An Unsuitable Entanglement
(cover to be revealed soonish!)
“Why not Lord Strathmore you ask? Because he’s an idiot, that’s why not.”
Alison dabbed at the corners of her eyes, trying to control her mirth once she realized Ariana had been serious in her preposterous suggestion.
“You will have to be more specific, Alison.” Ariana smiled across the candlelit ballroom, somewhat distracted. Her besotted focus, Alison knew, was on her husband, the duke. Although how Ariana found him in a sea of similarly black and white attired gentlemen she didn't know. To her, they seemed like life-size puppets who had their movements choreographed in advance --bow to the ladies dressed in their colorful finery and sparkling jewels, elegantly offer them an arm to lay a gloved hand upon, lead them gracefully onto the dance floor. It was slightly hypnotic to witness and Alison had to shake her head to break the spell.
She heaved a gusty sigh. It had been a mistake to come. She'd hoped to speak with Ariana about urgent business, but this ball, a belated wedding reception for Ariana and Justin, was not the time to talk shop.
But finding an opportune time to speak with Ariana had become a challenge. Ariana spent half her time here, at Bramleigh, and half her time at Dragon's Keep. Her efforts to blend her past as a guardian with her present as a duchess continued to have disconcerting side effects for everyone within her sphere. It explained Alison’s inclusion on the guest list and it explained Ariana’s notion that her husband’s best friend, Lord Percifield Winthorpe, Earl of Strathmore, could possibly be considered a candidate for recruitment in guardian affairs. Granted, she had a grudging respect for Justin’s proven ability to adapt, but that respect did not extend to Lord Percifield.
Alison tapped her fan on Ariana's arm to get her attention. "You want examples of the man's incompetence?” Alison had plenty. "Where do I begin? I will start with the most important. You seem to have forgotten that he can’t even teleport without getting sick.”
That should have been the beginning and end of the discussion, but Ariana shrugged off the valid point with an unconcerned lift of a slim shoulder. “It is hardly fair to use that incident as proof of his lack of intelligence. It happened one time. Once does not make a pattern. Perhaps he won’t be laid low by the experience the next time.”
Alison gave an inelegant snort. “I will pass on being present if there is a next time, thank you very much.”
Ariana turned her head, giving Alison her full attention. “Why do you dislike him so?”
“My opinion has nothing to do with like or dislike. I have simply assessed his skills and found them lacking. He is entirely unsuitable.” She relished the opportunity to get back to the business of listing his faults. “He is too beautiful by far. A veritable Greek god."
Ariana’s eyes sparkled with laughter. "Since when is that a fault?"
"With a face and body like his, how could he possibly blend into the background? He probably gets distracted by his own image in every mirror.” Speaking of distracted, the recurring malody had apparently struck Ariana again. Her gaze was fixed over her shoulder and Alison assumed the duke had relocated. She resisted the temptation to snap her fingers in front of Ariana's face. “Shall I go on?”
Ariana bit her lip. “You might not want to do that.”
“Why stop now? I'm just getting started.” She paused to take a breath to continue, but found she’d lost her train of thought. Where was she on the unsuitability list of Lord Strathmore? In the lull, a deep voice inserted itself somewhere above her left ear.
“What, may I ask, has my face and body disqualified me from?”
Alison jumped. Percy. How had he managed to appear behind her unnoticed? Not about to credit him with some unwarrented skill of stealth, she blamed the chatter and bustle of the crowded ballroom.
"Nothing to concern yourself with Lord Strathmore." She turned to face him, irked that he could tower over her. It made it difficult to look down her nose at him, but she hoped the disdain in her voice made up for the unfamiliar loss of her height advantage. "Your talents are not required."
He raised an eyebrow. “None of them? Are you sure you don't want to find out what they might be first?"
His husky voice suggested wicked talents. Alison cursed the flush she felt warm her from head to toe. "Quite certain."
His dimples flashed. "Why Alison Gray, I do believe you need some fresh air to cool your cheeks."
Now available for preorder at these retailers:
And, now, the second, longer excerpt, of a paranormal with a heavy dose of romantic suspense that beings with a contemporary setting...
Worth the Risk
Release Date: February 7, 2016
Now available for preorder at these retailers:
Barnes and Noble
If you'd like to catch up with The Guardian Angel Series, the book If I Stay ($2.99) and the loosely linked book Ghost of a Promise (available for FREE at the retailers above limited time!) It can be found at the right for Amazon (may still be 99 cents here).