Trevor Caufield has always prided himself on being a consummate rake...until a clandestine meeting with a mysterious, strangely silent woman in a darkened hallway. Setting out to pursue Emma Hatton with purely selfish intentions, he discovers emotions that transcend his formerly uncomplicated existence and teach him that true love has no need for words.
"Ah, silence," he muttered, rounding a corner and slipped deeper into the house. His steps were unhurried, and the leisurely pace saved him from walking straight into the petite form that blocked his path just after the turn.
The woman stared at him with wide, doe—eyes. She was radiantly beautiful in the dimly lit corridor, the rays of moonlight illuminating the golden tresses of her hair, which spilled over her shoulders in rich, enticing waves. She didn't have the look of a servant girl; her dress, though out—of—date, was far too elegant. Her pixie—like face was soft but refined, with a small, button nose and full, pouty lips that made him, without thinking, lick his own in anticipation. Her eyebrows, the same golden blonde as her hair, were fine and sculpted, arching over eyes that, even in the dim light, he saw were a sparkling, crystalline blue.
"My apologies, Madame, I didn't intend to frighten you," Trevor soothed, recovering from his momentary shock and offering her a charming half—smile. Where have you been hiding? he wanted to ask instead.
Her eyes widened another fraction, but she said nothing.
"Truly, I thought myself alone," he continued and flashed another smile. "Had I known I would encounter such an enchanting gem hidden away in this dark hall, I would have brought two glasses." He lifted the champagne flute to his lips, watching her carefully over the rim.
Still no response from her. Were it not for the slight tremble of her lower lip, Trevor would have begun to wonder if she was a statue – or perhaps a life—sized doll. Yes, she resembled the dolls his little sister had played with as a child, her skin smooth and pale as porcelain, eyelashes almost freakishly long, fanning against the ridge of her eyebrows.
"Am I such a terrifying sight?"
More maddening silence.
He changed tactics. Trevor reached for her hand, half expecting her to jump backwards out of his reach. She didn't, and allowed him to grasp her fingers lightly, giving them a squeeze. Her skin was soft and silky, and he felt a jolt of warmth at the contact. "Are you ill, Madame? Hurt?"
She shook her head just the slightest bit – a minute gesture, the shimmer it stirred amongst her flaxen curls the only indication that she'd moved at all. Her hand remained limp in his much larger palm.
"Damnit, woman, say something, would you? Anything," he exclaimed.
She shook her head again, this time with more force, and gave his hand a squeeze. Rather than pulling out of his grip, as he expected her to do, she allowed her hand to stay where it was, giving a second squeeze with her fingers.
"Well, good. We've established you're real, and I'm real," Trevor said. "Now, I really must insist that you…" That she what, Caufield? Exactly what is it you want her to do?
A rustling from around the corner caused him to abandon his thought process. His companion stiffened, and he heard her sharp intake of breath. Before he could stop her she'd pulled her hand free and was running down the hallway.
"Wait!" Trevor called. "At least allow me your name!"
She paused long enough to cast a final, mournful glance over her shoulder, and then disappeared into the shadows.