Sitting beside him, Addy held his hand, no matter propriety. He needed her. She knew enough of his malady to sit for many minutes without a word between them. He recovered himself, but slowly. And when a footman approached with a tray of wine or whiskey on offer, Gyles would have taken one.
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“Do not,” she admonished.
He stared at her. “No?”
“Spirits will only aggravate your condition.”
He looked away, but grimaced at the bright light of candles in a nearby sconce.
“Close your eyes. Turn toward me.” She stroked his hand and wrapped her fingers around his wrist and counted. “There. Your heart beat slows. You will be well. Give this a few minutes.”
He did as she bade him and in his time, he opened his eyes to consider her with quiet appreciation shining there. “You know my condition.”
“Bold sounds. Bright lights. Alcohol. Late nights. Exertion. They all contribute to your headaches. How long have you suffered them?”
He exhaled. “Since I was imprisoned by the French when I was young.”
“I see.” She squeezed his hand in sympathy. About that, she would learn more but not tonight. He had to recover first before he relived the cause of his distress. “You should not be at balls, sir. But home where you can be quiet and untroubled.”
“But if I did not attend here tonight, I would not have found you again.”
She bobbed her head to and fro. “We might have met in more sedate gatherings.”
“Perhaps. I would have chanced missing you.”
She had never been so sweetly entranced by a man who confessed to his liking for her in so unique a manner. “My sisters and I are in Brighton specifically to enjoy the Season. We will be…” she said as she circled a hand in the air, “everywhere.”
“Addy, how may I press my advantage?”
“You made an impression on me yesterday, Gyles. I will not soon forget you.”
He grasped her hand tightly. “Don’t forget me at all.”
“I won’t. How could I? You like my syrup.” She had to tease him and make him smile.
“I do. Among other things.”
She nodded, compassion in her heart for so afflicted a darling man. “Perhaps my dancing, too?”
“Indeed,” he said. “I’d like to kiss you for it.”
She gave a shocked little laugh. Since Grandpapa died and she knew she’d have to find a husband soon, she’d taken to kissing any man who appealed. Alas, she’d found none. But now, she was not only complimented but tempted to kiss this man. “Not here.”
“No. But somewhere and soon. With my thanks for the syrup, the dance and the laughter.”
Oh, my. Was he much too chivalrous? Was he a rake of no morals? A man who complimented women? Women like her? Young and naive. For all her good looks, for all her pride in them and understanding of them as a tool to attract men, she was still untried, uninformed of much of the physicality of mating. She could be all too easily influenced by a practiced man’s charms. Of that she had always been on guard.
“A kiss for relief from a headache? Oh, surely that would be—”
“Bliss,” he vowed. “I will try for it tomorrow.”
“When you come for tea?”
“I come for you, Addy.”
He lifted her hand and pressed his firm lips to her glove in a stunning kiss. Had he blessed her bare skin with his mouth, she would have taken him to an alcove in the hall and tasted the flavor of his desire and called herself barely satisfied.
“Tomorrow then,” she whispered and longed to taste his lips on hers.