Iliad Lane, Book 1
He may wear a mask, but he can’t hide his feelings.
Audrina Forsythe is the most in-demand flautist in London, and not only because she’s fabulously talented—no, she’s on everybody’s guest list because of the mysterious masked man determined to woo her with his beautiful singing voice. Audrina has never resented anyone the way she does this arrogant crasher…
…Except, perhaps, William Whitleigh, the Marquess of Brinburgh. He’s handsome, charming, and entitled, and four years ago grievously hurt the tender feelings of a young, lovestruck Audrina. Now William regrets his actions, but how can he make amends to the young woman who won’t even look his way?
When the Masked Musician—along with a bitter, scorned suitor—pushes them together, William sees his chance to make things right. And Audrina starts to realize that the man she considered her bitterest foe may just be the man of her dreams…
He said nothing, enjoying the way her irritation with him visibly grew with each passing second he held his silence. She was so easy to look at, every inch of her glowing and alive and radiating warmth. A man often felt the desire to touch beautiful women; they were soft and sleek, scented and so innately sensual. What he wanted from Audrina surpassed those basic desires and created a crevasse of aching need that threatened to rend his heart in two.
Bedding her would be thrilling. It would also likely destroy him.
William couldn’t wait.
“Shall I sing for you again?” he asked innocently.
“But there’s another verse.”
“Would that there was only the one.”
He made a tsk-ing sound. “Now, is that any way to speak about Mrs. Robinson’s lovely tune?”
The audience laughed, blatantly enjoying the byplay between the two of them.
Audrina shot them another wintry glare. “The authorship of the song is not what’s in question at the moment. It’s your presence.” She angled her chin slightly as she chastised him. “Mrs. Robinson likely wouldn’t appreciate your rendition of her song.”
“Mrs. Robinson would love it. My voice is flawless,” he arrogantly retorted.
“Or she’d frown on your purpose here.”
Chuckling, he propped his hands on his thighs and pushed up from his kneeling position. “It’s a love song, Miss Forsythe. Love songs are their own purpose.” As he stood, he heard a wave of excited whispering flow through the crowd, but what they whispered about didn’t matter to him. “Has no one ever sung you a love song before?” he murmured so only she would hear.
She blushed. She did not answer his question.
Instead, she held her instrument between them, gripping it tightly at its base as if she meant to take a swing at his head. Perhaps a clubbing-by-flute would knock some sense into him, but the situation had already devolved so far into the ridiculous, William doubted it mattered anymore.
His grin widened as he took a step backward, noting that she sagged in relief, obviously believing he was about to make his exit. “You should really hear the second verse, Miss Forsythe.”
She made a face. “I’d rather not.”
He took another step back, then another. “It goes on for a bit about braving threats and facing peril in order to love you—quite dramatic stuff, really. I think I’ll sing it for you.”
“Please restrain yourself.”
“Oh, I won’t sing it now, Miss Forsythe. Then you’d have nothing to look forward to.”
2011 © by Edie Harris