A Masked Deception by Mary Balogh

By Mary Balogh

A Masked Deception

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They were closer than she had expected. Devin was staring up into the treetops, Richard had his head bent to hear something that Charlotte was saying. Margaret stood still, waving her fan slowly in front of her face, looking over its top. Richard looked up. She had never really expected him to remember her. 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.

Margaret found it impossible to concentrate on any of her activities that day. She went shopping with Charlotte late in the morning. Charlotte had been complaining that she was wearing the same clothes too frequently and would soon be labeled as a poor country miss if she wore them once more. " They had the carriage drop them on Bond Street and walked its length, visiting the various modiste establishments and milliners. They stopped frequently to talk to various lady acquaintances and curtsied to several gentlemen.

My poor dear," he had said. " "Yes, Richard," she had replied, "but it is Charlotte I am really concerned about. " "I shall take you there another evening," he had said, smiling gently into her eyes, unaware of the somersaults his expression was causing her stomach and heart to perform. "That would be nice, Richard," she had replied. And then she could have sworn that her stomach and heart changed places when he leaned slightly toward her. She was certain that he was about to kiss her. But he merely put back a strand of hair that had worked loose from the braids that were still coiled around the back of her head; then he laid gentle fingertips against one of her cheeks for a moment.

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