Regency Romance: Dancing with the Duke

BOOK: Regency Romance: Dancing with the Duke
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Dancing with the Duke

 

By Cathy Brooks

 

             

© Copyright 2016 by Cathy Brooks- All rights reserved.

 

In no way is it legal to reproduce, duplicate, or transmit any part of this document in either electronic means or in printed format. Recording of this publication is strictly prohibited and any storage of this document is not allowed unless with written permission from the publisher. All rights reserved.

Respective authors own all copyrights not held by the publisher.

 

This E-Book contains sexually explicit material and is intended for mature audiences. This book is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is entirely coincidental. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

 

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Chapter 1

 

Elizabeth Baines could not be described as being traditionally beautiful by the classic yardstick with which society measured it,- porcelain skin and contrasting golden locks - she still had a certain magicto her personality that managed to bewitch and encompass most of who had the privilege to be her acquaintance. Surrounded by wealth all her life due to being born the daughter of a Lord, she was unfazed by the glitz and glamour it entailed.

In fact, Elizabeth was perhaps the antithesis of what was expected of her by the high-class society in which she had been born and raised. Notorious for her reputation as a bit of a ‘hoyden’, she was accused of having a manner to her personality and mannerisms that did not complement her status as a lady. However, at the tender of one nine, she did not listen to such critique nor did she may much heed to what was being said about her in the community. She was charismatic and possessed a quick wit – which was sometimes mistaken for being un-lady like, as the ladies of her society were meant to be reserved and keep their opinions to themselves – and thus was usually exciting company to have around.

The room was abuzz with laughter and joy as the band played the music the background. The people were dancing the cotillion, the throngs of guests syncing their movements and step in melodic synchrony. Among them was Elizabeth; she enjoyed dancing excessively and always partook in it at parties. She considered herself to be an apt dancer.

“Watch your step,” an annoyed voice snapped Elizabeth from her activities as she danced the final steps of her piece for the night.

She looked up to see a man who looked not much younger than her stare back at her with an impatient expression on his face. This was Sebastian Ilham 

“I beg your pardon?” she replied, confused with his uncalled for impetuousness.

“You stepped on my foot back there while dancing,” he explained and crossed his arms, as if he demanded an apology from her end.

Elizabeth gave him a once over with her eyes before muttering something incoherent under her breath and walking away in the other direction as she spotted one of her friends on the other corner of the room.

Sebastian found himself staring blankly at her behind her, confused by the whole entire interaction that had just taken place. He felt appalled. First, this woman has the audacity to step on his foot and walk away like so without much as acknowledging her error. He shook his head lightly in disproval; such imprudent behavior did not entice him.

Sebastian Ilham was at the age of 24 was a prominent viscount in the same society that Elizabeth hailed from. His family had made their fortune from a lineage as merchants; he too delved into the same sphere and was a merchant himself. Though seldom spending too much overseas as the collective wealth of his family’s fortunes afforded him to live a life of comfort and luxury.

He was a gentleman by all set standards and conditions. Well appreciative of the Arts, he had himself gone to college and was a member of one of the most elite and exclusive of Gentlemen’s Clubs of their town. There, he enjoyed engaging in conversation and had a penchant for gambling – a practice that was considered illegal outside of such member-only establishments.

It was the season of celebrations and parties. The schedules of all the prominent society member were packed to the brim. Each day, a new gathering was organized that required their attendance. It was because of that, the very next night, Sebastian came to encounter Elizabeth yet again.

Sebastian noticed her first when she had just finished dancing. She was surrounded by a group of females, being the center of attention as they giggled and laughed at something she had said. Belonging to the same social circles, there had been many occasions where Sebastian and Elizabeth had been in the same location but never had they had any interaction apart from yesterday. Sebastian concluded that it was because she had one of those faces that you immediately never notice but once you do, they become absolutely hard to ignore.

He watched her from the corner of his eyes at a distance at first and once she had finished speaking with her fellow companions, he strutted right over to where she was situated and introduced himself.

“Allow me to introduce myself, my Lady,” he said, intercepting her path and greeting her with a nod of the head, “My name is Sebastian Ilhom. I believe we did not get the chance to make acquaintance yesterday.”

“That is indeed a strange last name,” Elizabeth remarked, “beg your pardon? Have we met before?” she inquired.

Sebastian looked at her as if he just been insulted greatly but he quickly covered up his reaction, “Yesterday at the ball you happened to clumsily stumble across and step right on the toe of my foot,”  he explained, calm on the surface but appalled that she had forgotten.

“Oh! – Why yes. You.” Elizabeth said, the memory coming back to her, “if I might add, don’t take offense. I meet a lot of people on a near daily basis. One simply cannot be expected to remember the names and faces of them all. My name is Elizabeth Baines,” she said and stuck out her hand for him to shake.

He found this exchange quite odd; as ladies did not usually shake hands and you were meant to kiss them on the hand in greeting instead.

“Ah, I see. So is it also a recurrent state of affairs when you step on people’s foots whilst dancing?”  he raised an eyebrow along her direction.

Elizabeth gave a careless shrug of the shoulders, “It seems you are quite hard-pressed about it since you’ve brought it up more times than anything else we’ve talked about thus far. Relax yourself, these things happen all the time. Do you require that I issue an official apology signed by Her Highness the Queen?” her tone took on a straight edge of sarcasm.

“Just an apology uttered by you would suffice, thank you,” Sebastian shot back. He did not like the satirical remarks being launched his way by this hotheaded woman.

“Ah, can I say please lose that air of self-important chauvinism that you have surrounding you? Five minutes in your company and I dare say, it is already making it harder to stand here,” Elizabeth knew she was a brutal honest and she considered it to be one of her best qualities, “Just some advice for the young noble man,” she finished, smiling sweetly and giving him a small curtsy.

Sebastian found himself getting more flustered at her responses and had only opened his mouth to respond when Elizabeth cut him off.

“Oh- I do believe the dance is about to begin. My dance is full for the night! I must be going now. Pleasure meeting you.” She said before scrambling off with Sebastian just watching her retreating figure with his mouth still agape.

The party had progressed on and Sebastian was now in the company of one of his friends, Lord James Gusto. They were talking of all the suitable women which to pursue; a topic of conversation that came up often as the society which they lived in placed a high pressure on the shoulders of men above twenty-five to settle down in marriage.

“Ah-  I say, Elizabeth Baines is a good catch as well,” James remarked, “her height is perhaps a little on the short side but overall, I would say –“

“Elizabeth Baines?” Sebastian spluttered out in an almost mock horror, “what has happened to your fine taste, James boy? I had the utmost unfortunate privilege of meeting her recently and I have concluded she is thoroughly unpleasant.”

James replied with a chuckle, “What a shame! I would say she is one of the most charming ladies I’ve had the chance to meet. Her dancing skills are quite superior as well. In fact, I had the privilege of leading her to the dance floor myself this afternoon. How come you spew such words ill in taste towards her?”

Sebastian recounted his earlier encounter with her and how she had been most inconsiderate towards him, but James just responded with a chuckle of amusement.

“Why yes, she is sometimes known to be quite brash, but I am an appreciator of art and beauty. To me, her excellent dancing skills will forever make her memory a pleasant one.” James replied.

“Be it as you please. But I have never had tolerance for anything impertinence and discourteous. I have no interest in a girl such as herself who lacks the common mannerisms attributed to a lady. She is tolerable, at best.” Sebastian answered, now beginning to look quite bored with the conversation.

“Lighten up, old chad,” James said, prodding him lightly and mischievously, “besides, she is he daughter of Lord Mathew Baines. They possess quite a high status in society and their business empire vast and booming.”

Lord Mathew Baines! Something clicked into Sebastian’s brain. Oh, in fact, his family had immense and old ties with the Baines. He was shocked to know that she was their daughter and if so, how come he had never heard of her before. But either way, he decided it was best to change the topic of conversation, lest the topic of Elizabeth continue to frustrate him even more tonight.

Chapter 2

 

“Father has invited the Ilham family over for some tea in the afternoon,” Sophia remarked to Elizabeth over breakfast one morning a few days after their last encounter, “I must say, I am a little excited at the prospect.” Sophia was the younger sister of Elizabeth.

Elizabeth put down her cup of tea, “The Ilham family?” she inquired, the name rang a bell in her mind but she could not point out who it was exactly.

“Deborah and Edward Ilham. They’re old friend of father’s,” she said, taking a bite of her eggs, “they have a son called Sebastian – might I say, he is quite handsome,” she trailed off dreamily.

“Sebastian Ilham?”  Elizabeth’s head popped up, “I knew the name sounded familiar. Oh dear – his unpleasant self has found a way to haunt me in my own house. I should find a way to skip this,” she sighed dramatically.

“You have already made acquaintances with me? Oh – when did this even happen?” curiosity spiked Sophia’s tone.

“Only recently.  I must say, I found his company thoroughly boring. He has that sense of entitlement that men of his social rank mostly do and that I do heavily despise,” she ranted, “in fact, I see no reason why you seem so heavily interested in him. He is nothing special.”

“Oh, but his reputation says otherwise. I heard Mary speaking of him yesterday and how he is on the lookout for a bride,” Sophia added.

“What an unfortunate woman she must be, whoever he picks. The man seemed too pompous for his own good. A head so massive it might just fall off and shatter if it gets any bigger,” Elizabeth laughed at her own little anecdote.

“Well, I bid you to at least reserve your judgments about him tonight and behave. He will be our guest,” Sophia warned her, in a playful fashion.

“If I can manage it, I’ll make sure to avoid his company all together,” Elizabeth chuckled yet again, dismissing the conversation and went back paying attention to her uneaten breakfast.

The evening progressed on and soon it was time for the tea party. A few other families had also been invited and the whole group seemed to be having a good time. Elizabeth had been busy entertaining other guest’s but Sophia on the other hand had been jumping at the opportunity to engage in conversation with Sebastian, wanting to see for herself if he matched the description her sister told her.

“My Lord,” Sophia found herself calling out, when finally the opportunity presented itself, “have you been enjoying yourself?” she asked, politely sticking out her hand for him to acknowledge and kiss.

“My Lady,” he greeted her, “you must Sophia, the daughter. My mother mentioned all of you by name on the journey here,” he smiled, his mannerisms reflecting those of a perfect gentleman. Sophia saw her herself beginning to question her sisters judgments.

“As did mine; actually it seems I have heard more of you in the past few days than I had ever in my life – which is truly befuddling as our families have known each other for so long,” she said.

“I hope all of those things were in good nature,” Sebastian remarked, flashing Sophia a charming smile.

“I heard you’ve made acquaintances with my sister already prior though,” Sophia hinted, trying to scrape the surface.

Sebastian’s eyes seemed to light up at the mention, “Oh. Elizabeth. Why yes, we’ve had quite a few encounters in the past few days,” he said, remembering their banter from just a couple of days ago, “I trust she has been talking about me? I often seem to have effect on women,” he said, a smirk dangling on the contours of his lips.

Sophia could see now where her sister got the idea of him being a bit pompous; the ingrained sense of self-entitlement and confidence rolled off of him in waves.

“Quite the contrary, shall I say. She did mention you but only after I had prodded her profusely on the subject,” she admitted, “Besides, you didn’t seem to have left too much of an impression on her.”

“Oh?” Sebastian raised his eyebrow at this, snapping out of his narcissistic reverie, “what makes her have that opinion of me?” he inquired, with a subdued sense of urgency to his tone.

Sophia held her tongue for a moment, unsure of whether or not to drop all the details of their conversation on him or not. But at the end, she decided to stick to being honest - a trait that ran strong in all members of the Baine family.

“She mentioned you being somewhat, entitled and pompous,” Sophia said slowly, “don’t take offense though. My sister is often known for her brutal honesty. But she has a heart purer than anyone I have come to know. Really, you almost end up appreciating her raw and unfiltered sense of self.” Sophia added quickly in defense of her sister.

“I do not see how possessing such a bluntness can be a characteristic of endearment in a lady.” He brooded. Sebastian was both annoyed and – he hated to admit it but, - curious by this woman; he was not used to being ignored and put down this much by women. Usually, they competed against themselves for his attention and good graces.

“Oh, don’t be so archaic, my Lord,” Sophia dismissed him briefly, “I believe you both just got off on the wrong foot. She is a very lovely person to know and I’m sure all the good graces I have heard about your personality hold some truth to them as well,” Sophia did not enjoy conflict and often times played the mediator in such situations.

“If it’s any consolation, my Lady; of all the siblings of the Baine siblings, I do have to say I like you the best so far. In comparison with your sister.”  Sebastian flashed her that disarming smile of his.

Sophia, again, dismissed him with some laughter, “Oh I do see that you hold up well to your reputation as a flirt. But I am already spoken for,” she said, flashing the ring sitting atop her fingers.

“I didn’t mean to court you, my Lady,” Sebastian explained, almost hurriedly, “it’s more of a natural instinct for at this point. When I see something I appreciate, I almost always choose to vocalize it.”

“A true gentleman you are,” Sophia chuckled yet again.

Just then, Elizabeth appeared into view, having spotted the both of them engaged in conversation from the other side of the room.

“Are you here to assert your pomposity and demand forceful apologies from my sister as well?” Elizabeth said, bluntly.

Sebastian looked over to her and was noticeably taken aback by her appearance. Perhaps it was the fact that she was clad in more casual attire than before - a white long demure gown compared to the extravagant ones worn in parties - or the fact that she had her long brunette hair down, where it flowed past her shoulder. He couldn’t point just exactly which but he found himself thinking just how strikingly gorgeous she was.

“Quite the contrary, sister dear; in fact I happen to think he is a lovely young man. You had me all misguided,” Sophia joked, only to receive a quick roll of the eye from Elizabeth.

“I honestly find that quite hard to believe.”

“Don’t be so quick to judge, my Lady,” Sebastian chimed in, “will you two ladies be in attendance of the Ball at the Hawthorne Estate this evening?” he inquired, addressing the both of them.

“Why yes; Emilia Hawthorne is a dear friend of mine and I wouldn’t miss it for anything,” Sophia replied excitedly. Sebastian eye’s shifted to Elizabeth.

“I might decide to come if I cannot find anything better to do,” Elizabeth trailed on, “I do enjoy dancing.”

“So I have heard,” Sebastian replied, “if you do decide to make an appearance, may I have the distinct honor of asking you to a dance? Perhaps this time you will not step on my toe,” he teased.

Elizabeth rolled her eyes at him again. His pompous and narcissistic antics infuriated her. “My dance card is almost always full-“she stopped as Sophia nudged her in the stomach with her elbow, shooting a watchful look in her direction. Elizabeth sighed and then continued.

“But perhaps, if you decide to keep that arrogance of your to yourself, I might be able to dance with you.”

BOOK: Regency Romance: Dancing with the Duke
10.91Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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