I’m so pleased to finally be able to share an excerpt with you from Book 2, Beguiled:
David sagged against the iron railings in front of Balfour’s house and looked up at the windows above him, his chest aching. As with all the other private houses on the street, the drapes were open, the windows illuminated. And two floors up, a solitary figure stood at the drawing room window, staring out.
It was as though a giant hand gripped David, crushing him till he couldn’t breathe. He stared, his hungry gaze eating up the picture Balfour presented, alone in his elegant castle.
Why should that sight make David feel so sad?
Why should it make him feel anything at all?
Just then, Balfour shifted. He began to scan the crowd on the street below his house, as though he’d felt David’s attention somehow, like a physical touch. Or heard it, a silent call.
David watched, waiting helplessly for Balfour to find him, and moments later, he did. His wandering gaze halted on David, and their gazes caught and held—for an instant, no more—before Balfour whirled away from the window and was gone.
It occurred to David, somewhere in the back of his mind, that now might be a wise time to leave; that further encounters with Murdo Balfour might not be prudent. But he didn’t move. He leaned against the railings and stared at the glossy front door. And half a minute later, when it swung open, sure enough, there was Balfour, limned in light, a bright, excited smile on his handsome face. “Mr. Lauriston,” he called, lifting his voice against the chatter of the crowd and beckoning with his arm. “Won’t you come in?”
David found himself walking towards the short flight of steps that led to Balfour’s open door. He moved like a man in a dream, travelling west against a river of people flowing east, and ascended the steps. When he finally halted in front of Balfour, he had not the slightest idea of what to say, only hesitated, greedily taking in the picture the other man presented. Balfour’s habitual expression of faintly mocking amusement—one lifted brow, a curl to his lip—seemed to have deserted him, and an unfamiliar tenderness warmed his dark gaze.
“It’s good to see you again,” Balfour said. “I was afraid…we wouldn’t get another chance.”
David frowned at that comment, and for some reason that provoked a smile from Balfour. The lines at the corners of his eyes deepened with gentle merriment.
“Come in,” he repeated, this time putting his hand round David’s shoulder and propelling him forward. “Come and take a glass of wine with me at least.”
Perhaps it was the dreamlike quality of the evening that made David accept Balfour’s invitation. The night seemed filled with infinite possibility. Infinite magic. He murmured his agreement and followed Balfour inside and up a set of stairs that felt familiar enough to imbue him with an unsettling sense of déjà vu as he mounted them. At the top of the stairs, they turned to walk down a corridor that led to a cavernous set of rooms he remembered all too well.
No open drapes here. No, this was very private indeed.
“Wine?” Balfour offered, crossing the room to a sideboard that already held a half-drunk glass of burgundy liquid.
Balfour topped up the glass he’d been drinking from and poured another, handing the fresh one to David. Again that feeling of déjà vu spiked, drenching David in memories of standing in this very room, drinking Murdo’s wine and wondering what he’d been thinking of to come here. Wondering what the night would bring.
He took a healthy swallow from his glass, hoping to calm the nerves clamouring in his gut.
Balfour said, “I’d just been thinking of you. I couldn’t believe it when I looked out my window, and there you were, looking up at me.”
“I didn’t plan to come. I was caught up in the Illuminations and came upon your house unexpectedly.” David felt a flush stain his cheeks at the half lie.
The quirk of Balfour’s lips was oddly tender. “I suppose it was too much hope that you couldn’t stay away.” He paused, then added, “But I’m glad Fate brought you here.” He raised his glass in brief salute, then drank deeply, and, after a moment, David followed suit. Somehow they both ended up draining their glasses.
David’s glass dangled from his fingertips, the wine warming his blood. He couldn’t think what to say, what to do, just stared at Balfour, tall and elegant in his expensive coat and pristine linen, as perfectly put together as a man could be. A knot of yearning twisted inside him, a yearning that was all tied up with his memories and with the way Balfour studied him, his gaze suddenly gone hot with desire.
Balfour crossed the space between them and tugged the cool glass from David’s fingers, setting it aside and taking David’s face in his hands, bringing their lips together—
—in a kiss.
For an instant, David froze, passive and disbelieving, as Balfour’s lips pressed against his own; then he groaned, lifting his hands and fisting them in Balfour’s clothes, gripping him, and pulling him closer with jerky, desperate movements.