Duchess of Sin
too real. Her eyes widened, as if she sensed his sudden
     lust and was startled by it.
” he cursed, pounding his fist against the sill. A splinter drove into his skin, yet he welcomed the sting. It was better
     than the burn of a desire he had to suppress.
    Lady Killinan had hired him at a better wage than he had ever made in Dublin before. She admired his work. He needed the job;
     yet surely if he was wise he would refuse it and never see her again. She was a complication he did not need, not in his precarious
     position. She could never discover what he was doing in Dublin.
    He threw himself onto his narrow bed and covered his face with his hands. His neighbors were into their reconciliation phase,
     moaning and setting their cheap bedframeto creaking. He laughed ruefully at the lustful sounds, which only reminded him what he could never have with the beautiful
     Lady Killinan. But he couldn’t help imagining what she would feel like under his touch, what she would taste like. What her
     body looked like under the layers of fashionable silks and laces, and how she would moan against his mouth.
    He had long suspected Dublin was hell. Now he was sure of it.

Chapter Eight
    A nna, dear, is there something amiss with your glove?”
    “Hmm?” Anna glanced at her mother, who stood beside her as they perched on the Fitzwalters’ grand marble staircase, waiting
     for their turn to enter the ballroom. Despite the cold winter night outside, the imposing house was steamy-warm due to the
     crowds packed onto the stairs and jammed into the foyer below. Their high-pitched chatter bounced off the marble floors and
     ornately plastered walls. Tulle ruffles, tall plumes, and overly starched cravats were everywhere.
    But Anna didn’t notice it at all. She hadn’t even realized she was plucking at the tiny pearl buttons of her silk glove.
    “No, nothing is wrong at all,” she said and tucked her hands in the satin folds of her white gown.
    “Are you sure about that?” Katherine sighed and smoothed her own silver-gray skirts. “I knew it was a mistake to come here.
     You should be at home resting.”
    “If I rested any longer I would scream! Caro insists on reading me tales of gruesome old Celtic battles at allhours. They give me nightmares. I had to escape from her, and where better than at a ball?”
    Katherine gave a strange little smile, her eyes suddenly the soft, warm blue of a summer stream. “Once she begins her drawing
     lessons next week, she will have no time to pester you.”
    “So she has given in to the inevitability of more lessons?”
    “Oh, yes. She even seems to be looking forward to them. I am sure she will be even more so when she meets Monsieur Courtois.”
    “I’m looking forward to it myself. I asked Rose about him, and she started giggling madly. All the maids do that. He must
     be quite intriguing.”
    “He is that, for certain. I think he will be a very interesting addition to our household.” The smile on Katherine’s lips
     deepened, as if she had a secret.
    Anna felt suddenly suspicious. Her mother thought the new teacher “interesting”? What could that mean? And why were her cheeks
     so pink?
    “I can’t wait to meet him,” Anna said, and meant it. Maybe this small domestic drama would distract her from Adair. He kept
     popping into her head at the most inconvenient moments. She even dreamed of him at night, the most unsettling visions of him
     lying next to her in bed, whispering in her ear. His hand sliding slowly up her leg beneath her chemise, hot friction of skin
     against skin…
    She plucked at the glove button again, only to drop it at her mother’s glance. She wondered if he could possibly be at the
     ball tonight. Jane had said he would appear more in Society. But even if he was, if she saw him, what would she do about it?
    Just how bold was she feeling?
    They finally advanced a few steps, trying not to trod on the elaborate train of the lady ahead of them.

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