Shall we celebrate by sharing an excerpt for the next book? The Ruined Marquis.
Yes... Meet Archie.
“You stupid, ignorant...” As Victoria started to wind herself up into a full blown attack, Archie gathered his courage and stepped into the line of fire.
“Lady Dunford,” Archie said loudly, stepping in front of Colin and bowing to her. “May I have the honour of this dance?”
Victoria shut her mouth and eyed Archie with disdain. Archie made sure his body language left her no room for argument and he stood in a way that completely blocked Colin from her line of sight.
“Of course my lord,” she managed, her eyes flashing daggers at Colin even while Archie led her away.
Archie felt her hand on his arm like she was holding a burning flame to his coat. He had avoided dancing with her since her come out ball and this was why. He had always hoped that his reaction to her would decrease, hoped his body would learn not be so sensitive to her, but it had never happened. Archie pulled Victoria gently into a waltz position, (it had to be a waltz, bloody bad luck he had) and started moving her expertly around the room. Neither of them had spoken yet but her eyes told him volumes. Victoria had now divided her anger and Archie wasn’t sure if he fared worse or better than Colin.
“Go on, I know you want to,” Archie encouraged, schooling his face into his normal mask of politeness. He had thought that after a decade of pulling this face it would be second nature and no longer feel like a mask. But when he was with her, every feeling was intensified to the point of being almost painful.
“I have nothing to say.”
Archie bit back a smile. Victoria never addressed him, never had. He found it quite funny. He had no title so she couldn’t refer to him as that. He had never given her leave to call him Archie, and yet having been around her brother for most of her life she could really call him anything she wanted. And yet Victoria didn’t, she avoided referring to him at all, and if she was really pressed she occasionally called him ‘my lord’, with a wry twist to her lips. Victoria had a glass face, Archie could see every thought, every feeling there. At the moment though it didn’t take a person familiar with Victoria to see what she was feeling, it was there for the whole world to see. She was very angry.
“Lady Dunford,” Archie began and heard her hiss at him through her clenched teeth.
He had always referred to her as Lady Dunford, partly because it was her title, due her because of her fortunate birth but also partly because it annoyed her. For the first time since Archie had met Victoria, he didn’t ignore her glare or her hissing at him.
“Well, what would you like me to call you?” He snapped, letting some of his annoyance slip into his voice. Victoria’s lips parted in shock and her eyes widened measurably. Archie didn’t know if it was due to the tone in his voice or from his wording, but he couldn’t call the words back now.
Victoria opened her mouth to reply, then shut it again.
Archie waited, he danced them around the room and he waited some more. Victoria looked too beautiful when she was shocked. Her too full lips parted slightly and her bluer that blue eyes giving him a look like she was trying to read him. He knew she wouldn’t see anything on his face but it never stopped her from looking.
“Victoria,” she answered finally, her eyes wary.