Eve walked quickly down the hallway, trembling like the flickering candles in the sconces. Had the corridor been candle-lit when she went to meet Sebastian for dinner? Surely it must have been, and she had simply not noticed.
She was a sensible, modern, scientific woman. The idea that she might be traveling through time, encountering Sebastian’s distant ancestors in the rooms she’d stumbled into was simply absurd. Something in the wine she’d consumed at dinner had mingled with the scent of candle wax, herbs and fireplace smoke to addle her senses.
She saw a stairway looming ahead and her pulses leapt. This must lead back to Great Hall, back to normalcy and Sebastian. How she longed for his kiss to blot out the memory of those impossible encounters, for the thrilling heat of his possessive arm wrapped around her, reassuring her she was firmly rooted in the present, and the only man with a claim upon her was him!
Approaching the stairway at a rapid a pace, she suddenly realized a man was mounting the stairs, coming toward her. A snowy white tie showed above his black dinner jacket and his jet black hair gleamed in the candlelight, which outlined against the darkness a dear familiar profile. Her heart contracted with joy and relief.
‘Sebastian!’ she cried, hurrying toward him. ‘I’m so sorry to have been absent so long! Silly me, I’m afraid I got lost . Thank you for coming to find me!’
In her haste to reach him, Eve caught the heel of her stiletto on the carpet and nearly fell. Strong arms reached out to catch her, their grip familiar, reassuring. Frantic, needy, she wrapped her arms around him and lifted her head, inviting his kiss.
Instantly, Sebastian crushed her against him and took her mouth, his kiss ferociously possessive. Hot need coursing through her, she opened to him.
Maybe it wasn’t too late to return to her room, she thought muzzily. She’d give herself up to the pleasure he offered, reassure herself she was with the man she wanted. The man who loved her.
He brought his mouth to her bare shoulders, and Eve sighed, intoxicated by his touch. ‘Here I’d thought you were just a myth,’ he murmured against her skin. ‘I’m thrilled to be proven wrong, my delectable Lady in Green.’
As the meaning of his words penetrated her sensual haze, Eve’s eyes flew open. ‘Sebastian?’ she gasped. To her dismay, she realized that below the familiar face and blazing blue eyes, the white tie she’d seen peeking out above the collar of the black dinner jacket wasn’t a tie at all—but the beginning folds of an intricately-tied cravat. Sleek dark hair waved over his forehead in what Eve recognized, having studied hundreds of Regency portraits, to be a perfect Brutus cut.
Panicked, she pushed him away. ‘You’re not my Sebastian!’
The gentleman gave her a beguiling smile that must have disarmed many a maiden of her virtue. ‘I’d like to be. I never expected to encounter you, but now, I hope never to let you go.’
‘But you must!’ she wailed. How could she make him understand something she didn’t understand herself? ‘I …don’t belong here.’
‘You could,’ he coaxed. ‘Let me make you want to.’ He caught her hand, and the power of his touch zinged through her. ‘Do you not feel it, the force that pulses between us? I didn’t believe in love at first sight, but you make me believe it. Never putting any credence in the legend of the Lady in Green, how could I imagine someone invited to my mother’s ball would be the breath-taking image of that famous lady? Give me your hand and let me lead you in. Though I don’t yet know your name, I know I want you by my side.’
‘No, it’s too soon. Or too l-late,’ Eve stammered. ‘You aren’t the right man. You cannot be!’
More frantic than ever, Eve tore herself from his grasp and ran down the stairs.
Julia Justiss is happy to announce the first book of her Ransleigh Rogues series, the story of four cousins, best friends through childhood and university, whose destinies are forever altered by war and the love of one remarkable woman.
March's THE RAKE TO RUIN HER features "Magnificent Max," earl's son and leader of the Rogues, whose dreams of a brilliant government career are ruined by betrayal at the Congress of Vienna. But heiress Caroline Denby, who wishes to avoid marriage, is delighted to encounter the disgraced Max at a houseparty. Why not, she proposes, put his bad reputation to good use by ruining hers?