Irish Noble and Rogue – Ella Edon

Forgive me, dear lady, but I could not help observing from across this crowded room that you are not enjoying yourself,” D’Arcy Dancer dared to say to the stunning woman who was already engaged by another. The woman, who he knew to be the Season’s most sought after debutant, Cecily Anderson-Reese, turned towards him and smiled. She looked more interested in him than the man on her arm. Cecily’s smile lit up the room. This surprised D’Arcy Dancer, the charming and desperately handsome Irish rogue who had been the talk of the London social scene since he arrived several months earlier in the fall of 1819. It was now well into February of 1820, and although he had made an impression, he had not made many friends. His short, dark hair and crystalline blue eyes darted around the place, making the young ladies at the ball, most of whom had been trussed up tightly in their beautiful gowns, nearly swoon. “My dear fellow,” said Lord Nunn, the gentleman on whose arm Cecily was leaning. “I daresay that is none of your affair. Now please, sir, for the sake of propriety, leave us in peace.” To D’Arcy, Lord Nunn appeared as a thin and wiry sort of chap, the sort of Englishmen described as handsome. However, to an Irishman, he seemed like a delicate reed who could be blown over with a feather. He was terribly thin, and standing beside him made D’Arcy feel frightfully strong. D’Arcy glanced at the thin frame and somewhat blotchy face of this fellow and smiled brilliantly. “‘My dear fellow?’” he said, chuckling.

“It seems someone is mired in the muck of social convention. I was under the impression that balls were intended for general merriment. Do you dispute this assertion?” “I do not know you, my dear fellow, and I am not interested in your opinion.” “Very well, my dear fellow,” said D’Arcy. “I shall not speak further to you. However, this vision of loveliness on your arm may be permitted to make up her own mind about the desirability of conversing with me, would you not agree?” “Now see here, old sock,” said Lord Nunn. “This vision of loveliness has been escorted here under my protection and I plan to keep it that way. I have no idea who you are or by what means you secured an invitation, but I shall be forced to take matters a step further if you do not depart forthwith.” D’Arcy Dancer looked at Cecily, who was smiling coquettishly at him, making sure her wraith-like companion was unable to see. One of her eyebrows raised and she made it clear that he was invited to follow up with her soon.

D’Arcy smiled and turned away. Although he did not know this, ten of the finest ladies in the room had observed this colloquy and all of them were keen to make the acquaintance of the handsome and charming newcomer they had been hearing so much about. For the fact of the matter was that London society had been in the doldrums since the death of King George III and its requisite mourning period. Consequently, things were dreary, and very little had happened since the Prince Regent had been forced to take life more seriously. The period of mourning was still in force, although these balls, for some reason, seemed to fall outside the purview of the mourning period. Music was drearier, conversation was muted, and voices were rarely raised. Ennui began to creep through the highest ranks of society, and when ennui sets in, there follows gossip. And D’Arcy was the subject of a great deal of speculation. He had some contacts in society, but mainly he was the object of interest because he was very handsome, very charming, and utterly unknown. A tall, dark stranger in the frightfully in-bred community of London’s elite was as welcome as a slab of steak to a pack of wild dogs.

D’Arcy, who rarely missed subtle signs from ladies, particularly those who are charming and pretty, smiled and made his way to the orchestra. They had just finished playing one of the quadrilles, and so he was able to engage the leader in conversation, something that was frowned upon in good society. “I say, Little Chip,” said D’Arcy jovially, “this is a rather dull affair. Haven’t you anything livelier to play?” “My dear D’Arcy,” laughed Cipriani Potter, the distinguished composer and pianist who was referred to by all and sundry as ‘Little Chip.’ “Surely you must know that the period of mourning is still in effect, and none of us can risk attracting the wrath of the older generation, many of whom are ranged around the dance floor. It seems to be their primary aim that none of the young people have any fun at all.” “I suppose that is so,” said D’Arcy. “But it puts a devil of a pall on the goings on. Now, I know you to be a great student of character, and I know you to be one of the most observant men in the country. What do you know of that lovely creature yonder?” “Miss Cordelia de Montmorency? Surely you know about her already,” said Little Chip.

Cordelia de Montmorency was one of the most beautiful women in London, who also had a reputation for being terribly wicked. Her curling eyelashes surrounded huge blue eyes that seemed to make every man in the place drool, and her figure was the envy of nearly every woman. “No. The young lady with the chestnut tresses and the pale blue gown. The beauty who is encumbered with that dullard, Lord Nunn.” “I know very little,” said Little Chip. “I know her name and her station, but nothing of her character. I believe she has just come out this Season.” “And what is her name and station?” enquired D’Arcy with a charming grin. “Her name is Cecily Anderson-Reese, the sister of Lord Jonathan Anderson-Reese.

The very one who has been seen in public with the charming French singer I have been accompanying in her conquering tour of London society. You must have heard of the Parisian Nightingale.” “Indeed, I have. I had the pleasure of hearing her sing before the period of mourning set in.” “Quite,” said Little Chip. “And Lord Anderson-Reese is to be the Earl of Lincolnshire. Has been through some hard financial trouble, I’m afraid, but a charming fellow and quite a good gambler.” D’Arcy’s eyes lit up. “Indeed?” he said, smiling. “And this fellow is her brother?” “I believe that is the case,” he said.

“And that dullard she is with called Lord Nunn,” said D’Arcy. “What’s his excuse for living?” “He is the best friend of Lord Anderson-Reese, although I’m not familiar with his station. He is also very close with Lord Northridge, the heir to the Earl of Hampstead, and from one of the wealthiest and noblest families in England. Those three are best chums. I warrant it is best to be on his good side.” “I shall make his acquaintance,” said D’Arcy. “But this Lord Anderson-Reese fellow. I could swear to you I encountered him in a gambling den not a week ago. Or perhaps a trifle longer.” “It is not unlikely.

He frequents those sorts of places.” “Yes. And this is his sister?” “It is.” “Intriguing. I hope to make her acquaintance at my earliest opportunity. Thank you for your assistance, Little Chip, and I will enjoy your lovely music.” D CHAPTERTWO ’Arcy was being tracked by every feminine eye in the ballroom. He walked alone, carrying himself like a conquering hero, even if he was almost entirely without friends at this place. At least, he was until he joined up with Jonathan and the beautiful French songstress, who were trying their best to stay out of the limelight. Of course, they were the most talked-about people in London that Season.

The very fact that they would appear in public together was a matter of great interest and talk among the members of good society. Nevertheless, very few people were conversing with either of them. D’Arcy took advantage of this opportunity and made his way across the empty dance floor. “Johnny?” said D’Arcy as he approached them, smiling knowingly. “Dear God, is that you, D’Arcy Dancer?” said an astonished Jonathan. “Yes, my friend, it is. I have been trying to fit into this ridiculous society, and I am afraid I have made rather a bad impression.” “Well, I know what you mean.” “And you played me for a bit of a fool the other night,” said D’Arcy. “You led me to believe you were of common stock, with that ‘Johnny’ stuff.

” “I confess I was a little embarrassed to let you know my true identity. I am Lord Anderson-Reese, at your service.” “I surely know that now,” said D’Arcy with a chuckle. “I’m finding it devilishly hard to make a good impression on a certain someone.” “Considering all the young ladies that are tittering behind their fans upon seeing such a dashing Irish lord, I find that hard to believe,” said Jonathan. D’Arcy laughed. “Be that as it may, I understand your sister and her beau were less than impressed, despite the kindness of my approach.” “Well, you must forgive Lord Nunn. Although the two of them may appear very secure in their positions here in society, Lord Nunn is a very sensitive young man. He’s one of my greatest friends, but even I can see that Cecily is far more than he can handle.

” “Is that so?” said D’Arcy with a grin. “I must say, I am very taken with her.” “Perhaps approaching her at a ball is not the best way to ingratiate yourself with her,” offered Garance. “Forgive me, madam,” said D’Arcy, turning to the singer. “I must say it is an honor to see you again. When you serenaded me in the gambling den, I had no idea you were the much-talked-about Parisian Nightingale. And even so, I had the privilege of hearing you sing at Covent Garden a few days ago, just before the mourning period began, and I was transported. I have never heard a voice like yours before, and I was honored to be able to witness your performance.” “Thank you, D’Arcy,” said Garance with a kind smile. “And I must thank you as well for your assistance with the frightful business in that awful gambling den.

” “I daresay, any man would have done the same,” said D’Arcy. “I beg to differ. You showed true bravery in the face of an armed attack. Jonathan told me in confidence that he was very grateful for your help. There were rather a lot of ruffians that evening, and I shudder to think what might have happened had that man been allowed to take advantage of me. I was fairly abducted.” “I shouldn’t attribute too much to my intercession,” said D’Arcy to Garance. “Jonathan was the hero in that scenario.” “Why thank you, D’Arcy,” said Jonathan, feeling emboldened. “I say, you might want to visit us tomorrow at our place on Wimpole Street.

Would that be something you might consider? It would be no bad connection to make, for I am well-placed in society, despite my depleted financial situation.” “I heard someone say something about that. Do you need money?” “I should say not,” said Jonathan. “I have that well under control.” “And my finances are more than enough to see us through this period,” added Garance. “For I shall tell you a secret, my friend. We are to be married.” “Garance,” said Jonathan. “That is not public knowledge yet. I should not like the news to get out before our public declaration and we get my mother’s blessing.

” “Jonathan,” said Garance with a laugh. “You know yourself that D’Arcy has no social connections at all. That has been the substance of our conversation these last few minutes.” “Why yes, but of course he has more than he claims. I must swear you to secrecy for the time being,” Jonathan said, nodding his head toward D’Arcy. “Understood,” D’Arcy replied. “And I should be honored to attend your at-home time. Have you a card?” “As luck would have it, I haven’t, but I shall be sure to get it to you forthwith. Where are you staying?” “On Rubicon Court, in King’s Cross. I have taken rooms there with my man, O’Malley.

” “Then I shall be sure to pay you a visit as well when convenient,” said Jonathan. “Certainly,” said D’Arcy. At that very moment, he spied that Cecily was alone by the punch bowl. “Forgive me, but I believe there is an opportunity to dance with your sister, and we both know that the early bird gets the worm.” Before Jonathan could say a word, D’Arcy was across the room with the hope of engaging Cecily in conversation. Cecily noticed that the Irishman who’d so boldly approached her earlier with flattery and flirtation was talking with her brother. She decided it was time to part from Lord Nunn to obtain a glass of punch, since the man wasn’t keen on dancing. And, by allowing herself to be freed from the overbearing nature of her escort for the evening, she put herself in a position to be spoken to by other gentlemen. Seeing that the daring Irishman—who had the physique of an Adonis, she couldn’t help but notice—was acquainted with her brother already, she saw no harm in making his acquaintance as well. When he approached her from across the room, Cecily made eye contact as she sipped her punch.

Her brother had become such a daring man as he chased after his scandalous love, that she herself felt like following the same path. The idea of marrying for love instead of convenience certainly appealed to her. Seeing that a very attractive Irishman was approaching her, her heart skipped a beat. She was willing to give this man a chance if he could one day capture her heart as well as her interest. “Good evening, Miss Anderson-Reese. Would ye care to dance with me?” asked the man as he approached, bowing before her. Their eyes never disconnected, sending a thrill of excitement through her.

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