Beginnings Are Always Simple...
London, England 1834
Brightly lit and lovely, the ballroom was undeniably cheerful. But Kurikus’ Warrick was anything but. Face written in wrath.
Twinkling crystal chandeliers tossed light over the girl’s porcelain features.
Sarasae Farthiway. A ruby on the dancefloor. He moved the border of the ballroom striding the marbled floor and weaving behind shimmering gold pillars. Gaze intense on the lovely creature.
A creature I want to possess.
High cheekbones arrowed to a crimson mouth contrasting with the lush emerald of her gown. Rich burgundy hair flowed around her shoulders more freely than custom allowed.
Like rich wine.
Sparkling shades shined across her body.
She glitters like precious stone. She made him hungry. Starved.
Undeniably beautiful, this woman that murdered my friend. After following her for months, Kurikus knew enough to be amazed her sister had persuaded her to wear the dress at all.
As Sarasae glided the elaborate marbled floor, his eyes followed her every move.
Parting her lips in a smile, made her face change and lent her eyes an unearthen shine. Cheeks reddening with delight, she laughed. Staring up at the man carefully moving in step with her.
Who is he? Kurikus wondered. Does she know him?
The stranger’s hands folding around hers to dance, made Kurikus growl low in his throat. Outside clouds stirred across the sky in response to the hunger tightening his belly. Dancing candle flames flicked out rousing gasps before they bloomed to life again.
A generous display of her characteristically rare smiles made her mesmerizing tonight.
His blue eyes darkened to gray as he watched her. Torn between vengeance and lust. Do I want to seduce her or strangle her?
Quite the dilemma.
Giggling accompanied by a nudge on his arm drew his attention to the little brunette next to him. Unwanted company. He’d forgotten she was there.
“Kurik are you ignoring me tonight? You’re being quite…inattentive.” She whined.
I was. Until you interrupted me.
An indulging smile assuaged her wounded pride. “Alecia I’m far too simple a man to resist your charms.” His eyes fell on the prominent display of cleavage peering above her gown.
Trying to hard to gain my attention, to be intriguing.
Lifting a skeptical brow, she murmured. “I fear nothing about you is simple, My Lord.”
Chuckling vaguely his attention already returned to his prey. He absentmindedly twirled the wine in the glass loosely gripped between long fingers.
As Sarasae’s partner turned her free, she made her way to the chair against the wall.
Crossing the room, he intercepted her.
Black boots and breeches stepped into her lowered gaze, Sarasae’s eyes lifted and she made a startled sound. Kurik’s breath hitched at the affect those vivid green eyes had beneath the light.
Lips curving into a beguiling grin he extended his hand. “May I?”
Flushing, she looked taken aback as she glanced around the room. “My card is full and we’ve not been properly introduced.” Her tone was scathing.
At my rudeness, no doubt.
Brows lifting minutely, he commented. “Haven’t we? I’d not mistake a face like yours. Miss…Farthiway, I believe.”
Though a minute ago he’d have sworn it wasn’t possible, she now looked even more surprised.
Oh yes, Little Prey, I know your name.
“Ah, but I never mistake a face. And I’ve not seen yours.” Features changing, her eyes narrowed on him. Blatantly considering declaring his deception.
She thinks to expose me. Out here on the dancefloor.
Another quick look around the room revealed several conversations had stopped as people stared at them. Still holding his hand out with an innocently questioning look, his gaze was unwavering.
Challenging her to call me out.
Do it, Little Prey.
She cautiously debated it.
It’ll be far more consequence to you then I.
Lucky for him her eyes moved to a shrouded corner where a slim dark-haired girl gave her a pleading look.
Marlay shook her head desperately hoping to sway the redhead before him.
Sarasae averted her eyes before giving him her attention again.
He lifted a dark brow questioningly. Well, are you going to create the scandal of the year or not?
Growling for his ears alone she took the hand he proffered.
Ooh, do growl at me Little Viper. Drawing her into a waltz he smiled triumphantly. Closing his arms around the woman he’d been waiting to get his hands on for so many long months.
Leaning close to his shoulder she murmured. “You think yourself so clever.”
Because I am.
Look where you are. Caged in my arms and you don’t even know where you’ve put yourself…How much danger you’re in. Grinning unabashedly, he gave a grudging nod.
“And if I’d spurned you then and there?”
“I’d have looked properly put out so everyone would say you were the horrible woman who broke my heart.”
They’d have said you were no lady to make such a scene.
And be it this ball or the next, I’d have gotten you to dance with me.
Scoffing she ran her tongue over her teeth chastisingly before clicking in her cheek. “I think you would have.”
Oh, I most certainly would’ve.
Giving her a lopsided grin. “Never doubt it.” Tone decisive he persisted. “Wait and see what lengths I’ll go to get you let me call on you in the morning.”
Scoffing again she muttered. “Unlikely.” Chin lifting, she turned her face away airily.
Challenge me to bait you, Little Prey. Soon it’ll be you in my trap. Writhing to get away. He’d smirked.
She was wrong.
Due to relentless persistence, she’d consented by the end of the evening.
He’d called on her the next day. And the next.
Despite her old hag of a chaperone, Mrs. Hardigan, the depth of his gaze made his dark intentions clear. You’ll be mine. Carefully bundled and packaged served to me as reward for my vengeance.
Guards carefully in place, she’d permitted his courting but offered no reciprocation.
A cold Little Viper.
Almost mean, her retorts had been endless but the amazement on her face when he’d return the next day made it worth enduring.
Shock clearly written on her expression.
Do you truly think nasty words will drive me off? I’m not so feeble as that.
On a rare occasion Mrs. Hardigan dared leave to fetch tea or sugar, he stole Sarasae’s sweet mouth.
The first time she’d gasped and flushed heatedly.
“Sweeter than honey.” He’d ran a thumb over her lips. Blue eyes zeroing in on the tiny bumps rising on her skin. And the slight shiver that made her hand tremble.
He waited several days to come see her again. Building the suspense.
Making her wonder.
Making her yearn.