Perhaps he is, Anne said, jumping on that. For the fiancée!
―He needs one quickly."―Most young ladies would be flattered by his regard."
She sighed. ―I know." And so she looked up and smiled. It was one of those awkward sorts of smiles that are at least three fourths nervous laughter. ―I am," she said. She swallowed.―Flattered, that is."―Of course you are," he murmured.
Annabel stood still, trying not to tap her foot. Another one of those habits her grandmother deplored. But it was so hard to stand still when one wasn‘t feeling quite oneself. ―It‘s a moot point," she said in a rush. ―He has not called. I suspect he has moved on to another prospect."―For which I hope you are grateful," Mr. Grey said quietly.
She did not reply. She couldn‘t. Because she was grateful. More than that, she was relieved. And she felt so bloody guilty for feeling that way. Marriage to the earl would have saved her entire family. She shouldn‘t feel grateful. She should be prostrate with grief that the match had fallen through.
―Mr. Gre-ey!" her grandmother trilled from across the room.She nodded and stepped forward, allowing him to take her hand in his. Around her she heard whispers, and she felt stares, but when she looked up and saw him gazing down at her, his eyes so clear and gray, it all melted away. His uncle…the gossip…none of it mattered. She would not let it.
They walked to the center of the ballroom, and she turned to face him, trying to ignore the shiver of anticipation that slid through her when he placed his other hand at the small of her back. Annabel had never understood why the waltz had once been considered so scandalous.He was holding her properly, a full twelve inches between them. No one could have found fault with their behavior. And yet Annabel felt as if the air around them had been heated, as if her skin had been rubbed with some strange, shimmering magic. Each breath seemed to fill her lungs differently, and she was acutely aware of her own body, of how it felt to be inside of it, of how each curve moved and flowed with the music.
She felt like a siren. A goddess. And when she looked up at him, he was staring down at her with a raw, hungry expression. He was aware of her body, too, she realized, and this made her even more tight and taut inside.For one brief moment she closed her eyes, reminding herself that this was all a sham. They were playacting, rehabilitating her in the eyes of society. Merely by dancing with her, Mr. Grey was making her desirable. And if she felt desired—by him—then she needed to gain a clearer head.