She dimly saw the exasperated look on Lucian’s face before he whirled her around at arms length in the center of the circle. She flung back her head and laughed, feeling almost wanton with her ribbon-wrapped braids swirling in the air behind her. Joy bubbled in her like a heady wine. She had never imagined that dancing could be so intoxicating. Another spin and she might take flight. Her head continued to reel when Lucian pulled her to a stop, leaving her so dizzy that she had to grip his forearms to prevent herself from falling. Oh! How hard his muscles felt beneath her hands. His strong grip cupped her elbows, holding her upright until her giddiness ebbed. As he steadied her now from the aftereffects of her demand to be whirled, she felt in his clasp the power and promise of a man who would hold a woman forever safe from her own headstrong folly, if that woman could only swallow her pride enough to confess that she desired such a man. When his face ceased to swim, there was no one else in the hall but he, gazing down at her in a way that weakened her knees all afresh, for just so had his blue eyes grown dark before he had kissed her that day beneath the great oak tree.
“Oh, Isabel, that was splendid! Sir Eustace, hold my hands and spin me the same. Oh, fie on you, sir. Then Sir Gavin I know will oblige me.”
The world collapsed back in around Isabel at Agnes’s cry. Lucian drew his hands away, leaving her suddenly deflated and cold in the midst of a hall that blazed bright with the Yule fire.