This scene is taken from the first draft, early in the story, but not the opening scene. It underwent some changes during the editing process but the meat is still there. :o)

I've titled this scene: Her first glimpse of him...

A young man of quite astonishing size and good looks approached the men surrounding the foreign minister. He was greeted heartily and handed a glass of champagne by one of Lady Jersey’s many minions—the lady had decided to break with tradition and serve refreshments.

Aurora stared at the boyishly handsome young man. He was dressed rather plainly, she thought, in a jacket of dark green Bath superfine, biscuit colored pantaloons, and plain white waistcoat. His starched white cravat was tied in the Oriental and his curly dark brown hair was in fashionable disarray. But, oh my, did he look magnificent. She supposed he would be absolutely delicious in whatever he chose to wear. He was obviously muscle and not padding. So many gentleman used padding to enhance their appearances.

She wondered what he looked like without all his finery.

Her eyes widened in astonishment. Never, in over three years, had she wondered such a thing. Her first glimpse of the naked male form, as beautiful as that gentleman’s body had been, had had that very unlovely end result.

She found herself wondering what color his eyes were when the gentleman undergoing her perusal happened to glance around the room and catch her eye. Aurora’s eyes were still wide from her inappropriate thought and she blushed furiously when he gave her a questioning look, smiled and raised his glass to her. She turned hurriedly away and forced her breathing to calm. The man could use that smile as a weapon, she thought as she began to fan herself vigorously.

“Rory, dear, do still your fan. You are wreaking havoc on your charming coiffure,” her companion admonished gently.

“I apologize, Ellie,” she mumbled. She looked out of the corner of her eye at the young man who had so upset her equilibrium. He was gone. She made a disappointed sound in the back of her throat before she could stop herself.

“Looking for me?” came a very deep voice from somewhere behind her.

Aurora turned her head and looked up at the large man standing in the shadows. She attempted to stare him down—which was a difficult task considering he was standing, she was sitting, and she couldn’t see his face very well. She could tell he was grinning, however.

“Get rid of your companion,” he said low enough that Miss Elliot couldn’t hear.

“Whatever for?” Aurora asked sharply. Ellie turned her head slightly and frowned at Aurora’s tone. Miss Glendenning smiled innocently and patted her hand in a soothing gesture. Placated, Ellie returned her attention to the dowager on her other side.

“I would talk to you” was his reply.

Aurora stuck her little button of a nose in the air. “That would not be wise, sir, as we have not been properly introduced.” She turned away from him and pretended to study the other guests.

She heard a rustling of greenery behind her and assumed he had left her in peace. She really didn’t care for the way his presence affected her breathing. Such feelings were dangerous. Feelings like the ones she was currently enduring ultimately resulted in illegitimate offspring—as she knew all too well.


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