As You Desire

Free As You Desire by Connie Brockway

Book: As You Desire by Connie Brockway Read Free Book Online
Authors: Connie Brockway
have it, is all. I tell you all what. Anyone who brings me a good-size, mantel-size—Texas mantel-size, that is—authentic Apis bull, I’ll pay him ten thousand dollars cold American cash.”
    Every table within a twenty-foot radius went abruptly silent.
    “Did you say ten … thousand … dollars?”
    Desdemona’s eyes glazed over. Harry was grinning like a fool; even Blake looked nonplussed.
    “I did, ma’am.”
    Ten thousand dollars would pay off every debt her grandfather had and even some he hadn’t. It would pay for repairs to the house, purchase first-class passage to England, a new suit for Grandfather and perhaps even a dress or two for her.
    “For an Apis bull?” her grandfather asked in astonishment. “An Apis bull is rare but it isn’t that—ouch!” He shot her a wounded look and reached under the table to rub his shin. Enlightenment dawned in his eyes. “Sorry, banged my leg. Where was I? Oh, yes. Ten thousand dollars. Well, you might be able to get someone to part with it for that.”
    She might be able to find that bull, Desdemonathought,
and
act as the handsome viscount’s tour guide.
    She wasn’t the only one who decided ten thousand dollars was worth a little effort.
    Georges bolted upright from the table and upended his chair. He backpedaled, stammering good nights before turning and trotting away. Her grandfather rose more sedately, his expression sharp with greed. “Ah, Braxton … be a good lad and see Desdemona home. I have a … a headache. Don’t want to spoil her fun. Good night.”
    Simon, smiling and beaming, lumbered to his feet. “Ah, look at that time. Late for an old piker like myself. I …” He frowned at her grandfather’s quickly receding back. “I … Night!” He spun and hurried off, leaving Cal Schmidt blinking at the half-empty table.
    “Was it something I said?”

C HAPTER S EVEN

    “W hy are you looking at me like that?” Harry asked. He twirled Desdemona on the dance floor, spinning her so quickly the breath caught in her throat. She laughed with delight, filled with pleasure first that she and Harry had found their way back to this familiar ground, and second that in Blake Ravenscroft she’d finally found a man who could supplant Harry in her imagination.
    “Well?” he prompted, smiling down at her quizzically.
    “I was wondering why you didn’t race off to hunt up an Apis bull with the rest of the pack after Mr. Schmidt made his offer,” she lied.
    “Simple. Your grandfather asked me to see you first entertained and then safely home. I take my responsibilities seriously,” he said glibly, looking over the crowd.
    She took the opportunity to examine his profile: the deeply sensual bow of his upper lip, the short,thick fringe of bronze lashes, the strong, cleanly shaved throat. He glanced down, well aware she’d been studying him, his expression gently—nearly tenderly—amused.
    She cleared her throat. “I know why.”
    “Why what?” He cocked his head.
    “Why you aren’t scuttling about the streets of Cairo looking for Mr. Schmidt’s Apis bull.”
    “Yes?”
    “It’s because you already as good as have one in your pocket. Probably sent a message to your teenage apprentice, Rabi, somewhere between the fruit and cheese course at dinner. I swear I saw him lurking about the outside of the hotel earlier tonight.”
    He grinned. “Just another lovesick male under your spell, Dizzy.”
    She made an unladylike sound. “I don’t believe that for a minute.”
    “I know you don’t, it’s part of your charm.” He directed her attention to the line of young officers gazing morosely in her direction. “There’s your devoted following now.”
    She laughed and shook her head. “Unfortunately that’s all they do … follow. None of those lads ever comes to call, hardly ever ask me to dance, and the only person who takes me out, besides Grandfather, is you.”
    “Not that you’re complaining.”
    “Of course not!” she

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