A glass of red wine balanced in one hand, the stem dangling between his fingers, he joined anothergroup of guests, fulfilling his duty. He trusted no one here.
God, this was his life now, duty and falsehood. He missed Egypt, he missed adventure and peace and simplicity. He was already bored with people’s endless supplication. Everyone seemed to want something from him. They sought to attach themselves to either his wealth or his power.
His grandfather had warned of this.
John had had enough. He was seeking his family to escape it for a little while, and looking for Mary particularly. He knew his vibrant sister would bring him back from the cold darkness crowding in on him.
He’d passed his mother and Edward in the hall, they’d been speaking with Richard and Penny, they’d directed him in here.
His gaze swept about the room then stopped.
There was a young woman standing amidst his family, like a blonde beacon of light amongst his dark- haired black-clad cousins. She was an angel in a pale mauve dress.
Lust gripped had and firm in his stomach, an intense physical attraction. He’d never experienced anything so instant before. But it was a long time since he’d bedded a woman – far too long.
Her figure was a sublime balance of curves and narrow waist. Her spine had a beautiful arch as it curved into the point where her dress opened onto a full skirt.
Wheat-blonde hair escaped a dull dove-grey bonnet, caressing her neck and drawing his eyes to a place he’d like to kiss.
She was speaking with animation her hands moving.
He moved closer and as if she sensed his gaze the stranger turned and looked at him. In answer a lightning need struck his groin, a sharp sudden pain. She was an English Rose among orchids, the sort of woman he had seen nothing of abroad. Her skin was pale, with roses blooming in her cheeks, and her eyes were a vivid beautiful blue, like the bluebells which bloomed in spring, in the woods at Pembroke Place.
She was what he had longed for abroad and not even known he’d been lacking.
His attention wholly captured, desire slipped into his blood as his groin grew heavy with hunger.
This was what came from abstinence he supposed. He’d never had a fancy for fair, fay women before. He did now.
She did not look the sort for a fling though, certainly not the she-wolf type who stalked the foreign
fields. His mind began rattling through his guest list, but no name fit her, and her dull grey bonnet and shawl did not speak of affluence. Who was she?
He smiled as he grew nearer, then realised he was staring and shifted his gaze to the others in the group. It was then he noticed Phillip as they turned to towards him. “My God.”
“Phillip.” Lord, John hoped Phillip had not come here with a motive. John did not wish to hear oily grovelling from an old friend. His heart thumped in cold anger, not gladness. Then he looked at the blonde and his breath caught as recognition whispered in his head. Kate.