One Naughty Night2
Fancy, and she hadn’t yet seen him again. He had sent flowers twice, bouquets of violets, along with short notes in his dark, slashing handwriting, but that was all. She wasn’t sure if she was relieved not to face him after what happened or disappointed. But thoughts of him caught her at the oddest moments. She would be working on accounts and see his teasing smile in her mind, that dimple set so incongruously in his chiseled cheeks. She would be riding in the park and smell his cologne.
    And at night, in her dreams, she felt his kiss, his touch. Imagined him between her legs on her bed, drawing her feet over his shoulders as he plunged his talented tongue into her aching womanhood, again and again…
    “Lily, whatever are you reading about there?” Isabel suddenly said, yanking Lily out of her heated daydreams. “Your cheeks are all pink. It must be something terribly scandalous.”
    Lily jerked her head up to find everyone at the table staring at her. Dominic looked pained, but Brendan’s green eyes were narrowed in suspicion.
    “Not at all. It’s merely warm in here this morning,” Lily said carefully. “I was reading an account of Lady Waldegrave’s ball. I doubt she would let anything the least bit scandalous happen in her house.”
    “The old battle-ax,” Dominic muttered. “Wonder what she would say if she knew what her nephew was up to at the Devil’s Fancy last night?”
    “Dominic, dear, I hope you are not getting into trouble at that club of yours already,” Katherine cried. “Remember what happened last time, with the racetrack.”
    Lily sincerely hoped there was
not
trouble at the Devil’s Fancy, not when they were all working so hard to make it a success. She glared at Dominic across the table, until he groaned and buried his face in his hands.
    “Tell me about the ball, Lily, please!” Isabel begged. “Who wore what? Who danced with who? Were any engagements announced? Oh, I do wish we had been invited. I thought we surely would since we saw the Waldegraves at the assembly rooms last month.”
    “Issy, you’re much too concerned with the doings of toffee-nosed snobs like the Waldegraves and theHuntingtons,” Brendan said. He snatched Dominic’s kipper from his plate since it would obviously not get eaten there. “Who needs them?”
    “I am not concerned about them,” Isabel protested. “I just like gowns and parties. So ignore those philistines, Lily, and read to me about the fashions.”
    Lily laughed and bent her head over the paper. “Well, it seems Miss Perkins-Smythe wore white with yellow rosebuds, and Lady Angelina Anderson wore yellow with white rosebuds. The Countess of Salisbury wore a gown of eau de nil velvet and net from Paris, and Miss Chase was clad in pale pink silk with cherry satin trim and a corsage of white velvet roses. And she did become engaged to Lord Hernley, so there you are, Issy—all you could ask for.”
    “And what were the arrangements like?” their mother, the consummate hostess and decorator, asked.
    Lily read aloud about the potted palms and swags of ferns and white hot-house roses, buffet tables laded with lobster patties and stuffed mushrooms, French wines and pink claret punch. Katherine and Isabel started criticizing the decor, and Lily read farther down the column about some of the other guests as she finished her tea. Many of the names she knew from the Devil’s Fancy or the theater, families who held boxes at the Majestic. And no doubt many of their sons indulged in less respectable pursuits with her brothers, in brothels and music halls and such things.
    It always seemed funny to her how the lives of the St. Claires ran parallel to, and sometimes bisected, those of these aristocrats. How they were so intertwined that one could not exist without the other, and yet they were still so vastly far apart. They saw titled aristocrats at theassembly rooms and theater parties and were sometimes even invited to their homes to be shown off as

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