This is a scene-in-progress from Book # 3 “Race Against Time” that is currently in ebook format, but remember it’s not the final cut!
Her dress was bluer than he remembered seeing any color blue before. And it flattered her. Her dark hair, strange green eyes and pouty pink mouth were brightened by the intensity of that blue. He knew he was staring but he didn’t care. She moved. His eyes followed. Such was their dance so far this evening.
Nora poured the brandy into the heavy crystal glasses knowing full well that Tracy watched her every move. More like devoured them to be truthful about it. She could swear she felt his eyes moving down her back. Him touching her at the waist. Squeezing the satin fabric. He had big hands and when they stretched across they reached from one side of her slender body to the other. And they were warm and strong. She imagined how they would feel against her bare skin….
“Trouble with the brandy?” His words snapped her out of her fantasty.
“No.” She recovered quickly. Tracy hadn’t missed a thing and she knew it. And he was teasing her. That damn smile on his face. Like some combination of city sophistication and country charm. It was a heartbreaker. That’s exactly what it was. “Sorry. I like to pour brandy slowly. Something my French governess once told me to do.” She handed him the glass.
Tracy watched her as he took his first sip. “I see. It improves the pleasure of it.”
Nora blushed. Hated herself for it but she turned a deep crimson that infuriated her.
He laughed. Darned if the woman didn’t look even prettier when she turned red. Strange. He had not thought her especially beautiful at first. Striking. Well off no doubt. But not a raving beauty.
And he still couldn’t figure out her age. No one could. 30? At least. 40? Likely. 50? If she was 50, she was the best goddamned 50 year old he’d ever laid eyes on in his life.
No, he thought as he allowed himself to look at her fully once again. He had previously underestimated her. Nora Wells was indeed a true beauty. Her complexion was bright and her features fine and simply lovely. She had a smile that was entirely girlish – whatever the heck her age – and her lips were full and sensuous. His thoughts travelled down that road a little further until he finally sat up straighter and cleared his throat.
“I would be happy to talk about your charity ball.” Tracy thought that was a safe enough subject. Something that would get his mind off of that perfect throat of hers and how the gold cross she wore reflected the light just before the mounds of her breasts above the neckline of her gown. It wasn’t plunging, the way some women wore their dresses, instead it was just a tad below being conservative and yet nowhere near risque. It presented enough of a view of the lady for any man with eyes in his head to know that she had one helluva fine figure….
“Of course.” Nora took a seat across from him. A small table was all that separated their chairs. She appeared a bit nervous tonight even though she was putting an enormous effort into remaining calm and cool. At least on the outside.
“It’s tentatively scheduled for this coming July 13th. I realize that it’s only two months away….”
Tracy waved his hand, “Not a problem. Since it’s for such a good cause I will contact my manager and have him change any previous engagements.”
Nora smiled at him. He was elegant. She had to give him that. “That is very kind of you, Mr. Allen. I’m sure that the director of the orphanage will be happy to hear that a talent such as yourself is so cooperative.”
“I wouldn’t be too quick to do that, Mrs. Wells.”
“Because, you see,” he leaned his big frame forward toward her, “there is a catch.”
She caught her breath in her throat. “A catch? What do you mean?”
“I want to be certain that I’ll be compensated,” he raked his eyes down her body, “so I’d like your word on that.”
Nora couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Was he implying that she bed him in order for him to appear at a benefit for hundreds of parentless children?? She sat up a little straighter and replied, “Mr. Allen, I assure you that the sponsors are well prepared to pay you whatever your usual fee would be. There is no need for your concern.”
Tracy laughed. It was deep and melodious. That voice of his. It couldn’t be anything but marvelous. “Well, thank you, dear Mrs. Wells, I have to admit that I was a little worried on that score.”
She relaxed a little, but still kept her guard up. She knew what he had hinted at. She may be a widow for more than 20 years now but she wasn’t unaware of how men looked at her. Perhaps, she thought, there was one thing that might pour water on his fire. “Good. I’m very happy to hear it. I know many gentlemen of means, Mr. Allen, who are very willing to pay whatever it takes to put on this ball. So you see your money is as they say “in the bank”. “
He laughed again. When all else failed the lady turned high-falootin’. Still. He wondered about her age! “Glad to hear it. And, if you don’t mind my asking, were these gentlemen all friends of the late Mr. Wells?”
Nora smiled sweetly. She had her opening. “Yes, as a matter of fact they were. When Charles and I were married, in 1818, they were all young men in the banking business. Now they are quite well-established.”
Tracy looked at her sharply. “1818? That’s the year you were married?”
“You must’ve been…..16? ….or 15?…..at the time?”
“No, Mr. Allen. I was not. I was 29. My father had begun to joke that I would end an old maid.”
Now it was Tracy’s turn to be left speechless. A little quick addition in his mind meant that this beauty sitting across from him had to now be 55 years old! Impossible! Although, now that he considered it, that would explain why she was so strong-minded and carried herself with such grace. A woman of her years, looking like that, was a walking, talking weapon! Beauty, intelligence and maturity all put together. God, how was he ever going to win this battle?!
“I see.” He finally managed to say. “And I – “
“Mr. Allen that makes me 55 years old. In fact I’ll turn 56 at the end of this month.”
“Please, Mrs. Wells, I meant no disrespect. You are, if I may say so, the most youthful looking woman past 40 I have ever beheld. So pardon my surprise. It was actually a compliment.”
Nora laughed. “No, it was not, Mr. Allen.”
Tracy drained the last of his brandy and set the glass down on the table. He tilted his head and looked at her, answering very slowly. “I promise you it was.”
Nora shook her head. Her thick dark curls moved with elegance. There was not a gray hair in her head. A lady’s maid she had in Paris gave her a special hair rinse made from walnut liquor that made sure of that. “What you’ve been trying to find out since you walked in this room is if I’m young enough for you, and, if I am, would I be willing to share my bed with you tonight.”
At that moment Tracy was glad he’d finished his drink. He hoped the fortification would keep him steady. The woman was right of course – he just wasn’t sure as to how to respond. Normally he didn’t get such a front and center declaration.
Finally, the only thing he could do was come clean. “You’re right.” He looked at her again. Did she get prettier by the minute or was it a trick of the firelight? “And since I do know your age – it doesn’t matter to me. Actually I’m impressed more than ever.”
Nora waited for him to continue. There was no doubt she’d been more blunt with him than any woman of his acquaintance had ever been and knew he was trying to recover from the shock.
“However,” he looked her straight in the eye, “to answer the last part.” He paused for a split second. “You are right. I would be honored to have such a goddess as yourself in bed tonight, Mrs. Wells.”
She set down the glass of brandy she’d barely touched, stood up and covered the distance between them. Placing a hand strategically on either arm of his chair, Nora leaned in until her mouth within an inch of his. “In that case. I suggest you begin calling me Nora.”
In one swift and smooth movement, Tracy had Nora Wells in his arms and scooped up off the floor. They kissed deeply several times before he asked to be pointed in the direction of her bedroom……
That’s it everyone. Sorry to leave you hanging like that. Actually, no I am not because it’s supposed to be a “teaser” after all! Look for more sneak peeks soon!
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