Dashing All the Way

Read the Excerpt

(For clarity’s sake, Mr. Smith and McTavish are the same man!)

His eyebrow gave the tiniest quiver—as if he had to physically exert control over it—but he maintained his smile. “I detect, Mrs. Bowmont, that you are a cynic.”
“Oh, not at all.” It was no trouble to give him back her widest smile—she was so enjoying herself. “Rather more of an enthusiast—that is to say I have an enthusiasm for the diverting and the ridiculous.”
“And you find me ridiculous?”
“I find you ridiculously intriguing, and the others, ridiculously gullible.”
He played his part to perfection, allowing his forehead to crease into the barest of quizzical frowns. “I can’t think what you mean.”
“Can’t you? Well, you had better dance with me so I can explain it.” She held out her hand so that the poor man had really no other choice than to accept it.
“Had you not rather dance with Mr. Bowmont?” he asked with an off-putting frown.
“I had, but as dear Mr. Bowmont is unfortunately deceased, you’ll have to do. So fear not, Mr. Smith—you’re quite safe with a widow.”
“How reassuring.” But he smiled, and he said no more as he led her out to the dance floor for the entire couple of dances.
To be fair, they were lively dances that both kept them in close proximity to others and required such attention to the figures that she had no chance to talk to him either. But she got the measure of him in other ways—of his hands, which were beautifully articulated, with long, fingers that displayed a fascinating strength when they took hers. Of his eyes, which were a divine glittering green, and which never stopped roving about the room, taking in all sorts of other details, but never once strayed to her bosom and the rather expensive Tudor-era pearl cross hanging there. And of his bearing, which was graceful and elegant without sacrificing an ounce of honed masculinity.
In short, Mr. Smith was a handsome man. Remarkably handsome. A man to admire.
And admire him she did—he fascinated her, just as he had done since the first time her older brother Hugh had mentioned his name in a letter all those years ago. She had rather made a hero of McTavish in her mind, buffing him up to a glossy shine without the benefit of actually knowing anything about him beyond his “fine mettle and loyal heart.”
But after all those years, she was delighted to find the reality was very near as good as the adolescent fantasy.