An image flashed in her mind, sent by the marquis.
He was in his wolf form, and he was crushing the knight’s ribs under his paws before his viciously sharp canines tore the man’s throat—-
The image vanished, and the marquis murmured, “Lady Soleil? You have something else to say?” He smiled at her, and she could almost imagine his fangs flashing.
I won’t warn you again, milady. His thumb rubbed across her knuckles, his touch possessive, tender, and hot.
It was also extremely distracting, and Soleil had a hard time finding the right words to say. Her attention kept straying to the way the marquis’ touch made her feel. A part of her was lost in a daze.
The Marquis di Lunare, the man fated to share her soul, was holding her hand.
The hopeful look in Sir Reginald’s eyes sent her crashing back to earth, and Soleil swallowed. “Lord Ilie and I have an understanding, sir. I am so sorry if—-”
“There is nothing to apologize for, milady.” His cheeks were flushed with a mixture of resentment and shame, and he was unable to meet her gaze. “I was the one who misunderstood.”
This was her fault, she thought, cringing. News of today’s incident was sure to spread like wildfire, and she wouldn’t be surprised if they were the talk of the town by tonight. The thought made her feel resentful herself, and Soleil unthinkingly tried yanking her hand away.
But the marquis’ grip only tightened, with just enough strength to remind her that she was fighting a futile battle.
Remember what I am, ma lisse. His voice was gentle, but possessiveness still threaded through it.
She ceased her struggle, not because he had reminded her of his otherworldly bloodlines, but because of what he had called her.
He had called her ‘his lily.’
Again, the odd urge to laugh struck her. Did he remember what she was as well? Did he remember that she was, for all intents and purposes, a professional killer?
Yes, I remember, the marquis answered calmly.
Oh! He had read her mind. She had forgotten about that ability of his, curse it.
Sir Reginald was bidding her farewell now, and she mustered a smile.
“Will I see you at the Delsey’s ball tonight?”
Not if he’s there, the marquis said silkily.
“I’m not quite sure,” she said vaguely.
The other man’s smile dimmed, and it was only then that she realized he had seriously carried a torch for her. “Goodbye then,” Sir Reginald said, his normally strong clear voice turning into a mumble unworthy of his stature.
Oh, how dreadfully insensitive she was. Regret filled her as she watched him turn away and leave. She bit her lip hard, wondering if she had been too callous. Maybe she should just go to the Delsey’s ball, after all—-
Over my dead body, ma lisse, the marquis said coolly. Out loud, he asked her politely, “May I join you, milady?” He released her hand to gesture at the chair across her.
She said reluctantly, “Of course,” all the while feeling perversely disappointed at the loss of contact between them. It had to be because he was an otherworlder and thus more seductive than human men, she told herself.
The marquis folded his powerful, elegant length in the dainty chair in front of her, and her resentment flared anew. It was so unfair. His sheer grace should have made him look like an overly fussy fop, but no – it just made him so much—-
Then she noticed what he was casually flipping open.
She mentally screamed as loudly as she could, NO!
The marquis winced, his fingers freezing on the page he had just opened to. “What’s the big deal—-” His eyes widened.
Soleil grabbed her dessert fork, fed herself a tiny slice of cake, and concentrated on chewing it slowly.
He closed the book and returned it to her, smothering a laugh when she practically snatched the book from his hands.
“Your taste in books is surprising, milady,” he murmured wickedly.
Her cheeks turned pink, but she pretended not to hear him and instead fed herself another tiny slice.
“I’m heartbroken, milady. Are you ignoring me?”
She didn’t look at him.
And that was her mistake.
He shifted in his seat, and a moment later she felt his hand settle on her knee.
Her gaze flew to him in shock.
His hand was like a burning tattoo on her skin, making her body quiver, and her knee felt like it was about to turn into jelly any second under his touch.
“Stop it,” she hissed then stopped, realizing she might be heard. She said in her mind, Take your hand off my knee!
But this only made him squeeze her knee, and pleasure that felt both forbidden and painful coursed through her body.
“Please say you are no longer mad that I have let Sir Reginald in our little secret.”
She thought about ignoring him—-
His hand on her knee lifted, only to be replaced by fingers that somehow found a way under her skirt. His hand returned to her knee, and this time bare skin touched bare skin.