Chosen to Be His Little AngelineBy: Zoe Blake
Chapter One - A Very Foolish Girl
He was staring at her again. Angeline nervously took a large sip of the bubbly drink the hostess called champagne. The cool liquid tickled her nose as it slid down her throat. She could not help but giggle, the inappropriate laugh bringing a blush to her cheek as she once again felt the stranger's intense gaze.
Angeline risked another shy glimpse in his direction. Tall and broad-shouldered, dressed in unrelenting black right down to his cravat, he cut an imposing figure. The tension in his body belied the practiced ease of his casual pose against the pianoforte, his strong angular features made all the fiercer by the dark scowl trained on her. Her heart raced. Everything about him screamed power, money, and disapproval. He knew she was a fraud.
Lord Jasper Blackhurst watched as the girl's cheeks flushed pink, giving her already animated features a pretty glow. The girl had captured his attention from the moment she'd entered the room. It was painfully obvious she did not belong at this jaded gathering. Blackhurst's sharp eyes took in the ill-fitting gown dwarfing her small frame. On an older, more curvaceous woman, the dark purple silk dress with the deep cut bodice would have looked suggestive at best, perhaps even seductive. On this petite sprite with her springy bright blonde curls and large childlike eyes it looked garish.
She was standing in the corner, partially obscured by the fronds of a plant. Her heart-shaped face dipped low, she peeked at the guests through thick eyelashes. From his stance across the room, he could not discern the exact color of her eyes. They were big and dark. Combined with her blonde, ringlet hair and delicate pale skin, they gave her an almost ethereal quality. She was innocence personified, made all the more so by the cynical, inebriated and extremely carnal company surrounding her. Like wolves encircling a lamb, he thought with an equally cynical and carnal smirk.
Blackhurst watched as she took another sip of champagne. He would allow her a little more of the intoxicating drink before he took it away. From the flush on her cheek, the champagne was already having an effect; to imbibe anymore would put her in a dangerous position among these particular guests. Blackhurst grasped his own glass till he heard it crack, feeling his protective instincts rise with his anger.
Lady Shackelton's house parties were infamous for a reason. Once a year, select members of the ton gathered to indulge in a few days of decadent debauchery. After the stifling formality of the season, it was a welcome respite. Unique fantasies and wishes were entertained, guests often switched bed partners and the only rule was discretion. Lady Shackelton had been hosting these little fetes since the death of her much older husband several seasons back.
In a break with ton protocol, Lady Shackelton preferred an informal light repast of champagne, sugared fruit and cheese served in the parlor the first evening with a formal dinner on the second. This created a more intimate setting from the start and allowed guests to approach one another for an introduction without having to stand upon ceremony. The point was moot of course, since most of the guests were acquainted from either their position within the ton or their appearance at this house party over the years.
The real purpose for the informal setting was for guests to choose their first - and probably not their last - bed partner for the evening. Formal dinners lasted for hours and most of the guests were more interested in fellatio and ménage a trios than they were in pheasant and meringue pavlova.
Which begged the question: Who would be foolish enough to bring such an ingénue? Blackhurst surveyed the remaining guests milling about the parlor. He needed to find the fool so he could inform them of their change in bed partners.
Whoever the girl was, she was now his.
* * * * *
"Keep scowling like that and the only skirt you'll flip this eve is Lady Prunella's."
Blackhurst turned a sardonic smile on his longtime friend, Lord Duncan Fairfax. While countless whippings at the hands of English headmasters had long ago broken Duncan of his brogue, his Scottish heritage was still evidenced through his large, almost brutish, body and unruly reddish brown hair.
"There is a better chance of Lady Shackelton finally parting her fair thighs for your hairy arse than there would ever be of me laying with that prune faced dowd," grimaced Blackhurst.