Title: How to Silence a Rogue
Series: The Forsaken Lords Series
Author: Kristin Vayden
Genre: Regency Romance
Publisher: Blue Tulip Publishing
Miss Maria Garten had one more season till she was firmly on the shelf.
It was her only chance, because while some ladies could pretend or sincerely be at peace with the life of a spinster.
She was not among their ranks.
Taking a deep breath, she reminded herself once more to think before she spoke. It shouldn’t be difficult.
Except that it was, for her at least.
Because the only thing more certain than her potential future as a spinster was that Mr. Sheppard was a confirmed bachelor.
A rake of the first order.
Not the kind that would ruin an innocent, but the kind that would charm them, seduce her with his charming words, make her fall in love with the legendary smile and easy manner that was as easy as breathing.
And then he’d walk away to find a new distraction.
Utterly unaware that he had broken a few hearts in the process.
Maria refused to be counted among them.
She needed a husband, not a distraction.
After all, friendship was far less complicated.
**This is the second book in The Forsaken Lords Series. A series of interconnected standalones**
“I’ve always loved a gentleman in a black coat.” Maria flirted.
He turned, his heart slamming against his chest at her words. While he knew they were on friendly enough terms for her to joke with him, it affected him differently. For her to say such a thing meant that she did find him attractive.
Damn it all, he was reading into everything like a woman.
“And I do love a debutant in a…” Curtis paused, taking in her gown, drinking her in. “Good Lord, Maria,” he murmured hoarsely, swallowing hard and immediately berating himself for being so careless with his words. He cleared his throat and forced a charming grin. “You’re lovely! Quite angelic, if I say so myself… even if I know better.”
“Thank you, I think.” She grinned wryly. Her gaze shifted to the room, scanning it thoughtfully.
“Looking for someone?” Curits asked, deftly angling toward her, moving in closer.
“Yes. You know I am, thank you kindly,” she answered, not even turning slightly to address his question.
“Have you had any more… contact?” he asked, knowing full well she had.
“Maybe, maybe not.” She shrugged.
“Oh, is that how you’re going to play it, minx? Confide in me and then leave me out in the dark?” he joked, using her distraction as the prime opportunity to scan her features, catalogue them in that devastatingly beautiful gown. His mouth grew dry as he noted the way the braided cord accentuated the swell of her perfect breasts, while draping with the barest of hints over her round derriere. Dear Lord, she was killing him without a weapon.
“Very well, you have a point. It’s not very sporting of me to keep you in the dark when you’ve been nothing but supportive.” Maria gave a small sigh. “He said that I’ll dance with him tonight.” She turned, her gaze alive with delight, practically overwhelming him with a humbling elation.
She was this excited about him… only she didn’t know it was him.
Would she be so thrilled if she knew?
The thought was sobering, and he cleared his throat before responding. “Ah, so some of the mystery will be solved then!”
“Yes! Of course, no one has asked me to dance yet, but… maybe he hasn’t arrived.” She gave him a slightly worried look, her dark-winged brows drawing together slightly.
“Well, just because he’s not made his move doesn’t mean you have to be a wallflower. Let’s take the next dance and give him something to be jealous over, don’t you think?” He leaned in closely, inhaling softly the scent of rosewater clinging to her shoulder as he paused just above it.
She sighed and turned then paused. Her green eyes wide, she blinked at his proximity before blushing as he gave her a wink and offered his hand.
“You’re wounding my ego,” he said as he wiggled his still-empty hand, his heart pounding hard at the thought of her rejection.
“Sorry, yes, of c-course.” She seemed to collect herself and placed her hand in his.
How could holding a woman’s hand be so sensual? Yet, as his grip tightened slightly over hers, his body responded. He forced his thoughts away from the path they tried to take, one that led to visions of that very same dress pooled in a heap on his bedroom floor. “How are the tulips?” he asked, forcing his thoughts into line.
“Alive. How chivalrous of you to care.” She arched a brow at him, grinning.
“That’s me. What can I say? I care about children, small animals, and tulips. I’m a regular saint.” He chuckled as they meandered through the room toward the dancing floor.
Maria stifled a giggle.
“Mocking me?” Curtis asked.
“Never.” Her eyes were a mask of innocence, an expression that at once had him narrowing his eyes.
“And a lady such as yourself would never stoop to use sarcasm,” he answered with a hint of sarcasm and a grin.
“Indeed. Never,” she replied haughtily then proceeded to giggle. “Never!” she repeated with exaggeration.
Curtis chuckled, taking pleasure in the way her grin lit up her countenance, enchanting him. Yet as his gaze left her face, he noticed the regard of several other gentlemen as well, watching her thoughtfully.
“Shall we?” He led her out to the floor to the beginning of the quadrille. As they performed the steps and spun around, he grinned at the way she danced with graceful abandon. While her steps were perfectly executed, a lively nature reflected the wit and humor she possessed. How had he missed that before? As she gave him playful grins, he found himself lost in the merriment of the moment. Was this what he had been afraid to face? Had he truly felt that a life of lonely bachelorhood could compare to this carefree joy?
The song ended all too soon, and before they exited the floor, Lord Huffton approached, asking Maria for a dance. She obliged, and as they turned to the dance floor, she glanced back, giving Curtis a wide-eyed grin full of implication.
Damn it all, for the rest of the night she’d think each partner could potentially be her admirer. She’d laugh, flirt, and beam those beautiful smiles in their direction.
While he watched.
And bloody hell, he had no one to blame for it but himself.
Kristin’s inspiration for the romance she writes comes from her tall, dark and handsome husband with killer blue eyes. With five children to chase, she is never at a loss for someone to kiss, something to cook or some mess to clean but she loves every moment of it! Life is full—of blessings and adventure! Needless to say she’s a big fan of coffee and wine…and living in Washington she’s within walking distance of both! Follow her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/kristinvaydenauthor) And Instagram @kristinkatjoyce and Twitter @KristinVayden! You can also sign up for her newsletter at http://eepurl.com/795f9.
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