Dizziness filled her as she fought to free herself. His smell was intoxicating, weakening her knees. He easily towered over her, his height at least six two, compared to her five-foot six. Her voice was quiet as she pleaded with him. "Please. Sir, you must release me. You are compromising my reputation and as it stands, it certainly needs no more help."
To her relief, he released her and bowed. "Forgive me, My Lady, but to find a rose such as you in a place filled with so many weeds…" He looked around, then up toward the doors leading to the Montgomery's soiree, raising a dark brow in tease.
Catherine felt a strong desire to smile back but knew she mustn't. This man, whoever he was, unnerved her, making it hard to think, to breathe, making him dangerous and she wanted only to get away from him. She heeded to the alarms that were going off in her head and turned to run toward the safety of her carriage.
But before she could get away, he grabbed her wrist, pulling her back to him. "Why are you afraid? I thought you to be an adventurous little minx. Was I mistaken?"
Catherine looked at him in confusion. "What? You do not know me, Sir, so how could you guess me to be adventurous? You most assuredly have me confused with another."
A wicked smile teased the corners of his mouth as he lifted both brows in disbelief. "Perhaps the fact that you have a taste for snooping around in dark rooms might cause me to think such a thing."
Her eyes flared wide and she gasped, trying desperately to pull away. Her face heated to near crimson as she realized his meaning. Could it have been him she had stumbled across?
Stuttering, she struggled for words. "I…um…I'm sure I have no idea what you mean. Now if you'll excuse me."
He tightened his grip slightly. "No?" Bending, he reached down and lifted her skirt with one hand while he firmly wrapped his fingers around her ankle, forcing her to bend her knee. The touch of his warm fingers on her bare flesh caused her body to tremble. Staring at her injured foot, he glanced up at her, his face smug.
Catherine's eyes widened again as she saw the white strip of cloth, now red, hanging from her shoe. She attempted to pull away once more but he held her fast, his hands brushing the sensitive skin of her leg before gently releasing her.
Standing, he winked, knowing he'd clearly made his point. In a teasing tone, he asked, "What kind of a gentleman would I be if I did not see to your injury and return you home safe and sound?" Turning his head, he snapped his fingers and ordered for his carriage to be brought around.