A gift is a wonderful surprise. Or maybe not.
At the Earl of Langley's family gathering, everyone receives a gift, including the servants. Tutor Stephen Fairfax expects a small token, but the present from family member Mrs. Anne Copley, the widow who has caught his eye, is a dream come true.
Until he opens it. What a gift! How did that demure lady acquire such a book? And she wants to "study" the positions in it with him? If he accepts her offer, tempting as it is, he could lose his job.
Anne has no idea why Mr. Fairfax is in such a flutter. Her present is a simple book of illustrations. The subject interests them both, and she would like nothing better than to examine the book--and Mr. Fairfax--more closely.
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English Tea Rose
June 28, 2011
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Excerpt from Gifts Gone Astray by Linda Banche
She glanced at the mantel clock. "Oh, look at the time! I must return to the drawing room. So much to do before the family party tonight. But, before I leave..." She swallowed. "We had some trouble with the gifts today. Yours went missing. I apologize--"
"But I received a gift. Someone left it outside my door."
"Thank the stars." She pressed her hand to her bosom.
Stephen's gaze followed her hand, and his throat dried.
"I worried your present was lost."
She worried about me. Capital! He tore his attention from her breasts and lifted his head. "I have not yet unwrapped it. A book, I take it?"
"Yes. The volume belonged to my husband. He was a scholar, and that book was one of his favorites. Mine, too. We spent many happy hours enjoying it." Another dazzling smile curved her lips. "I selected it with you in mind."
His pulse thumped. I have a chance. "You flatter me with your consideration."
"My pleasure." She flashed another of her heart-stopping smiles. "As much as I long to, I will not ruin the surprise by telling you what the book is." She smoothed her face into a blank stare, but her glorious chocolate eyes twinkled.
So, she wanted to play games. He gave an inward smirk. He would love to play games of a different sort. But he would settle for a guessing game. For now.