How does a woman “bake” a man to perfection?
Especially if the man of interest is overbearing and has a fondness for blunt words and short missives?
I’ve come up with a recipe that might work:
Start with one tart-tongued conversation (in the dark).
Flirt outrageously until midnight.
Then, leave one shoe on his doorstep.
Said man will simmer at low temperatures for a time.
Don’t worry…You’ll bring him to a boil when he finds you.
Sweeten him with promises you may not keep.
Stir up an important luncheon he’s hosting. Pepper it with hot kisses.
Add a dash of midnight adventure in London’s seedier wards.
Melt him with more hot kisses…and season him to taste.
Fold heartache into forgiveness and understanding, and let both hearts cool.
The final result is Cyrus Ryland, a bold commoner of uncommon appeal.
I may have created the perfect man!
With all my heart~
The study’s late-night visitor took a step in her direction, tense lines bracketing his mouth. Immense shoulders shrugged off a fine velvet coat in slow, distracted fashion, the fabric rustling its intimate hush in the dark.
Excuses flew through her mind. She was looking for the lady’s retiring room…she got lost—
“Who are you?” The coat stopped halfway down sizable arms.
Claire tried a fortifying breath, but her lungs refused to cooperate while her mind absorbed a new fact: she faced Cyrus Ryland. He loomed large, waiting in the silence.
Masculine brows shot up when her lack of response stretched too long.
“I’m Claire.” The truth burst out, and she cringed as much from the social slip of blurting her Christian name as from revealing her identity.
His eyes flared, likely from her blunder of manners, but she hadn’t thought of a false identity. Mr. Ryland took his sweet time removing his coat. His unhurried gaze traced her hair, the mask, finally settling on her plunging bodice with thorough consideration.
“Just Claire?” he asked. “Not Lady Claire Something-or-other?”
“For a masked ball—”she attempted a lighthearted smile—“just Claire.”
He retrieved the candle, his granite-hard features severe behind the guttering flame. Mr. Ryland put his coat and the lone taper on a small table beside the settee. Her smile wobbled the closer he came, caught as she was in a neat trap of her own design.
Big hands spun his jabot’s lacy fall around to his nape and went to work on the knot under his chin. Glued to the seat, she couldn’t stop from staring. Little scabs marred his knuckles. She lingered on those marks before her vision drifted upward to confident gray eyes watching her. His powerful presence made the idea of him being anyone’s victim laughable.
The cushion dipped beside her, and her stomach dropped. They’d crossed paths once at Greenwich Park, when she was in service there. Would he have any recollection of her? One hand touched her mask, and she remembered: her face was half-covered in a dimly lit room.
She was safe. For now.
Mr. Ryland faced the wall, more concerned with his neckwear than the stranger in his study.
“Let me guess,” he drawled. “You’ll remain anonymous until midnight, when all will be revealed.”
“Typical of these entertainments, don’t you think?”
“Lovely as you are, being in here isn’t a good idea. I’m not the type to marry because I’m alone with a lady.”
Mr. Ryland assumed she’d come here to entrap him? She wanted to laugh at the absurdity. The evening’s ironic twist was too delicious.
“Oh, I’m no lady, Mr. Ryland.”
His keen stare slanted her way.
“And I promise not to accost you, sir.”
Gina Conkle writes Viking and Georgian romance with a softly sensual side. She loves history, books and romance…the perfect recipe for historical romance writer. Her passion for castles and old places ---the older and moldier the better--- means interesting family vacations. Good thing her husband and two sons share similar passions. When not visiting fascinating places she can be found delving into the latest adventures in cooking, gardening, and chauffeuring her sons.
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