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Fiona lifted her loose mane of hair off her shoulders, hoping for a touch of coolness in the humid air of New Orleans. She hated these Society balls. At least tonight, a light breeze carried the sweet smell of magnolias and honeysuckle from the garden around the corner of the veranda.

“Exposing your neck like that makes me want to kiss it.”

She jumped and spun around, her long hair whipping across her face, and then gaped. Almost as if she had conjured him, the intriguing man she had noticed earlier on the dance floor stood only a few feet behind her.

He smiled. “I did not mean to startle you, Mademoiselle Gordon.”

He knew who she was? Finally finding her voice, she managed, “You did not—I was lost in thought. How did you know my name?”

Taking two steps toward her, he reached over and brushed strands of her hair from her face, the backs of his fingers grazing her cheekbone. The light touch was tantalizing as was his scent—soap and leather and him—and Fiona suddenly became aware of how very close he stood and how very isolated it was in this corner of the veranda. She shivered in the warm air, a strange tingle of anticipation washing over her. His eyes, so dark they looked black in the dim light, glimmered, as though he knew the effect he was having. His mouth quirked up in that little half-grin again. This was so totally improper that if Fiona had any sense of propriety, she would step around him and get back into that well-lit room before her reputation was completely ruined. And yet…

The Bayou Prince

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