To Entice an Earl
Miss Alexandra Farris lost her heart to her older brother's friend, Lord Maxon Collins, long, long ago. Despite her girlhood attempts to win him, he never noticed her. Now that her first season is underway, she understands why. He prefers willowy blondes, not curvaceous maidens with darker coloring like herself. Rather than wallow in self-pity, she forgets love and focuses on something more attainable—an advantageous match.
Lord Collins is plagued by an uncomfortable feeling whenever he goes near Miss Farris. One of annoyance. And yet, he can’t seem to stop thinking of her, touching her, kissing her...He must act in her brother’s stead, which means he has to approve her suitor and ensure her safety. Unfortunately, he can’t seem to find a worthy gentleman.
Wedding her off should be a simple task, but not if he can’t let her go.
“I have too given you compliments.”
“Really?” She exhaled. “Name one.”
He contemplated the matter for a moment and then said, “I told you your hair was prettier in disarray.”
She had forgotten that. “So you said one thing. Congratulations.”
“Thank you.” He swept an exaggerated bow and smirked up at her.
“That is not something to be proud of. Why, it’s not even that monumental a compliment.”
He straightened, and a light flared in his eyes. There had always been a light mood between them, but he had never looked at her in such a way before. It was almost, well, sinful.
“Allow me to remedy my error, then.” He caught her hand in his, and gazed deep into her eyes. “Your eyes remind me of a summer storm.” Her gaze faltered from his, but he continued. “Your skin is as smooth as fine porcelain, and your hair is made of the most enticing curls I have ever seen. I can imagine your freed hair would make a man lose his senses. And lastly, you have deliciously kissable lips.”
She swallowed. His ridiculous, probably oft-used lines had the most amazing effect on her. Her knees had grown weak, and her mind was slow to focus. “I-I d-don’t think…” Her voice trailed off as he chuckled.
“With that said, you also possess a tremendous ability to irritate me beyond comprehension.”
That shook her enough to end her weak-kneed response. She glared and straightened from her withered position. “You can’t simply be pleasant, can you? You have to end on a sour note.”
He shrugged. “If your behavior was not so irrational, I would not have needed to mention it.”
“I have a logical explanation for my behavior.”
“I don’t like you.” Except she did. Too much.
The cricket chirped once more, interrupting the intensity of the moment with its grating music. “Honestly, darling, you do not need to like me. You just need to dislike Lord Edwin.” His hand dropped hers, but not before he allowed it to slide down the length of her fingers.
Her stomach flipped pleasantly, and she brought her eyes up from his hand. He was so tall and equally as infuriating. She turned from him, her breath catching as she spoke. “We should return now.”
She kept her hands clenched in front of her. She did not want to touch him. They strolled side by side and returned to the table, her attention rooted firmly to each step she took, rather than him.
“Is everything settled?” Lady Farris asked as Alexa moved to sit.
“Yes, but where is Lord Edwin?” He was nowhere to be seen.
“He thought it best he leave so we could stay and enjoy the fireworks.”
Odd how she had not noticed his departure. “Ah,” Alexa murmured in response. While she preferred to avoid confronting him, it was exceptionally rude of him not to see her home, much less bid her good evening.
She looked up to find Lord Collins had resumed his position next to Miss Cannis. They chatted amiably, and Alexa remembered why they were there in the first place. “It is best we stay. Lord Collins still must repair the damage he has done.”