“May I have this dance?” Mr. Westoff bowed over Jessica Standish’s hand. She curtsied politely, glancing quickly over his shoulder to see where Lord Ian had gone. Seeing him bow over Miss Jenkin’s hand Jes knew he would not be asking her for this dance. She smiled. “Of course, Mr. Westoff. It would be my pleasure.”
Jes danced the quadrille from memory, hardly noticing the steps she took. She smiled at the appropriate times, hoping to convince her partner she was paying him mind, but she whenever she passed behind him or out of his view, her eyes searched out Lord Ian. Why do I do this to myself? Pray, it was most likely out of habit rather than any belief that Lord Ian would take notice of her. After all, it was the last ball of the season, and he had yet to even glance in her direction. The dance ended and she curtsied again as Mr. Westoff kissed her gloved hand, before relinquishing her to the care of her aunt, Lady Prescott.
“You may have fooled that dolt, but do not think you fooled me.” Her Aunt Margret fluttered her fan rapidly. “I saw the way you kept seeking Lord Ian out. I have warned you about setting your sights on him. He is a complete rake and would destroy your tenuous status within the ton.”
“It is not as if anything will come of it. He has never even looked in my direction.” Jes could not hide the whine that escaped her lips. Her eyes sought him out again. He conversed with a young woman Jes did not know. Lord Ian pick up a stray hair and tucked it intimately behind the lady’s ear. Another sigh escaped. Lord Ian straightened, his gaze darting around the room. As it came to the side where Jes sat with her aunt, she dropped her eyes to her hands. Slowly bringing her eyes up, she watched him through her lashes.
Her heart pounded as she saw him walking toward her. Just when she thought it might burst from her chest, he stopped I front of her aunt. “Lady Prescott.” Lord Ian bowed. He was so elegant. She dared not look directly at him, for fear he would read her thoughts in her gaze. “I do not believe I have had the pleasure of being introduced to your…” He paused.
“Niece.” Aunt Margret provided. She gave him a bit of a disdainful look—one that would quell any other gentleman. “Lord Ian, may I introduce my niece, Miss Jessica Standish. Her mother, Lady Rachel Standish is my sister.”
Before she could process and truly enjoy what was happening, Jes found herself being led to the dance floor on the arm if Lord Ian. They were in the square with Mr. Beauchamp and Miss Jennings. For the first time this season, Jes found it impossible to look away from her partner. He was everything she had imagined: charming, witty, and beautiful. And at that moment, she knew no other man would ever come close to measuring up.