“I would be grateful if you stayed away from the Viscount d’Arque,” Godric said as he led his wife onto the dance floor. He mentally winced at his own stiff tone, but in this matter he could not seem to see reason.
She was his wife and he’d damn well not take her straying lying down.
She cocked her head, looking more curious than outraged. “Is that an order?”
He immediately felt a fool. “No, of course not.”
The music began, the movement of the dance drawing them apart before he could explain further. Godric inhaled deeply as he paced, trying to subdue the incredible wrath that had overtaken him at the sight of Margaret with d’Arque.
When the dance brought them together again, he murmured low so the other dancers could not overhear, “I know it’s hard for you, wanting a child, but this isn’t the way.”
“What way do you mean?” she asked carefully. Too carefully.
Nonetheless, he could do naught but answer truthfully. “With d’Arque as your lover.”
For a second her eyes flashed with wild hurt before she could shield the emotion, and he realized he’d just dug himself into a hole.
“You think I’m a whore,” she said.
A very deep hole.
But she whirled away, caught in the steps of the dance. This time he watched her anxiously, this wife he knew so little about. Had Clara ever thought she’d been so grievously insulted, she would’ve wept. Or perhaps stomped off. He truly didn’t know because he never would’ve gotten into a discussion like this in the first place with Clara. The very idea was ludicrous.
Margaret in contrast held her head high, her cheeks flagged with a becoming rose color. She looked like a goddess enraged. A goddess who might, if they were alone, assault his person—the thought of which unaccountably aroused him.
When the dance brought them together again, they both opened their mouths at once.
“I never meant—” he began.
“You convict me without trial,” she hissed over him, “and on pathetically thin evidence.”
“You were flirting, madam.”
“And if I was?” she asked, her eyes widening dramatically. “If every woman who flirted in a ballroom were deemed a slut, then all but nuns and babes would be thus branded. Do you truly think I meant to start an affair with the viscount?”
He hesitated a fraction of a breath too long.
Her beautiful brows snapped together. “You are the most maddening man.”
They were drawing stares, but he couldn’t let this bit of outrageousness pass.
“I? I am maddening? I assure you, my lady, that you are the maddening one. I’ve never caused a scene in a public venue before in my—”
“And now you’re on your second,” she flung back.
A childish retort, but also deeply annoying, as she managed to get it off just before they were forced to separate. Which, naturally, gave her the last word.
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