“I know you are not inclined to dancing, but to know that you are present will give me enough of an encouragement to refuse Lord Irving when he seeks me out,” Dinah continued, a little breathlessly. “You may have to sit with me in the shadows thereafter, so that I might hide from Lady Whitehaven’s wrath!”
He laughed softly, feeling the tension that had been swarming over him beginning to ebb away. “I should be glad to sit with you.”
“You still do not believe you can dance, Whitehaven?”
Dinah’s voice was gentle yet curious, her eyes no longer filled with tears but rather with a wondering that Grayson knew he had to answer.
“My dratted leg will not permit me to even walk at a smooth pace, so I dare not even attempt dancing,” he told her honestly, aware now of how her thumb was running back and forward over the back of his hand, sending shivers running up his arm. “I fear I would make a cake of myself and give the ton some fresh gossip with which they might keep their rumor mills running!”
Her eyes rounded just a little. “You mean to say then, that you have not even attempted to dance?” she asked him, suddenly pulling her hands from his and rising to her feet. “That will not do at all, Whitehaven!”
For a moment, Grayson thought that she was truly upset with him and was about to leave the room entirely, only to see her outstretched hand and the smile on her face.
“We shall have to change that,” she told him firmly. “Come now, we shall try the waltz. The room is large enough for us to have a small turn or two about the floor, I think, and you shall prove to yourself, Whitehaven, that you can very easily dance, should you so wish it!”
Not quite certain what she meant by such a thing, Grayson found his hand reaching out for hers, pushing himself to his feet and feeling his heart slam furiously into his chest as he did so. He had never permitted himself to try to dance, believing that his leg would let him down, but now with Dinah’s insistence that he at least attempt it, he found himself almost eager to do so. The way she stepped into his arms, the closeness of her body to his, had Grayson’s whole frame tingling with the awareness of her, and he had to force himself to look away, looking past her shoulder so that he would not look down into her face. What would happen if he did such a thing, Grayson did not even want to imagine.
“There we go,” Dinah murmured, her breath whispering across his cheek. “Now, imagine there is music. I shall hum some, if you wish it?” She laughed. “Although I cannot promise to be in tune!”[email protected]@@@[email protected]@@@@=======
“I am certain you will be better than I,” he told her, his voice a little gruff as he tried to reign in his emotions. “And might I apologize for being so poor a partner, Dinah.”
She laughed again, her hand tightening in his. “We have not even begun yet, Whitehaven,” she teased. “You cannot apologize for something you have not done! Come now, let us begin.” So saying, she began to hum a waltz and then, giving him a small nod, took a small step to one side, encouraging him to follow suit.
Quite how Grayson managed to place his feet into the correct positions, he did not know, but for some reason, he found himself able to waltz without his leg paining him overly much. He did not step on Dinah’s toes, did not fall or stumble, and yet his brow furrowed so heavily with concentration that Dinah’s humming was interrupted by her giggles.
Surprised, he looked up from where he had been looking down at his feet, coming to a sudden stop.
“You need only look at me,” she told him, laughing. “Your brow is quite creased with concentration, and your eyes are such that they fix themselves between us, so that you can watch your feet instead of watching your partner.” Stepping a little closer, Grayson saw the smile on her face fade away, only to be replaced with a sudden, sharp look of awareness. “Look at me only,” she said again, softer this time. “And try again.”
The humming began again and Grayson began to move around the room, looking down into Dinah’s eyes and becoming more aware of her than ever before. The beauty of her gentle features crashed into his heart, his hand tightening in hers as he held her gaze. There was a gentle smile on her face that sent warmth spiraling into his heart until he did not even think about what he was doing. His leg did not seem to pain him in the least and the worries about his debts continued to fade away.
All there was at the present was Dinah. Dinah, who was his everything and yet whom he had to keep pushing from his mind and heart. She was so wonderful, so beautiful, and so pure in her urge to do what was right. He did not deserve her and yet the desire to be close to her, to be everything to her, would not leave him.
Grayson jerked his attention back to Dinah, realizing that they had come to a stop and that Dinah was now looking at him with a peculiar expression on her face. She was no longer humming, and they were no longer dancing. Her cheeks were a little flushed, her eyes bright and fixed upon his own, making Grayson swallow hard.
“Thank you, Dinah,” he said, clearing his throat, letting go of her hands and stepping back. Bowing low, as though they were at a dance, he reached forward and waited for her to plac
e her hand in his. Lifting it as he might do at a ball, he pressed his lips to the back of her hand and felt his heart roar in both delight and frustration. Frustration that he was not kissing her lips, as he so desperately wanted to, but delight that he had behaved with such gentlemanly manners.
“Thank you,” she replied, her lips curving into a gentle smile now. “I hope I have proved to you that you can dance, Whitehaven.”
He nodded and let go of her hand. “Indeed you have, Dinah,” he told her. “And I will have one of your waltzes this evening, if you will permit it?” The look of astonished delight on her face made him smile, taking pleasure in her happiness.
“Thank you, Whitehaven. That would be quite wonderful,” she replied, her hands clasped together at her heart.
“I thank you, Dinah.”
“As I thank you,” Dinah replied, her heart seeming to swirl with nothing other than sheer delight at the look on Lord Whitehaven’s face. “You dance quite wonderfully, Whitehaven, truly.”
This was the first dance of the evening and to have stepped out onto the floor with Lord Whitehaven had brought Dinah so much happiness that she was quite certain that her heart would burst. There were now a good few whispers going about the ballroom, but Dinah ignored them all with ease. Lord Whitehaven had not been seen to have danced before, and so the ton had taken great notice of him. Most likely, now, Lord Whitehaven would have a good deal of interest from other young ladies – or their preying mothers – who would have spotted Lord Whitehaven’s waltz and wondered if this meant that he was now willing to court a young lady of his own choosing.
“They will all come after you now, you know,” she told him, accepting the offer of his arm and walking from the dance floor with him. “They will all be seeking you out.” This was said with a lighthearted smile, which Dinah did not really feel. She did not like the idea of Lord Whitehaven being pursued so, although she could not bring herself to admit as to why that might be.
“I do not think I should care for any of them, however,” Lord Whitehaven told her, sending a spiral of relief through her. “They only see my title rather than the gentleman I truly am.” A wry smile was sent in her direction. “In that, Dinah, I believe you are the only lady who has seen into the very depths of my heart and, no doubt, finds me greatly wanting.”