“I heard that my friend managed to give you a small amount of assistance that night Miss Collins. I hope you are feeling well this evening?” John asked Annabelle quietly, dropping his voice to make sure that no other person on the balcony could hear him.
Annabelle blushed deeply but instead of avoiding the topic, her gaze held firmly to John’s face and her eyes flashed with something strange.
“He did indeed sir,” Annabelle rushed in before Colin could say anything, lifting her chin a fraction.
“Although, it was no small thing. Without Colin there that night, I’m afraid I would have been packed and on my way back to Somerset today from the horror of it all.” Annabelle lifted her chin again in a defiant manner and Colin could do nothing but stare at her. She was not afraid to thank him publically for his rescue and she was so incredibly when she was defending him.
“Colin?” John asked, one eyebrow raised in the air at his friend. Colin silently cursed, he never had given Annabelle his surname and she certainly didn’t know his title. Trust John to notice the use of his given name. They both knew that most people called him ‘His Grace’. No one except his mother and a few select friends called him Colin.
“Oh, I’m so sorry.” Annabelle apologised, realising her error. She turned to Colin and lay a hand on his arm in an intimate gesture that neither Victoria or John missed. Colin grimaced, he had known he was going to regret joining her on the balcony.
“I don’t know what else to refer to you as.” Annabelle said, turning wide eyes to him.
Victoria and John both burst out laughing.
Annabelle looked back at them quickly, startled.
Colin glared at them, they must have thought it an amazing joke. They had found the only woman in London who didn’t know every detail about him down to his shoe size.
“May I present His Grace, the Duke of Lincoln, Colin Lyre.” John announced to Annabelle with another bow and a great flourish of his right hand.
Annabelle pulled back her hand from his jacket sleeve so quickly it was painful. She took a step back from him with a wounded look in her huge violet eyes.
“I thought...you said...ah... oh my,” Annabelle stuttered stumbling back towards the ballroom and without even a backwards glance, she picked up her skirts and ran from the balcony.