Today I’m pleased to host an original scene by Kate McKinley, author of A Duchess in the Dark and A Countess by Chance. Kate was given four requirements; her scene had to involve at least three characters (at some point), lace, a feather, and an ice cube. I believe the other authors on the book tour will also be posting original scenes featuring these four elements, so keep an eye out if you’re a fan of C. C. Gibbs, Jodi Ellen Malpas, or Cecilia Tan.
Without further ado, here’s Kate’s scene.
Miss Olivia Grayson watched from across the ballroom as Lord Thomas Black, Viscount of Torrington meandered through the crowd, looking just as handsome and rakish as he was rumored to be. A shame she wasn’t in the market for a husband. “Is he not the model of perfection?” Elena Stacey, her friend and confidant, said from beside her. “It is rumored that he’s in Town for the very particular purpose of finding a wife.”
“Is that so?” Olivia said.
“They say he wishes to set up his nursery soon.” Elena smiled, unfurling her lace fan. “And I dare say there are a hundred ladies who’d beg for the privilege of being Lady Torrington.”
“Well, then let them beg.” Olivia turned her attention away from Torrington. “Lord knows I would never go to such lengths for a husband.”
Elena smirked. “I daresay your fortune will prevent you from ever having to beg, my dear. The rest of us, however, must be more practical.”
“Good evening, ladies.”
The rich, male baritone slithered up Olivia’s spine. She turned to see Torrington approach, his luscious mouth drawn up into a charming smile. He had the face of a fallen angel—fair and handsome, with a straight nose, high cheekbones and something wicked gleaming in those brilliant blue eyes that glittered like ice.
“Miss Stacey. Miss Grayson.” He bowed, his eyes lingering on Olivia. “You both look lovely this evening. Miss Grayson, if you are not otherwise engaged, may I be so bold as to claim the next dance?”
Her gaze darted to Elena, who’d all but wilted at Torrington’s words. Eyes downcast, hands clasped firmly in front of her, it was clear Elena had hoped to be the recipient of Torrington’s offer.
“I couldn’t possibly leave Miss Stacey—“
“Please don’t refuse on my account.” Elena flashed Olivia a weak smile. “I’ll be quite all right. Go, enjoy yourself.”
Torrington smiled. “I shall return her to you directly. And I would be honored, Miss Stacey, if you will permit me the next waltz.”
Elena’s face brightened, and she curtsied gracefully, her white and gold trimmed gown glittering in the candlelight. “Thank you. I am not engaged. It would be my pleasure, my lord.”
Torrington bowed, then took Olivia’s hand and led her through to the dance floor, where the beginning cords of Dusky Night drifted through the large hall. When the dance was over, Torrington led her out onto the balcony. He turned to her and smiled—that devastating smile rendered every woman in London speechless.
“Miss Grayson,” he said, cadging her against the wall, both hands braced on either side of her head. “I’ve had a deplorable evening, and I place the blame squarely on your shoulders. How will you make amends?”
Olivia swallowed. His scent was an intoxicating mixture of cigar smoke and pure male, and it never failed to arouse her. Heat spread through her limbs and pooled in her stomach. “I can’t imagine what you mean.”
“You know precisely what I mean.” He leaned in close. He was going to kiss her, she could feel it, his warm breath mingling with hers, the heat of his body curling around her like a ribbon of sunshine. “You’ve been flirting with every gentleman in attendance.”
“And why shouldn’t I? I have it on good authority that you are in Town searching for a bride.”
He pulled back a little, and plucked the feather from her hair, then traced the tip of it across her jaw, and down her neck until he reached the tight nipple that strained against her silk bodice.
“You are very well informed, Miss Grayson. That is my precise purpose for venturing into town.”
She squirmed under that sharp, emerald gaze. He brushed his thumb over her nipple through her gown, sending little sparks of pleasure shooting through her limbs. e was wicked, and depraved, and she wanted him desperately. He lowered his head and touched his lips to hers. It’d been so long, and she’d missed the taste of him. Smoke, and brandy and man all entwined to create something quite intoxicating. This was no gentle seduction. He swept his tongue into her mouth, as his hands slid blithely downward, cupping her backside. She pulled away and placed a hand on his chest. “Thomas, stop. Someone will catch us.”
He leaned back in and kissed a trail up her neck, along her jaw. “And what if they do? You’d be forced to accept my proposal.”
Olivia closed her eyes briefly. “I can’t, Thomas.”
“Tell me why.”
If she told him the truth, he would despise her. He would think her the worst sort of harlot. It’d be a miracle if he ever spoke to her again. She shook her head, tears threatening. “I can’t,” she repeated, then kissed him briefly, and fled back into the house.
A gambler’s daughter, Sophia Weatherby knows her way around a deck of cards. So when her family estate becomes threatened, she has no choice but to use her skills at the gaming tables to save herself from ruin. A lavish house party affords her the perfect opportunity-until the newly minted Earl of Huntington arrives. Adam Greyson has never forgotten the day Sophia rejected his proposal. Now to even the score, he challenges her to a shocking wager-his two thousand pounds against the one valuable commodity she has left: her virtue.