Is he real, or is he a ghost?
Excerpt from Chapter One:
Uncertain if she were dreaming or haunted, she gaped at the animated figures. Wait. There. Him.
Her attention riveted on one young man in the gathering. He’d spun by earlier. She’d swear he gazed over his shoulder in her direction, then promenaded up the hall. His expert steps returned him again to the entryway. Unlike the other dancers, he was fully corporeal. No partially seen legs or torso. Fitted blue breeches and silk stockings encased his long muscular legs. He wore his own chestnut brown hair pulled back in a queue at his neck, free of powder, while most male heads were wigged and white. The deep blue suit tailored to his tall figure complemented his deft steps in the English country dance.
Something about him held her spellbound…the tilt of his head, arch of his brow, glimpse of his profile… She followed his every move with the fixity of an owl.
He turned blue-gray eyes toward her and sensuous lips curved into a smile on his handsome face.
He circled closer to where she stood rooted in the foyer, not moving a toe, scarcely drawing breath.
Did he truly see her backed tremulously against the wall, or did it only feel that way?
Unlike the others in the ghostly assembly, his eyes didn’t skirt past her. He paused in the dance. Bending at the shoulders, he tipped his hand to her in a genteel flourish.
He’d freakin’ bowed. Her jaw dropped. He most definitely saw her. And she sure as heck saw him. A sparking sizzle jumped between them, awakening her as she’d never been roused before. Even more than when the house charged through her at her arrival. It was as if she were plugged in—to him.
How that could be, she had no idea, but when he gazed into her eyes, time seemed to stop. She spiraled into moonless stars, and back again to this dizzying realm. To him. Even if she were dreaming, she’d never forget this moment.
“Dance with me.” He beckoned to her.
“I don’t know how.” She forced the panted reply past the tightness in her throat.
He shook his head. “Nae, lady. You are grace itself.”
Gallant of him to say. “Clearly, you’ve never seen me play tennis.”
Humor flickered in his eyes and touched his mouth. “I should like to.” A look of urgency displaced the fleeting mirth. “Wait. Stay a moment,” he entreated.
Was she fading into dreamland, or was he?
Freeing himself from the others, he dashed to her and slipped something into her hand. “Keep this.” His voice a whisper in her ear. “I’ve been waiting for you.”
She eyed him incredulously. “But how—”
“Did I know you would be here?” he finished for her, melting tenderness in his gaze. “Because we have been here before.” He gestured at the doorway. “Danced through the foyer and into the garden.”
He answered by cupping his hands to her face and pressing his warm lips to hers in a brief, but impassioned kiss. Any remaining breath she had was forfeited to him.
“Until we meet again, sweet lady.” He swept her a bow and was gone, and the others with him, like the mist vanishing in the sun streaming through the windows.
She stared after him, or the place he’d been, with her lips slightly parted. There were no words, only her wildly beating heart.
She shook her head to clear it, almost expecting the party—and him—to reappear. No. She was alone in the foyer. It was a dream. He was, too. Had to be. The most vivid, never-to-be-forgotten, dream ever. But she was awake, and when she glanced at her hand, she still held the scrap of paper.
Unfolding it, she mouthed, Wait for me, a simple request inked in penmanship that reflected the bold spirit of the young man who’d given it to her.
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“Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity.” ~Henry Van Dyke