Gabriel Drake's manners suffered horribly during his stint at piracy. Jacquelyn Wren is doing her best to tutor him in the proper way to woo a lady. She's trying to teach him the gentle language of the fan, but Gabriel has another plan altogether.
* * * * * * * * *
"I fear you are not taking your responsibilities seriously, my lord."
"Since when is knowledge of fans such a serious responsibility?"
"Your goal is to wed," she reminded him. "When your female guests arrive for the ball, your future wife may well be among them. Wouldn't you like to be able to correctly read the subtle signs she sends you?"
"As opposed to your not-so-subtle ones?" When she glared at him, he threw up his hands in mock surrender and settled beside her. "I am clay in your capable hands, Miss Jack. Mold me into the fashion most suitable for feminine approval."
"Very well." She nodded, mollified for the moment. "We'll start with the basics. A wealth of information can be conveyed with a few simple moments. Now if a woman touches the tip of her fan to her right cheek, it means 'yes.'" She brought the fan up to demonstrate.
"And the left cheek means 'no,' I suppose."
"Exactly." Her lips curved in a fleeting smile. He suddenly wished he knew how to coax one to stay.
"My left or your left?" he asked.
"It's always the woman's left."
"Why am I not surprised?" He leaned toward her. Even in the midst of a wildly blooming garden, he caught a whiff of her rosewater scent. It swirled around his brainpan and nudged his groin to aching life. "But why go to so much trouble? How hard is it just to say 'yes' or 'no'?"
"This may be difficult for a pirate to grasp, but sometimes a situation calls for delicacy. In a crowded drawing room, wouldn't a subtle 'no' be preferable to a bald-faced one?" She hitched herself away from him on the settee.
"Actually, a 'yes' would be preferable." He hitched along after her. The bench would only allow her to scoot so far.
Her lips were mere inches away, softly parted. Sweet and moist, he could nearly taste them. The pulse point at the base of her throat fluttered faster than her fan.
"There are some men who will not hear a 'no' even if it is shouted from the battlements," she said. Her pointed little tongue darted out and swept her bottom lip.
"Maybe that's because we're not the dolts women take us for." He closed the distance between them, intent on claiming her mouth. "A man can tell when a woman is saying 'no' with her fan and 'yes' with everything else."
She shoved the fan between them right under his nose. It was nine inches long and had ivory spines webbed with stiff, itchy lace.
"Another improvisation?" he asked.
She arched an eyebrow at him.
"You seem to have a gift for it." He rubbed his upper lip when she finally lowered her weapon.
"I fear you are not attending, my lord." She snapped the fan shut and pressed the tip to her left cheek. Her gray eyes flared at him. "What does this mean again?"
He pulled away from her. Strategic retreat was often the path to victory, the old sea dogs claimed.
He'd wager none of them had ever crossed fans with Jacquelyn Wren.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Gabriel and Jacquelyn's first meeting is posted on my website at www.emilybryan.com. PLEASURING THE PIRATE will sail into bookstores on July 29th, but you can reserve your copy today at Amazon