Teddy controlled the cold sweat that ran down her spine and schooled her face into an expression of incomprehension, as the Commander observed her. Remaining mute probably wasn’t the answer, as it would be tantamount to an admission he was correct. Arching an eyebrow she smiled shyly and whispered, as if completely baffled.
“I’m not entirely sure I follow my Lord.”
The tidewater of fear receded, as she spoke, the clenching in her guts loosening. This was a battle she could wage; he might be a Lord on the sea but as much as she didn’t like them, navigating the waters of society was almost second nature to Theodora. This was merely an unexpected breeze, which required little adaptation. He might as well be a man who attempted to steal a kiss where it wasn’t proper. That said, no rogue ever had such a sharp gaze it felt as if he were trying to discover her penetralia. And he might yet.
The music started and he led her in familiar steps of a waltz. Of course it had to be a waltz. His hold tightened on her waist as she twirled around him. He held her closer, leaning to whisper in her ear.
“Hasn’t it occurred to you that I would recognize you. A mask might give you the sense of being faceless Lady Theodora but you are recognizable for a man like me.”
“And pray tell where would we have met before my Lord? For I am quite certain we have never been introduced. Although I have heard much of you from Lord Dashford.”
That was the absolute truth. Yes, she could handle this. She relaxed ever so slightly that he might not feel the tension in her body, as she would with a dancing partner she was getting used to.
“We weren’t introduced my Lady,” a shiver ran down her spine at his use of the title. The quality of his tone was as possessive and sensual as it ever could. By Jove the man was potent. “But I noticed you. It’s difficult to overlook such a one as you.”
She laughed. This one was easily handled. She was after all three and twenty. And unmarried: men would find it easy to dismiss her unusual looks.
“You are flattering me my Lord but you will find men and women alike overlook me quite often.”
“From the stir you caused upon entering, I find it hard to believe.”
“That is because of the dress.”
The wistful note in her tone wasn’t fake. She’d spent five seasons observing friends being courted and wooed. Men didn’t notice her. Or rather they did and made a wide berth around her.
“No. You have a commanding presence that few people have. I should know.”
The gleam in his eyes said he wouldn’t be giving up until she relented. Well, he was in for a surprise. Her talent lay in making people yield: she rarely did. Still he might just be the one to make her. There was something savage about him and it was not only his looks.
“Don’t you want to know why I’m so adamant that you are Mistress Thea my Lady?”
“I can’t say that I do, seeing as I have no idea who…”
“I would want to serve you, my Lady.”
That shocked her mute alright. She didn’t even realize the music had stopped until he brought her hand to his lips and brushed her knuckles, with a reverence she found unnerving.
“Think on it my Lady.”
She was grateful for Brent’s arrival. Their father wanted a word. Casting one last glance at the Commander, she found him smiling. That wasn’t a proper offer of service and he knew it. And he knew she knew, which explained the smile. Well he’d outwitted her and won this battle. Unsurprising considering what a great strategist he was, but he had yet to win the war. She was looking forward to the next skirmish.
In response to Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie prompt Wordle
1. Mute, 2. Tidewater, 3. Wisteria, 4. Step, 5. Bibliotaph (A person who hoards books.), 6. Guts, 7. Occur, 8. Breeze, 9. Faceless, 10. Fake, 11. Sharp, 12. Penetralia (The most private or secret things.)