A Masked Deception by Mary Balogh

By Mary Balogh

A Masked Deception

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She did not notice her husband's eyes fixed, intrigued, on her face before he crossed the room to escort his mother in to dinner. Margaret had placed Charles to her right, at the foot of the dining table. She had seated Charlotte to his right, hoping that she would not seem too obviously the matchmaker. She watched, satisfied, as they talked together. She hoped that Richard would not object to her sister and his brother developing a tendre for each other. She glanced down the table to find her husband's eyes fixed steadily on her as he listened to the chatter of the woman beside him.

He looked forward to the following night with dread, with excitement, and with anxiety. "Look as if you'd lost your best friend, Bram," said Devin, cutting in on his thoughts. Brampton was recalled to the present, and to his duties as a host, with a start. "Seems to have a way with the ladies," Devin continued, nodding in the direction of Charles Adair. " Lord Brampton was riding early again in the park next morning. He had already galloped the length of the park and back again before he saw Devin Northcott turn his horse in through the gates.

Her greatest hope was that if she used the flirtatious manner, his interest would be aroused and some subconscious memory would be stirred. —that he would look on her with amusement or contempt. She certainly was not prepared for his actual reaction. His whole body froze. Charlotte was almost jerked off her feet with the sudden cessation of movement. Margaret, watching his face intently, could not decipher the expression in his eyes. Her view was hampered by his black mask. But his lips formed a word.

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