Henrietta heaved a sigh of relief as Braydon sauntered back to the bride and groomâ€™s head table. â€œDonâ€™t encourage him,â€ she hissed under her breath to her friend, Percy.
Percy shook his elegant blond head. â€œDarling, Henny. Men like Braydon Mason donâ€™t need encouragement. They thrive on any sort of challenge.â€
Henrietta sniffed. â€œAs long as he doesnâ€™t consider me one. I was warned he fancies himself quite the ladiesâ€™ man. He was raised in a brothel, of all places.â€
Percy laughed out loud, causing a few of the guests to look their way, wondering if they had missed a good joke. â€œI donâ€™t know if I ought to envy the bloke or pity him. Oops, donâ€™t look now, but here he comes.â€
Sure enough, Henrietta looked up to see Braydon making a bee-line for their table. She rose before he reached them, scanning the room for the nearest exit, but only made it two steps before he caught her arm. She glanced back, horrified to see he held her shawl and her reticule in one large, sun-browned hand.
There was no mistaking the teasing glint in his dark eyes. She tossed her head proudly. â€œNot at all. I was just â€¦â€ She glanced around, seeking an excuse for her attempt to flee. â€œI was just going for another glass of Champagne.â€
â€œGreat idea. I could use a beer.â€ Before she knew it, her hand was tucked in the crook of his elbow and secured there with his free hand. The warmth of his clasp sent unwanted tingles of awareness up her arm and beyond.
Henrietta felt the curious gaze from more than a few pairs of eyes following their progress, and much as she wanted to pull away and tell Braydon Mason to keep his filthy hands to himself, she reminded herself there was a time and a place for everything. She was the newcomer here, and something of a curiosity to the locals.
â€œâ€™Nother beer, Bray?â€ the bartender greeted him.
â€œAnd Champagne for the lady, Mac.â€
â€œComing right up.â€
â€œThank you,â€ she said, accepting the glass Braydon held her way, relieved when he released her to pick up their drinks from the bar.
â€œMy pleasure.â€ The way he watched her over the rim of his glass implied his pleasures were vast and varied. And that he wasnâ€™t above sharing.
Two could play at that game!
She leaned against the bar, not taking her eyes from him. â€œI hear the women in town are all wondering who will be the next Mason brother down the aisle, and with which lucky lady.â€
â€œIâ€™ve got four other brothers in the running. Iâ€™ll sit that race out.â€
â€œDonâ€™t be saying that too loudly,â€ Henrietta said. â€œI canâ€™t bear the sight of female tears.â€
â€œOne more thing we have in common.â€
â€œI wasnâ€™t aware we had anything in common, Mr. Mason.â€
â€œI told you. Braydon.â€ He reached forward and tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear with an easily familiarity that annoyed her. She went to bat his hand away, but he caught her hand in his and raised it to his mouth. Before she could jerk free his tongue made the most delicious warm, hot swirls across her palm at the same time his thumb stroked the sensitive underside of her wrist.
Pulling her hand away was the furthest thing from her mind.
Instead, she dashed her glass of Champagne in his face.
copyright 2019 Kathleen Lawless