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Wicked Fantasy Nicole Jordan

Wicked Fantasy

Nicole Jordan

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London, June 1815She didnt look much like a damsel in distress, Deverill decided, watching Antonia Maitland across the crowded ballroom. Nothing like a young lady who needed his protection, her life endangered by a murderer. The potential victimMoreLondon, June 1815She didnt look much like a damsel in distress, Deverill decided, watching Antonia Maitland across the crowded ballroom. Nothing like a young lady who needed his protection, her life endangered by a murderer. The potential victim of the very man she was privately engaged to wed.Instead, she seemed in her element at the glittering ball, gowned in an exquisite confection--pearl gray gauze shot with silver--that must have cost a fortune. Of course, as one of Englands greatest heiresses, Miss Antonia Maitland could well afford to patronize the most fashionable modistes.Yet the gown, while splendid, deserved only partial credit for her enchanting looks. Antonia positively glowed in the light of myriad candles burning in the crystal chandeliers overhead.Deverills eyes narrowed at the unexpected lust that shot though him. Physically she little resembled the gangly, self-conscious girl he had met four years ago. She was as tall as he remembered, but her figure had ripened to slender, womanly curves, and she carried herself now with an elegance, a graceful self-assurance, that had only been hinted at then.He would never forget their first meeting--her endearing embarrassment at catching him in the nude--and then later that evening, her bold, completely unexpected request for a kiss.At the time hed thought Antonia utterly unique. Despite the advantages of wealth and luxury, she had fretted at the strictures society placed on young ladies, wishing shed been born male so that she could control her fathers shipping empire and sail the world in search of adventure.Her ambition was the only masculine thing about her, Deverill reflected, riveted by her brilliant smile. Certainly her appearance was purely feminine. Her coppery mane was darker now, a glorious deep auburn. That and her creamy white skin gave her a vibrancy that roused all his primal male instincts.She was a beauty, no doubt about it. And reportedly her hand was sought by numerous gentlemen, despite her late fathers low birth and breeding.This morning, Mrs. Peeke, the Maitland housekeeper and a longtime friend of Deverills, had proudly summed up her mistresss success: Antonia was genuinely popular with Londons fashionable set, accepted in society by virtue of her own lively charm and her claim to genteel blood on her mothers side. And naturally, her vast inheritance.At present, she was surrounded by a flock of her ardent admirers, including her betrothed, the refined, aristocratic Baron Heward.Her betrothal was the prime reason Deverill was here in England. Hed returned to London after more than a years absence, summoned by the housekeepers fearful letter, imputing that Antonia was in danger. Samuel Maitland had died last year, supposedly of heart failure, yet Mrs. Peeke suspected differently--that hed actually been poisoned by Lord Heward after a violent argument when Maitland had withdrawn his permission for the baron to wed his daughter.Deverills promise to investigate had brought him to this ball this evening in search of Antonia. He planned to renew the acquaintance and question her about her betrothal before deciding how to