A Kiss For Charity
Love heals all wounds but will their pride keep them apart?
Young widow, Grace, Lady de Courtenay, is more concerned with improving her mind than finding another husband. But how was she to know that a close encounter with a rake at a masquerade ball would spark her interest and make her yearn for love again?
Lord Nicholas Lacey has been on his own for far too long after losing his wife in a tragic accident. After a rare trip to a masquerade, his attention is captivated by a lovely young woman. Considering the dubious company she keeps, perhaps she might be interested in becoming his mistress.
From the darkened paths of Vauxhall Gardens to a countryside estate called Hollystone Hall, Nicholas and Grace must set aside their differences in order to let love into their hearts. It will take more than a dose of holiday cheer to see these two on the road to finding their happily-ever-after and a kiss for charity may just be what they both need.
Arms of steel wrapped around her waist to prevent her downward pitch. Her rescuer’s cape whirled around their bodies as though the cloak itself would conceal them from the night and those around them. Fathomless dark eyes were all but hidden in the black mask that concealed his features, yet, a flicker from the walkway lanterns hinted at their color. His eyes were brown, much like his hair, she surmised, if the curls that formed around the edges of his hat and mask were any indication.
Grace gasped as he quickly maneuvered her off the pathway to save them from being run over by the eagerness of the crowd. She shivered, but not from the cold for she was far from chilled. No. She quivered from the warmth that raced up and down her spine at being this close to a man, let alone held intimately for the first time in many years.
“Are you hurt, my lady?”
His deep voice went straight to her heart. His low tone plummeted down to reach into the very depths of her soul to awaken a part of her that had been left dormant as though she had been waiting for him her entire life. Waiting… yes she had been waiting for someone to come along who would give her this sudden feeling of completeness, even though he was a total stranger.
The realization of what she was doing hit her as if a bucket of icy water had been thrown over the top of her head. He was asking her something, but her brain could not wrap itself around what he had inquired.
“Pardon me?” she asked in a breathy whisper of astonishment, especially when she realized she had been caressing the lapel of his jacket beneath his cloak.
His arm tightened around her. She watched in mild fascination as one side of his mouth turned up in a cocky grin. He knew exactly how her body was reacting to their close proximity.
“I asked if you were hurt, although I might also beg for an introduction.”
“I h-hardly think this en-encounter is a-appropriate,” Grace stammered. Was that actually her voice sounding so unsure of herself?
He leaned down, and, for an instant, she thought he was about to kiss her.
“How utterly charming that I have you all tongued-tied.” His words whispered gently in her ear were almost her undoing.
Before she could comment, Moriah’s voice was heard above the noise of the crowd, and she quickly untangled herself from the man who did nothing to hide his disappointment.
“There you are,” Moriah declared as she stared up at the stranger. Grace could only imagine what was going on inside her friend’s mind, given their recent conversation. “I am sorry I lost you. Are you all right?”
Grace nodded. “Yes… of course. Thank you, sir, for your assistance this evening,” she murmured shyly to the gentleman whose lips turned up into a charming grin.
He raised his fingers to tip his hat towards her. “It was my pleasure to rescue a fair damsel in distress.”
Her eyes followed him through the crowd until he disappeared. Her heart hammered in her chest. What in the world had just happened?