Friday, October 5, 2012

Sweet Saturday: Unwanted Attention

Senor Tenorio

Lord Marks made lively conversation during the short trip to Holly Hall. No doubt an effort to bolster Anastasia’s spirits. She tried to humor him, to laugh along with his jests, but inside she was in turmoil.

She would know her fate in a matter of minutes, but in the mean time there was nothing she could do but hope.

As the footman announced them, Anastasia scrutinized every face in the ballroom one by one.

Her heart sank when her search returned empty.

Her father offered his arm, whispering in her ear, “It’s early yet, my sweet. Chin up. He’ll come.”

Anastasia braved a weak smile. “Of course, Papa. He’ll come.” Her throat clenched around the words she desperately wished were true.

Safely deposited among the ladies on the side of the great hall, Anastasia continued her search for Baldwyn’s auburn hair and clear blue eyes.

When Lord and Lady Kringle were announced, the music began. There was still no sign of Baldwyn. Anastasia clung to her father’s words. It’s early yet. Her gaze made its fourth desperate sweep of the ballroom.

Behind her, a familiar masculine voice drifted to her ears, sending waves of chill dancing down her spine all the way to her toes.

“So lovely to see you again, señorita.”

Mr. Tenorio. Anastasia cringed as though with his words and his smooth exotic accent he had touched her. And then he stepped even with her, standing far too close. She retreated a step, but found herself against Tristan Markham on the other side, who had closed in without her notice.

“Mr. Markham. Mr. Tenorio.” Anastasia offered a shallow curtsy.

“Please.” Mr. Tenorio grasped her hand and lifted it to his lips, pulling her toward him in the same motion. “Allow me to be the first to offer my sympathy, my dear.”

“Sympathy, sir?” she asked, regarding him with contempt.

“On the dissolution of your engagement, of course. It must have been a frightful experience, your entanglement with the Scottish duke. I hear he has a terrifying temper,” Tenorio crooned.

Had it not been for his possessive grip on her hand and the unsettling words about her betrothal, Anastasia would have laughed out loud then, for the proof of Baldwyn’s terrifying temper was still fading from Tenorio’s cheekbone, though he had apparently tried to cover it with powder.

“Pardon me?” Anastasia stared at him. On her other side, Tristan bumped her elbow, pushing her into Tenorio’s chest.

“Yes, yes, señorita. There is no need to pretend all is well. We are friends, no?  ” His grasp slid to her elbow and he held her firmly to him, as his other hand reached to caress her cheek. He smoothed her lips with his thumb.

“No,” she countered and closed her lips into a stern line, glaring into his soul-less black eyes.

“Aww, you wound me, my lady… and after all we’ve shared together.” He clicked his tongue as if to shame her.

“Let go of me.”

~ from Two Turtledoves (coming in November)


  1. The menace in this scene has me gringing my teeth in frustration for her.

  2. Uh-oh. Anastasia has herself in a pickle! Wonderful excerpt, Leah.

  3. Poor Anastasia is in a tough spot -- wedged between Markham and Tenorio. Will she extricate herself or will someone have to come to her rescue? I'm hoping Tenorio's other cheekbone will soon be bruised.

  4. Beautiful scene, Leah. Thanks for letting us into this ballroom.