When his first love, the Lady Marianne, dies in his arms, the Duke of Albourne believes her lost to him forever…until he meets the Lady Elizabeth, who seems strangely destined to fulfill Marianne’s promise of a last dance with the duke.
Unable to prevent his first love, the Lady Marianne, from being struck down by a carriage in a London street, Anthony Thornhill, heir to the Duke of Albourne, watches her die in his arms.
Believing her lost to him forever, he tries to forget her through an endless line of ladies, his rakish ways leaving him empty and wanting. That is until he literally bumps into the Lady Elizabeth, his curiosity aroused. Drawn to her, because she reminds him of a loss he will never regain, he comes to realize she just may be the Lady Marianne, fulfilling a promise of a dance that never was. His only problem…she does not remember him.
Can he bring her memories forth, allowing her to see him as she did then? To know him once more and reclaim the love for him she once had? Or will she be lost to him forever?
Anthony Thornhill, the Duke of Albourne, was quite enjoying the close company. He had to admit, she was not like the many other girls he had known, all fluttering eyelashes and coy smiles behind lace fans. No, she was quite extraordinary, and the fact that she was not already melting under his most capable charm, as every other sweet young thing to have graced his presence had done, was evidence enough of that. She intrigued him, this young woman before him, and engendered a sense of challenge within him. And he was never more alive than when aroused by a challenge as sweet as Lady Elizabeth.
He grinned, observing her downward glance, and then looked in the direction of the refreshment tables. “It would seem that I must attend to this,” he admitted with a note of reluctance, having come to appreciate their intimate circumstance. “If you would wait for me here, I won’t be but a—”
Lady Elizabeth gasped as someone fell against her, pushing her into Anthony. He reached out quickly, catching her in his arms. The impact knocked him back although he braced against it.
“Forgive me,” Lady Elizabeth uttered. Her palms pressed firmly into the now taut muscles of Anthony’s chest. She tried to right herself, but the man who’d knocked her over was still pushing against her as he attempted to stand.
The fragrance of lilacs rose before Anthony, the firmness of Lady Elizabeth’s body now deliciously warm as she was pressed helplessly against him. He tightened his arms around her. Her silken curls caressed his face and as the pink of her cheeks deepened noticeably, he smiled.
He liked the way she felt in his arms. In fact, he’d been thinking about it ever since she’d stumbled into those same arms earlier in High Street. Only then, the moment had been lost before he’d had the opportunity to really enjoy it.
Now, he was definitely enjoying the moment, and the fact that he was unable to move—unable to do anything in which he could remedy the situation—was no cause for alarm as far as he was concerned. Although she was trying desperately to pull away, moving her body ever so slightly against him in the process, it only served to heighten his pleasure.
The man righted himself and Lady Elizabeth was at last able to free herself.
“You must believe me the clumsiest fool, sir,” she said to Anthony, her hands still firmly pressed upon the embroidered grey silk of his waistcoat.
“I could never believe that of you, Lady Elizabeth.” An errant curl had come loose, its raven tress descending upon the milky white of her neck, and he watched as she tried unsuccessfully to tuck it back into place.
He realized he had been staring. “Lady Elizabeth?” He hesitated, hoping his words would bring those green eyes to look upon him, her gaze having been directed everywhere but. “Lady Elizabeth, I—”