“Dance with her!” Cordelia ordered Anthony, poking him square in the chest with her gloved hand.
“Cordelia, you’re making a scene!” He cursed and felt the heat of embarrassment spread down his neck.
“I swore I would revere the day I saw my brother blush!” Ambrose’s solo applause brought Anthony a renewed sense of ill will towards his twin brother, which must have registered on his face. “Well done, my dear. Anthony looks quite put out.”
“I assure you, I am fine.” Anthony cleared his throat to mask his indignation.
Just then Wilde approached the group. “Has he worked up his nerve yet, or are we still in the coaxing stage?” Traitor.
“Still coaxing,” Ambrose and Cordelia answered in unison. Ambrose gave his wife a wink and pulled her far too close. Anthony knew they were happy, but must they flaunt it before him?
Anthony glanced towards the lady in question once more. She was lovely. Perhaps the finest he had seen in quite some time. Her dark red hair framed her fair face in delicate ringlets, and the blue of her gown set her eyes off like brilliant sapphires. He felt Ambrose watching him and turned back to his brother.
He had that dangerous look, as if a plan were forming in his mind as he spoke. “Say, Anthony?”
“What?” The crazed glint in his brother’s eyes disturbed him, but he trained his own gaze on the girl by the plants again, feigning boredom.
“Would you agree that every Season, you are approached by several women for little dalliances?”
“Yes.” It would do no good to ignore him.
“Would you also agree that you’re one of the most sought after bachelors in the ton?”
Beside him, Wilde cursed. “I’ll answer that for you. Just this morning in the park a girl cried when he picked up her fallen hat.”
“Perfect,” Ambrose said. “Do you believe you could make any woman fall in love with you then, Anthony? Or have you lost your touch?”
Oh, so that was what this was about. Anthony couldn’t stop the grin from spreading across his lips. He did have an enviable touch when it came to the gentler sex.
“Not that it matters, but yes I do believe that.” Anthony smoothed out his jacket with pride. He could have any woman eating out of his hand within minutes of an introduction. Yes, he was that good. His prowess had never once been disputed.
“To be certain.” Anthony thought the line of questioning ridiculous. His brother knew his talent better than anyone else in the world. Wilde appeared to be mumbling a prayer heavenward. Strange. Praying a fraction of Anthony’s charms be bestowed on him no doubt.
“And you’re willing to wager you could accomplish this in say… four weeks?”
“Yes.” Anthony nodded. This discussion was growing tiresome. The view was nice though. The girl’s ruby lips were drawn into a tight pout. She turned her head to address someone over her shoulder. Was that a hint of fire in her eyes? Her apparent spirit intrigued him, and he found himself wishing his present conversation would end, so he could obtain an introduction to his newest conquest.
“Shake my hand, Anthony,” Ambrose ordered.
Anthony reached out and shook his hand. A sudden realization struck him. What did he just give his consent to? He cursed under his breath.
Ambrose grinned. “What was that?”
“Did I just agree to a bet?”
“Yes, and guess who I’m choosing.”
Anthony closed his eyes. “I don’t want to guess. I want to go back in time and slap myself before I accepted the terms.”
“Not possible. Do you see that girl over there? The one you’ve been salivating over for the past ten minutes while you handed over your life to me on a silver platter?”
Anthony cursed again.
“You haven’t called me that in ages!” Ambrose slapped him on the back. “Her. You must make her fall in love with you in four weeks’ time. Good luck!”
“Why do I feel like this is going to go terribly wrong?” Wilde muttered.
“Or,” Cordelia said as she kissed Ambrose on the cheek. “It could go terribly right.”
“Yes… yes, it could.” Ambrose leaned down and kissed his wife full on the mouth. “After all, it’s just a bet.” Why did they have to do that in public?
Cordelia giggled as she swatted at her husband with her reticule. “Who knows where it will lead?”
“Probably somewhere near the potted plants.” He pointed as the lady in question stepped behind the large plant.
Anthony rolled his eyes in disgust and walked away. His brother’s words faded as the great hall filled with music. It hardly seemed like a fair bet. The girl hadn’t danced all evening. This would be a piece of cake for a devil may care charmer like himself.