...“You may need to look for me.”
The words echoed in his head. Martin had spoken so casually, but Rys should have guessed his lover had not been strictly referring to the crush of people who attended such functions.
A smile teased the edges of his mouth. An honest to goodness search. Definitely interesting.
He turned on his heel. The back garden and the balcony were out of the question. A light rain had just started to fall when his carriage had pulled up to the tidy mansion on the outskirts of Mayfair. Just to be certain, he paused as he passed the card room, but he knew the room would hold no one of interest.
No, not the general areas of the house. He would need to look someplace more…private.
The trace of frustration that had seeped into his veins when he’d entered the ballroom was now gone. In its place was the distinct spark of excitement. Of anticipation. Of the added thrill of the hunt.
And to think he had thought staid, old Lady Edgecomb’s ball would be a thoroughly dull affair.
Deciding it best to avoid any diligent footmen, he slipped through a narrow door along the corridor. While he’d been to the house a time or two in the past, he had never before strayed beyond the ballroom. But all homes in Mayfair had similar qualities, including his own. A narrow door was akin to a sign that read Servants, and this one—he caught himself from stumbling on the first step in the dark passageway—led upstairs.
One hand before him bracing for the door, he went up the stairs. When his fingers encountered cool wood, he paused and pressed his ear to the door. Silence.
The door opened soundlessly on well well-oiled hinges, revealing a corridor lit by gleaming brass sconces stationed at regular intervals along the walls. Should he go right or left?
His attention stopped on the partially open door across the corridor and down a bit, the room beyond it dark.
A bit of suspicion furrowed his brow. Would Martin have made it that easy?
No way to know unless Rys checked that room.
Plush rugs silenced his footsteps as he crossed the corridor, his blood pounding with an invigorating mixture of excitement and danger and the possibility of victory.
His senses on full alert, he hesitated just the barest bit as he crossed the threshold, then stopped a couple of paces inside the room and gave his eyes a moment to adjust. A pool of golden light spilled from the corridor, but otherwise the room was dark. He could just make out the outline of a settee and a spindle-legged chair. Likely a sitting room, and it felt distinctly empty.
Obviously Martin had not made it that easy.
His lips quirked. He would have it no other way.
He left the sitting room and proceeded down the corridor. Should he check the doors on the left or right first? A systematic search or a more random one and hope luck would be on his side? Usually was. If not, he likely wouldn’t still be standing at the ripe old age of—he quickly checked his pocket watch—now five and twenty.
A large hand closed around his forearm and yanked sharply. The next thing he knew, he was pressed face-first against a wall, wrists held at the small of his back. A body even harder and stronger than his own covered him from behind...
© Ava March
Author: Ava March
Publisher: Amber Allure
It’s the eve of Mr. Rys Palmer’s 25th birthday. A significant birthday, for it’s when he’ll come into his majority and gain full control of the inheritance from his obscenely wealthy grandfather. But the promise of a fortune isn’t what gets Rys’s blood pumping.
Mr. Martin Trent’s well aware of his lover’s propensity for thrills. After four years together, he knows just how to indulge Rys without risking either of their reputations or their necks. But clearly Rys’s taste for more than a hint of danger has rubbed off on him. Beyond reckless to ask Rys to meet him at a formal ton ball to give Rys his gift. Yet Martin can’t resist the opportunity to give his lover a birthday he’ll never forget...