Was the rapid beating of her heart a mere symptom of disloyalty? Or a greater excitement? The ball, her scandalous dress—the mysterious and desirable man before her?
So why hadn’t she determinedly said no? The idea should have been dismissed with an arrogant wave of her hand and a haughty lift of her brow.
The skin at his neck was tanned but not overly so, as if he might spend time out of doors. His hands were roughened but not unpleasantly. His cologne, what she could smell, was light, fresh and not overbearing. Underneath the costume and faux accent, he was a gentleman in language and manner but he was not a dandy. His behavior was that of a cautious rake, subtly testing her will and resistance to determine if she had either. Was he playing a part too?
With little willful intent, just a natural curiosity to know who this man was, she stroked her finger over the skin of his neck. Contemplation of his question was a surprise. What was she worth? And was she really considering such a shocking—outrageous—proposal?
“I know a private place,” he said, assuming her lack of response was acquiescence. Maybe it was.
Was sin only about circumstance, she wondered? Here, at this ball, dancing with a stranger, he presented an unthinkable opportunity. What a strange word to describe something so inherently wrong. And something so foolishly dangerous.
An occasion to sin, that’s what this was.
An occasion to do something delightfully wicked, scandalous in magnitude and unforgivable if discovered.