Time for another teaser excerpt from True Pretenses! Remember, you can read the complete first chapter and pre-order the book here.
(And an exciting annoucement: the first Lively St. Lemeston book, Sweet Disorder, is in the process of going on sale for 99¢ EVERYWHERE and it’s already kicked in at most retailers! Nook should drop in the next few days.
And now back to your regularly scheduled programming.)
In this scene, Ash has just shaved and Lydia’s into it.
Lydia invited Mr. Cahill for dinner and they stopped at the Drunk St. Leonard so he could change his clothes. To her astonishment, in under twenty minutes he was back in the carriage in breeches, pumps, a gray waistcoat, and a dark coat, his fresh cravat in a knot whose plain serviceability would have embarrassed Jamie and his friends.
“That was fast.”
“Really?” His eyes glinted with curiosity. “Was it too fast? How long do men of your set usually take?”
“Well, I—I don’t know for sure,” she said with the peculiar uncertainty that came from being asked to quantify something one had never given a moment’s thought to. “Father generally took half an hour. Jamie…Jamie always goes up to his room forty-five minutes before the dinner bell, and then we wait fifteen minutes for him. The cooks have started planning dinner accordingly, when he’s at home.”
“What do they do with all that time?” Mr. Cahill asked, fascinated. “Take one set off, shave, put another set on, and off you go. Or do they just have so many clothes it takes that long to choose?”
She rolled her eyes. “Oh, you know how young men are. Jamie can spend half an hour in front of the mirror worrying over his hair.” It was incomprehensible, when he was such a handsome boy.
“Rafe is vain of his hair too. He…” He trailed off.
Lydia’s heart lurched in sympathy—but she was suddenly distracted by something he had said. “You shaved?” Now she could see that the stubble whose progress she had watched throughout the day was gone. She wanted to touch his clean, smooth skin. She wanted it very badly.
He grinned and tilted his head from side to side, exposing the smooth underside of his chin and a sliver of throat above collar and cravat.
Oh, why not? “May I?” She tugged at the fingers of her glove to loosen it.
He frowned in puzzlement at her hand. Then his generous mouth curled up at one corner, slyly. “I promise it’s an even shave, but you can check if you don’t believe me.”
She raised a brow severely. “We’ll see about that.” She ran her hand firmly down one cheek, over his mouth and up the other, sweeping her thumb under his chin. “Hmm. I’ll need to take a closer look.” She slid forward in her seat and tilted his chin up, leaning in to press a kiss to his jaw. She slid her mouth along it. Her lips, more sensitive than her fingertips, could feel the texture of his skin, a patch by his ear where he hadn’t shaved as closely. He smelled like Eau de Cologne and soap.
She felt him swallow. “You can shave me yourself one of these days if you like.”
She was plunged headlong into desperate lust. “Really? I—but what if I cut you?”
“Then I’ll have to go about with sticking plaster on my face, and people will think me clumsy. I imagine the experience would be worth it, don’t you?”