Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Naked King--chapter 2, 4th "bite"

Chapter 2 (cont.)

“No. I mean I didn’t.” Lady Anne’s complexion got even redder. “That is, he kissed me.”

The silence that followed this announcement was deafening.

“So the beast forced himself on you?” Miss Strange choked on the words. Two pairs of feminine eyes--Lady Anne had the grace to examine the floor at her feet--swiveled toward him.

“Er...” If he remembered correctly Lady Anne had been a very willing participant in that kiss. Surely he remembered correctly? He wasn’t that drunk--he’d never been so drunk as to take liberties with an unwilling woman.

“No, of course he didn’t force himself on me, Cousin,” Lady Anne said, her cheeks still bright red. “Don’t be ridiculous.”

Miss Strange patted Anne on the shoulder. “There, there. No need to be embarrassed. It’s not your fault.” She glared at him. “Everyone knows men are all too often driven by their baser instincts.”

Anne stepped away from her cousin’s touch. “You sound like the worst horrid novel, Clorinda. Mr. Parker-Roth did not attack me.” She shrugged one shoulder, looking most uncomfortable, but compelled by honor to tell the truth. “He may have initiated the encounter, but I didn’t exactly struggle.”

Not exactly. He bit back a smile. Not at all.

He cleared his throat, bringing the ladies’ attention back to him. He couldn’t let Anne dig herself deeper into a hole. A hole? Ha. He felt parson’s mousetrap yawning before him like a bottomless abyss, but there was no way to avoid it now; they might as well step in with as much grace as they could.

“Of course you weren’t struggling, dear heart.” Three jaws dropped at the endearment. “Why would you?” He moved to take her hand in both of his before turning to the other women. “My apologies, ladies, for letting passion rule my better judgment, but I’m afraid it’s been so long since I’ve seen my betrothed, I couldn’t contain my happiness.”

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