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How insulting that the one time she’d managed to attract his attention, she was dressed as a lady of ill repute. She knew her costume was just as scandalous as those of the other ladies. She’d wanted to blend in. The décolletage of the harem top and pants ensemble was lower than she’d ever worn, plus it left her midriff on display. The splits in her Turkish harem pants exposed flesh very few had ever seen.
Heat prickled over her skin as his eyes caressed and explored, inspecting the merchandise. The distance offered no protection. His penetrating stare stirred her senses. Want, need, and desire surged in her blood. His lean, chiseled features broke into a come-kiss-me smile, the look arrogant and knowing, as if no woman ever denied him anything. The handsome viscount commanded attention and was conceited enough to expect to be obeyed.
The effect of his smile caused her to her lose her breath and her courage. Reflexes screamed for her to flee, and she had the sudden urge to hide.
“Oh, look. He’s coming this way. Bosoms out, ladies.”
One of the courtesans sighed. “I know our code, but I could lose my heart to a man such as Lord Blackwood.”
“Don’t be daft. These arrogant aristocrats have no hearts. Lord Blackwood may be a magnificent lover, but he’s not interested in love, especially with the likes of us. Remember the tales? His last mistress was stupid enough to fall in love with him, and he left faster than he can get you to drop your pantaloons.”
Their words hardly surprised her. Grayson was no different from any of the other wealthy lords she knew. Women had a place in their beds, either for pleasure or to provide an heir. Both positions rarely involved the heart.
To her horror, she noted the men were almost upon them. Move. Her feet would not obey her command. He prowled closer, his smile growing more knowing as she stood still like an obedient puppy waiting desperately to be patted. Thank goodness she wore a mask.
Attending this ball had been a terrible idea.
Portia managed to tear her eyes from his hypnotic stare and back away. Turning quickly, she slipped through the frolicking throng and after several minutes found herself in one of the many side corridors, shutting the door firmly behind her. She closed her eyes and leaned back against the cool wood panels trying to catch her breath. It was beating so fast, as if she were a frightened canary. That was too close for comfort.
She needed a place to hide until it was safe for her to slip away for home without her brother or Grayson being any the wiser. She was sure it would not be long before the men were otherwise engaged. Portia rubbed her chest again. Images of Grayson with those women would not leave her in peace. They heightened the throbbing at her temples. She would not cry. She had only herself to blame for being in this pickle.
Suddenly the door she’d just swept through opened and a man stepped into the corridor, closing the door quietly behind him. A fresh hint of ginger and sandalwood scent caused her to flare her nostrils. She knew without looking who it was.
“What the blazes do you think you’re doing here?” Portia winced at the familiar sound of Grayson’s voice.
Page Count: 260 pages
Publisher: Loveswept (March 24, 2015)
In the latest Disgraced Lords novel from USA Today bestselling author Bronwen Evans, a vivacious thrill seeker clashes with her dutiful defender—causing irresistible sparks to fly.
Independent and high-spirited, Lady Portia Flagstaff has never been afraid to take a risk, especially if it involves excitement and danger. But this time, being kidnapped and sold into an Arab harem is the outcome of one risk too many. Now, in order to regain her freedom, she has to rely on the deliciously packaged Grayson Devlin, Viscount Blackwood, a man who despises her reckless ways—and stirs in her a thirst for passion.
After losing his mother and two siblings in a carriage accident years ago, Grayson Devlin promised Portia’s dying brother that he’d always watch over his wayward sister. But having to travel to Egypt to rescue the foolhardy girl has made his blood boil. Grayson already has his hands full trying to clear his best friend and fellow Libertine Scholar of a crime he didn’t commit. Worse still, his dashing rescue has unleashed an unforeseen and undesired consequence: marriage. Now it’s more than Portia he has to protect . . . it’s his battered heart.
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