She touched a finger to the pendant on her chest, inadvertently directing Brand's attention there. "Do you know, my lord, the first time he took my gift from me, I thought it was because he was jealous? I soon found out that wasn't the case when he returned home with new clothes and a full purse. No, he's very pleased I have a generous admirer. The more boring emeralds I get, the better."
His expression now appeared somewhat glazed. She patted his arm and broke his trance. "I've been rambling like a shrew, haven't I? I'm sorry, I shouldn't burden you with my personal problems."
"You, my dear, could never be a shrew," he said. "I'm curious though, why didn't you hand over these pieces with all the rest?"
"I have need for them," she answered shortly. "Please, let's not talk about this anymore. We should hurry and finish this lovely meal. I do believe I hear the orchestra tuning up and I did promise your son a dance." She giggled as she glanced at Mitchell. The boy had stuffed an entire dinner roll in his mouth and his cheeks now bulged like a chipmunk's.
"You promised me a dance as well," reminded Brand. "I've been behaving myself, haven't I?"
She studied him carefully. Lord, he was such a handsome man! Her eyes lingered on his firm, smiling mouth. What would it feel like to kiss his lips? She felt an overpowering urge to know.
Such thoughts sent her mind spinning into confusion. The attraction she felt for him grew with every passing minute she spent in his company. It was an odd feeling, pleasant and yet terrifying at the same time. Never had she felt like this with Werner. She'd never felt like this about anyone before.
Brandon returned her stare with fascination. Her lovely face reflected her warring emotions. She wanted him. He could see it in her eyes for all she might deny it. And Lord, did he want her! Like a sudden storm, he felt the urge to snatch her into his lap and kiss her. Yes, he wanted to kiss her, taste her, feel her tremble in his arms.
To his dismay, he felt himself harden. He casually dropped a hand over his lap to conceal this, for he knew his tight breeches left nothing to the imagination.
"Yes, Brandon," she said, her voice sounding strained, "I suppose you have been behaving yourself at that." She laid a hand on his arm and that mere touch doubled his misery. "Come, my lord, let's dance."
"Uh, no," Brand murmured. "You should give Mitch a turn first. It's only fair since he was the first you promised."
She let go of him with a curt nod. "Very well, Brandon. I guess you might say I'll save the best for last." With that she excused herself.
Brand immediately called for more wine. It took three glasses before he felt it was safe to get up from the table.