Corey McFadden

Corey McFadden by With Eyes of Love

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Authors: With Eyes of Love
to practicing striding about looking purposeful, and now you tell me I mince.”
    “Well, to be fair, I can’t say I’ve ever seen you mince, sir,” she said laughing.
    “I can’t tell you how deeply relieved I am to hear you say that. Thank you for putting my mind to rest on that point. Although, I do not believe I shall ever be able to put one foot in front of the other in your presence again. I shall be so paralyzed at the thought of inadvertently mincing, I’ll fall flat on my face. Would that be worse than mincing, by the way? Falling down, I mean.”
    “You are impossible, sir!”
    “Please don’t tap me with your fan. I am quite tired of being tapped by lady’s fans.”
    “Oh, I’m not allowed to use my fen. My aunt says I hold it like a cow would. Most unacceptable, she says.”
    “I have my strong suspicions that your aunt has never seen a cow hold a fan. Still if you don’t care to use it, that’s fine with me. Dreadful invention, ladies’ fans. The very plague of gentlemen.”
    Now he did move his hand, and turned, leaning his back against the balustrade. She could see his eyes even better now, in the warm light cast by the long French windows. Big beautiful blue eyes, made larger by his lenses.
    “And what shall you do if one of the puffed-up popinjays begs for your hand in marriage, Miss Quinn?" he asked her, smiling.
    “I shall decline with feigned regret, sir,” she said, with a loud dismissive sniff.
    “To what end, may I ask?”
    “Not that it is any of your business, but I prefer to go home, sir, to live out my life in quiet amiability with my family in the country.”
    “That does sound rather enviable, at that.”
    “Now you mock me, sir.”
    “Indeed, I do not. I should above all like to return to the country, to live out my life in amiable pursuits.”
    “But I thought...” she stopped, confused by the turn of conversation.
    “What did you think?”
    “Caroline said....”
    “What did Caroline say?”
    “Why nothing at all, actually. I can’t think why her name popped into my head,” Elspeth said, reddening. It was ill done of her to tell tales on her cousin, however well-deserved.
    “Elspeth!”
    Elspeth jumped at the sound of her aunt’s strident tone. Her heart sank as she turned her head to find Aunt Bettina bearing down on them like a ship rigged for battle.
    “I’ve been looking high and low for you, gel. And here I find you skulking about out here, quite monopolizing poor Mr. Thorpe. My apologies again, sir, for my niece’s forward behavior.”
    He made a slight bow to Mrs. Quinn. “I can assure you, madam, Miss Quinn’s deportment has been decorum itself,” he said coolly. “And, again, it is I who have been monopolizing her, not the other way around.”
    “You are kindness itself, sir, to say so. Just what I would expect from a gentleman such as yourself. Still, I know what I see. Come along, gel. We’re going home.”
    Elspeth’s heart gave another lurch. “Is the ball at an end already?” she asked.
    “Not for a good number of hours yet, you silly gel. But I find I have the headache, and I need you to see to it at home.” Her hand closed on Elspeth’s arm like a vise and she felt herself good and trapped. “Mr. Thorpe,” Aunt Bettina went on, turning her attention to him, “I have convinced Caroline she must stay so that we do not offend Lady Dowling with a too-hasty departure. Caroline, of course, is frantic to come home and minister to my pain, but I’ll hear none of it. Mrs. Hastings has kindly agreed to see her home in her carriage, but I’m sure I can count on you to keep an eye on her for me, can’t I?"
    If it was all Elspeth could do to keep from rolling her eyes at this speech, Mr. Thorpe was not quite so circumspect. Eyebrow cocked, expression dubious, he made no reply, merely sketching a bow so slight as to be nearly an insult.
    Squeezing her niece’s arm, Aunt Bettina nearly yanked Elspeth forward, propelling her to the doors

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