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She turned at the silence and saw that he looked nonplussed.
“I’m sorry if I’ve disappointed you with my revelations regarding my true character, Mr Westaway. I’m sure you’d have far preferred to uphold an image of me as mild-natured and demure. That’s how Lady Vernon told me to behave when I first came to London. But as I’ve got to know you more, I can’t hide my true nature. I’m so far from the perfect, demure debutante Lady Vernon thought she was going to be chaperoning about London.”
“But your beauty makes up for that.” He shook his head as if he’d not believed he’d said it. “I’m very sorry I said that. The sentiment was unseemly on both counts.”
Faith swallowed. She was feeling her way in the dark, so to speak. Yes, part of her tutoring was to exchange banter with a range of gentlemen, and she’d enjoyed it. But one false step and she could lose everything for which she’d worked so hard.
She pushed to the back of her mind any thought that she might actually be wanting this for reasons to do with her own heart rather than as a means to an end. Faith had never had the luxury to think of anything other than survival. And her survival depended upon twisting this man around her little finger. Making him fall in love with her.
The way he was looking at her bolstered her confidence that she could do this.
“You think you shouldn’t say I’m beautiful because it’ll turn my head?” she asked softly. “Or you think that an independent mind should be irrelevant in the face of beauty.” Faith shifted a little on her footstool but held herself back from contact. His lithe, strong body was within easy touching. She could have put her hand on his knee or risen slowly and cupped his face. How would he have reacted? Would he have sunk into a kiss…only to berate himself afterwards? Yes, she sensed a steeliness in him that would enable him to put reason above his emotions.
But what if she couched it as a business proposition? A ladylike proposition?
She cleared her throat and lowered her eyes, keeping herself firmly glued to the footstool.