Jude brand

Common Ground

Her only inheritance is a Roman ruin. His only passion is antiquities...until now.

Common Ground cover

While her aunt was making polite conversation, Amaryllis gaped. The polished young gentleman in his impeccable evening clothes was far removed from the dog-walker she had met three days before. She heard none of the conversation until Aunt Sessiletyn said, sharply, "Amaryllis, pay attention."

"I beg your pardon." She curtseyed to Mr. Bo— Lord Rowan's father, whose name her aunt must have spoken while she was woolgathering.

He bowed. "Miss Raven, I understand you and my son are acquainted."

Aunt's gasp told her that she had not made the connection between Cassandra's encounter in the park and her recognizing a young man to whom she had not been properly introduced. I will hear about this tomorrow. "Yes, my lord. I...ah—"

"Miss Raven, are you engaged for the next dance," Lord Rowan said, before she could complete her sentence.

"I-I think so." She fumbled at her dance card, attached to her wrist by a twisted golden cord.

He took it from her and opened it. "Alas, you are. But see, the supper dance is still open. With your permission, I shall write my name there."

"My daughter has no remaining dances, Lord Rowan, but I'm sure—"

"My own fault. I came late, and must pay the price of tardiness." The musicians played a few bars, signaling the start of the third set. Lord Whitebeam and his son took their polite leave as Amaryllis's partner arrived to claim her. He was one of the youths who had attended the houseparty, a Mr. Arnold, but for the life of her, she could not remember anything about him.

He only stepped on her toes thrice during the boulanger.

When Lord Rowan came to claim her, she found herself unaccountably shy. The easy manner that had seemed so natural with plain Mr. Boothsby was completely unsuitable with Lord Rowan. As she took his arm so he could lead her out, she thought how different the fine worsted of his tailed coat was from the well-worn frieze jacket he'd worn in the park. He hardly seemed the same man.

It was a reel, a dance she had learned as a child, but to livelier music than the musicians played. Still, it brought back memories of happier days. Once, as they crossed in the center of the lines, he said, "You look happy."

The next time they crossed, she replied, "I am. I've always enjoyed dancing."

"I never have," he replied as they circled, back to back. "Until now."

He is flirting with me. Amaryllis could not decide whether to be insulted or thrilled. She had hoped they would be friends, and friends did not flirt.

Did they?

ISBN 978-1-60174-214-8
Published by Uncial Press.
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