You can find Jennifer in Southern California trying to talk her husband into yet another trip to England, helping her three children with homework while brainstorming a new five-minute dinner menu, or crouched in a corner of the local bookstore writing her next novel.
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In fact, though she had learned how to waltz, she had never officially danced one during her Season because waltzes were considered highly improper for young ladies.
“The waltz is my favorite dance,” he told her.
“Why is that?” she asked, thinking that if he was to keep holding her like this the whole way through, it might just become her favorite dance, too.
It felt like the air in the room—already thin and difficult to breathe—was sucked away. For a moment, she felt light-headed, unable to speak. Then she managed, “But don’t you dance the other dances as well?”
“Yes, when it is necessary for me to do so.”
“Why, if you don’t like them?”
“Because it is expected. I have made a study of societal expectations. The study has allowed me to become quite skilled at meeting them, Persephone.”
And with that, the waltz began. It was a lively dance, and Mr. Bull took full advantage, his steps bold, his turns wide, causing her pleats to stretch open and her skirt to billow around her.
She held on tight and let him take her on the ride. She didn’t think about the steps—she didn’t need to. She learned quickly that she must allow her feet to move as they would, and as long as she did so, they fell into a natural, perfect synchronicity.
He squeezed her hand very tight for a moment. “You have the sweetest laugh I’ve ever heard,” he said, gazing down at her.
Still smiling, she looked into his eyes as he spun her around yet again. “Thank you.”
“I believe you enjoy waltzing with me, Persephone.”
“I have not enjoyed anything so much in a very long time,” she admitted. “I wish…”They danced around a group of couples, steering clear of a flurry of colorful skirts.
“What do you wish?” he asked, his voice low.
“I fear this might be our only opportunity to dance a waltz,” she said. “And I wish that wasn’t the case.”
“I hope it isn’t the case,” he said.
“But it must be. Because I fear Persephone’s time here is limited.”
“My time is limited.” She gazed at him straight on. “But I intend to enjoy every second while it lasts.”
This time, his lips were easier to read, his smile slow and seductive, and his eyes narrowing the slightest bit through the sockets of the mask.
“And I intend to enjoy every moment with you.”
She felt so free. Spinning, turning, waltzing, a handsome man holding her as if she were his most cherished possession, her dress a cloud of blue linen around her, her heart soaring. Tonight, after living so long a prisoner, she was breaking free of the cage Fenwicke had built around her.
For the first time since long before his death two years ago, she felt free.
And until a person has been a prisoner, they never understand how truly sweet freedom can be.
Excerpt from ONE NIGHT WITH AN EARL ©2014 by Jennifer Haymore. All rights reserved.
Length: 127 pages
Publisher: Forever Yours (April 1, 2014)
Beatrice Reece, Lady Fenwick, has retired from polite society. Everyone knows her late husband treated her abominably, and she simply cannot bear the whispers of the ton. But it's the night of London's premier masquerade ball-and Beatrice's one chance to revel in anonymity. She hopes no one will recognize her beneath her mask, not even the sinfully sexy stranger across the room who holds her captive in his gaze . . .
Andrew Sinclair would know beautiful Beatrice anywhere from the gentle sway of her hips, the richness of her hair, and the lushness of her body. When he asks her to dance, the attraction is instant and all-consuming. The only woman he's ever truly wanted is finally in his arms. But when the clock strikes twelve, will this one reckless night fade into the morning light?
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