To reconnoiter with a particular featured dancer.
From high above the stage a pale glow poured down upon the master of ceremonies. The man in formal tails and opera hat tilted his head toward the balcony. And where in the heavens might we find such a lovely mythical bird? All eyes followed as the haunting strains of harps, violins, and cellos swelled into something whimsical and evocative—Debussy, Finn thought.
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A lone spotlight halted on the lithe figure of a young woman sitting on the ledge of a balcony. The very term caused a sudden shiver of uncanny intuition. Finn had dredged up the word— arabesque —from distant memory. The ballerina tilted her head and opened gently wavering arms, a preening bird preparing for flight.
With each flutter she loosed ribbons of red and gold silk. Her pointe slippers pawed the ledge as she traversed the upper tier, unfurling wing and tail streamers along the way. Strains of music built quickly to a crescendo and she plunged off the balcony.
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The audience gasped as the diving bird swooped down over the audience attached to a delicate golden perch and gilded wire. Hardy leaned forward. Nice set of gams, wot? She floated across the stage, heading straight for their box. With arms outstretched, she unfurled yet another length of delicate fabric, gaily tossing it ahead of her as she reached the end of her arc. Before he could stop himself, Finn reached out over the edge of the balcony and caught the ribbon of silk. Their eyes met in shock and surprise. Every fiber of his being came alive.
The roar of cheers from the male audience below barely registered.
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The trapeze swung the ethereal bird back over the heads of the audience and lowered her gracefully to the floor of the stage. The ballerina leaped to earth amongst an eruption of applause, and danced a series of precision pirouettes across the stage into the arms of a male dancer who lifted her high above his shoulders and rotated her slowly in the air. Zak and Hardy joined in the applause. Finn sank into his chair.
He had never seen Catriona dance in Spain, or France for that matter. In fact, he had hardly gotten to know her at all. Tall and willowy with large sapphire eyes and raven hair, she was so. Mesmerized by her every move, his mind returned to a night of unforgettable passion they had shared—Christ, how long was it now? Well over a year, at least. Most provocatively, she slipped back down to earth in the arms of her partner. Twirling and leaping across a stage flooded with moonlight, her body moved with a light, ethereal quality—a sensuous grace—as if her feet had no real need to touch ground.
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- A Private Duel with Agent Gunn by Jillian Stone | Waterstones!
Fields of gravity did not apply to this lovely creature. She arched her back and swept an arm in the air, signaling farewell. One could feel the enchantment as everyone gasped a collective sigh. Waves of energy rippled through the room as the audience stood in ovation. She took her bows amongst a host of bravos and applause. Zak leaned forward. Though she dances with the Paris ballet company and has taken a French stage name, she is actually—. Born to a Spanish mother and British father, raised in both countries, attended finishing school in France.
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Zeno poured them each another dram. Finn shot Zak a cautionary glower. Never thought you were the type to read between the lines, Kennedy. Quite a stunning young woman, Finn. Hardly surprising there was an affair. The Yard man gazed from one brother to the other. My wife informs me the ladies quite often throw themselves at both of you. To my never-ending relief, Hardy gets most of the attention.
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Zak pressed on. He stared at Zak. A tool perhaps, or she could be a cunning operative. We need you to find out. Kennedy tossed back his whiskey and set the glass down. And what would you have me do with her? Finn stuffed the silk ribbon in his coat pocket. Once I find out? Befriend her. Gain her trust. Turn her if you can. Both the Admiralty and Home Office would like nothing more than to have a mole on the Continent.
Hardy sat back, nearly agog. This Scotland Yard business beats the Horse Guards by a length and half. Finn rose from his chair. I believe I have a stage door to knock on. Chapter Two. One of the girls in the wings handed her a towel. Merci, chouchou. Cate dabbed at perspiration and wove a path through a blur of diaphanous pastel skirts. The corps de ballet awaited the strains of music that cued their entrance. A rapid pulse and labored breath were normal after such a strenuous dance, but she did not recall ever being this.
And her stomach flutters were—dear God, her body purred inside. He had reached out and nearly touched her. A tremble vibrated from the tips of her breasts to the depths of her womb. He had caught one of her streaming ribbons, much to the elation of an audience brimming with men. She slipped down the backstage stairs crowded with up and down traffic, and made her way into the green room.
Some came with flowers, others with offers of a late supper. She collected several bouquets, conversing pleasantly with her followers, men who were often nearly speechless on first acquaintance. Tonight, Cecil Cavendish, eleventh Baron Burleigh, stationed himself near her door.
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Good evening, Miss de Dovia. His bow brought him close enough to whisper. Or may I call you Cate? Of course you may.
We are friends, are we not? She offered her hand, which he kissed in European fashion.
She had allowed him to take her to dinner once and to show her off to prominent acquaintances at a few elegant soirees. When she had confessed her real name and revealed her dual heritage, his interest had moved from mildly amused acquaintance to something more ardent and worrisome. She raised a brow. Should I allow you to occupy so much of my time, monsieur?
A quiet dinner—just the two of us? Cate hesitated. In actuality, she was famished. But she was also running out of expensive gowns to wear to fancy restaurants and balls. Give me a moment. She flashed a smile and pivoted toward her dressing room. Cate took one last glance around the corridor. A wave of melancholy washed over her. If truth be told, she felt a bit deflated.