about her posture, the way she threw back her head when she laughed, the manner in which she flicked her hand as if impatient with life.
She was a woman who craved something more. He recognized that aspect of her character at once, and to his chagrin, something deep within him responded in kind.
Christian’s gaze narrowed. She was not what he had expected at all. His spies had informed him that she was bookish, not given to any sort of lively pursuits other than riding about the estate and being her grandfather’s sole companion. He’d originally thought she would be a shy, retiring sort of woman who had dutifully given up her youth to keep her elderly relative company. Such a self-deprecating martyr would be an easy woman to charm.
It had not occurred to Christian that she might also be beautiful, sensual and vivacious.
Whatever she was, she was now within arm’s length. He waited for a pause in the conversation, then at first opportunity said in a low voice, “May I have this dance?”
Lady Elizabeth turned, her gown fluttering about her, her startled gaze lifted to his. It was then that it happened; a jolt of pure, animal attraction hit Christian so hard, his heart leaped in his chest.
He could only stare. As he’s been told, she was beautiful, but thing had prepared him for the reality of that beauty, of the smoldering passion that lit her large, brown eyes, of the tempting curve of her plump lips, of the sensual line of her cheek and throat. She was passion and pureness, temptation and desire, acumen and sensuality, all wrapped into one. As if she knew his thoughts, her lips framed into an entrancingly rich pout, one he instantly wished to kiss away.
Christian had to force himself not to reach out and yank her to him right there in the center of the ballroom. It was then that the truth hit him: he’s met the one woman he could never touch. Never give in to. Never admit into his life or his heart. The mysterious Lady Elizabeth was the granddaughter of Christian’s most hated enemy, and he was not about to forget, no matter how his traitorous body answered to her mere presence.