Masquerade (Scandalous Ballroom Encounters Book 1)

BOOK: Masquerade (Scandalous Ballroom Encounters Book 1)
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Scandalous Ballroom Encounters

Victoria Vale



Book 1:



Victoria Vale

Copyright 2015 by Victoria Vale

Edited by Zee Monodee (Divas at Work Editing)

Cover Art by PJ Friel


All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever


This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are a product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, laces, or people, living or dead, is coincidental.





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Chapter One


London, 1815


Margaret Seymour hid a yawn behind one gloved hand, taking care not to spill her watered-down lemonade with the other. She dared a glance at her mother, who stood chatting with an acquaintance and had thus not noticed her unladylike faux pas. It would not do to act in an unseemly manner in Almack’s, and within full view of the
—not when the Duke of Wellington himself had once been barred from entering the exclusive establishment for daring to attend dressed in pantaloons instead of knee breeches.

It would not do to behave badly at all. Margaret’s mother, Lady Seymour, would tolerate nothing more than dutiful obedience from her daughter, who she hoped would snag herself a wealthy, titled husband—and by titled, the baroness had made it clear she aimed for a viscount or higher. Her mother’s ambitions ruled Margaret’s life, which meant she must attire herself at the height of fashion while remaining demure, smile prettily without showing too many teeth, and carry herself in a way befitting their status and old name. Her own hopes and dreams for herself—love, happiness, excitement, and the freedom to be herself—were never taken into account. She was a woman, and thus considered nothing more than a pretty ornament to be worn on the arm of her future husband.

The baroness had done everything she could to secure Margaret’s future: a large dowry and elegant trousseau, a presentation at court sponsored by their friend, Lady Albina Vincent, Countess of Plumhurst—whose influence had seen them admitted into the ballrooms of other peers—and now, vouchers admitting them to Almack’s. All that remained was for Margaret to find a husband by the end of the season, a feat she’d begun to believe impossible.

It wasn’t as if she didn’t have choices. Her dance card never went unsigned, and every afternoon, she descended to find the blue drawing room filled with bouquets of flowers and notes from prospective suitors. The men called upon her, escorted her on chaperoned walks or carriage rides in Hyde Park, made polite conversation at dinner parties, and one had even invited her to attend the opera in his private box—with his mother to play chaperone, of course.

Margaret’s prospects were not the problem.

The problem happened to be that she could not decide between them, which probably had a lot to do with the fact that not one of them had captured her interest. Once she had whittled it down by excluding the fortune hunters and the ones with gray hair, only five remained, and she could not find it in herself to grow excited over any of them.

The baroness chastised her for her foolish, romantic notions, and Margaret supposed love was too much to hope for when she’d been taught to view marriage as a practical arrangement. Yet, she did not think it was too much to ask for one of her suitors to spark some sort of interest in her. Friendship or tenderness, perhaps a bit of camaraderie … yet, she felt nothing for them. If she could not even find those qualities in a potential husband, then she could hardly expect passion—the one thing she desired above all.

The voice of Lady Cordelia Digby, her childhood best friend, cut into her wandering thoughts.

“Oh, Maggie, there you are!”

Grateful for a reprieve from the monotony of dry cake, watery lemonade, and dull conversation, she turned to Cordelia with a smile.

“Thank goodness you’ve arrived,” she whispered, careful to keep her voice low so her mother didn’t overhear. “Heavens, I’ve nearly gone batty with boredom.”

“Boredom?” Cordelia exclaimed artlessly, causing the heads of the baroness and her companion to swivel their way. She flushed at Margaret’s narrowed glare, but made a quick recovery. “Dear Margaret, how could you complain about boredom when everyone—absolutely
—is in attendance tonight? And, wait until I tell you about the most marvelous thing that just happened. Lord Rotherham just signed my dance card!”

She produced the card and practically shoved it into Margaret’s face. Sure enough, scrawled in a precise hand, the card had been signed:
Right Honourable Viscount Rotherham
. While the rest of Cordelia’s dance card still remained quite empty—she’d only just arrived—Lord Rotherham had purposely taken a pair of country dances, ensuring that he would spend at least an hour in her company. Her courtship with the viscount seemed to be going well. It could be a smart match for Cordelia, his title of viscount being merely a courtesy until he came into his inheritance. James Rotherham would someday inherit an earldom, and if Cordelia played her cards right, she could be his countess.

“That’s wonderful,” Margaret said politely. “I want to hear all about it.”

She hoped her indifference did not show through. She felt happy for her friend, who truly wanted this match. Cordelia had set her cap for Lord Rotherham from the start of the season, and like most of their friends, would be happily married to the man of her choice by season’s end. It was just that Margaret could not grow as easily excited by a pair of country dances as Cordelia could.

Now the waltz … this dance could cause her to grow enthusiastic. Just the thought of dancing so close to a man—so close their thighs brushed at every turn—caused her face to heat and her heart to race. She frowned, eyeing her own dance card. The waltzes would remain unclaimed. A young debutante, she’d not yet been given permission by the patronesses of Almack’s to waltz.

“I have another bit of news sure to catch your interest,” Cordelia continued between sips of lemonade. “You will never guess who’s here.”

Margaret rolled her eyes. “I am certain I won’t, so the suspense is hardly necessary.”

Cordelia’s bright blue eyes twinkled with mischief, and one of her flaxen curls brushed Margaret’s sable ones as she leaned in close to whisper.


At the mention of His Grace, the Duke of Avonleah, Margaret’s pulse began to race and her gaze darted about the room in search of the man himself. If there existed any male who personified her idea of perfection, it would be him. She certainly would not suffer from indifference if
showed interest in courting her.

“There,” Margaret whispered, inclining her head to indicate that she’d spotted him. Cordelia followed her gaze and the two sighed in unison.

Swathed in black, save for his snowy white shirt and linen, Lord Camden Rycroft, Duke of Avonleah, was a sight to behold. Raven black hair swept his nape and his brow in a whimsical tousle of unruly, yet artfully arranged locks. A strong face with aquiline nose, sturdy jaw, and full, mocking lips enchanted the eye.

Yet, for all his beauty, he possessed an inherent masculine air of strength and quiet power. No sculpture could compare to his body, broad in the shoulders and chest, tapered at the waist and hips, with powerful thighs and calves showcased to perfection in snug evening breeches. Just the sight of him filled Margaret’s mind with fantasies of snatching the pristine white cravat away from his throat and opening the front of his shirt to bare his chest and run her tongue over the bulging muscles.

“Dear God, the man is beautiful,” Cordelia murmured.

Margaret, incapable of words, nodded in agreement. As she followed his progress throughout the room with her eyes, she couldn’t help but mourn the attentions of a man she could never hope to capture. Not because of her looks. She’d been blessed with a peaches and cream complexion, complete with a rosy pink mouth, high cheekbones, and wide, doe eyes the color of chestnuts. The deep, rich hue of her sable hair only served to enhance her features and coloring. Still, it took more than a pretty face to capture the attention of His Grace, and Margaret lacked the necessary goods.

How could she tempt a man known for his rakish ways and sexual prowess while dressed in the pale, pasty pastels of a debutante? Everyone knew Avonleah preferred a bold, experienced woman, and she was hardly either.

If he ever showed interest in her, she doubted it would extend beyond carnal pursuits. While her mother would find that outrageously scandalous, Margaret thought the idea thrilling. Her tongue crept out to wet her lower lip at the notion of him ruining her in the most delicious ways. Her mother had told her nothing of what went on in the marriage bed, but her curiosity had gotten the better of her and she’d asked her cousin, Lavinia, who’d recently wed. Her elder cousin, who had always been a rather frank person, had shut the door to the drawing room where they’d been having tea and told her absolutely everything. It all sounded so intriguing, especially when she imagined Avonleah performing the acts her cousin had described.

Sighing, she turned her gaze away from him, though she remained aware of his position in the room at any given moment. She tried to concentrate on fulfilling the obligations of her full dance card, and getting through the evening without displaying her boredom outwardly.


Chapter Two


Camden Rycroft, His Grace The Duke of Avonleah, closed his eyes and sighed with relief. Tension melted from his body at the feel of the hot, warm mouth wrapped around his prick. The tedium of an evening spent at Almack’s faded into oblivion as he gave himself over to the doxy kneeling between his knees, her tongue caressing his hard shaft and her deft fingers working his sac. With a groan, he rested his dark head against the back of the sofa while a second pair of lips found his chest, a searching tongue working its way toward his flat nipple.

He’d much rather have spent his evening watching a good row at Gentleman Jack’s, or playing a few hands at one of his clubs. However, obligation had placed him at Almack’s, where he often found himself routinely forced to feign interest in the offerings of the marriage mart. Having just come into his title one year ago, his entire life had become ruled by obligation and duty. While he had no desire to find himself leg-shackled at the end of this season, he must still appear actively in search of a bride. A single duke was a useless one, as heirs could thus not be produced to carry on the family name and titles. Along with the title of Duke came two others—Marquess of Hexthorne and Viscount of Lydmore—and the country estates and lands attached to them.

Since coming into the dukedom, he’d hardly had time to breathe, so entangled in the duties of his station. Being a duke proved deuced boring business, while being the second son of a duke with a mere courtesy title and no responsibility of the accompanying estate had been a rollicking good time. Add that to the workload which accompanied managing three estates, and there remained deuced little time for the pleasure-seeking that had ruled much of his youth.

One thing had not changed—the whores still tripped over themselves to please him, as evidenced by the very special treatment he received just then in an opulently appointed brothel nestled in Soho Square. The White House had become one of his favorite haunts, discovered during his years at university. When he and his friends would visit home between terms, they’d spent many a night exploring the brothel’s extensive themed rooms, which ranged from opulent to downright bizarre. That sort of behavior had earned him a reputation as a rake. His many nights spent at Carlton House with the Prince Regent and his raucous set had only exacerbated it.

If it weren’t for his rank, he’d have never been given entrance into Almack’s. The patronesses wouldn’t dare refuse him and risk suffering his wrath. He was the sort of man fathers wanted for their daughters, and the kind mothers warned them away from—but only so long as they could avoid ruination while still managing to trap him into marriage. It had become fun, watching them all make cakes of themselves on his account.

Camden opened his eyes, one hand coming up to fist the dyed, garish red hair of the whore lying across his chest. He tilted her head back, his lips grazing her throat and making his way down to her breasts. He took a round nipple into his mouth, his cock twitching in excitement in the other woman’s mouth at the sound of her lusty moans. He circled the little bud with his tongue, causing it to pebble and harden. The other responded the same way when his hand came up to touch it, his palm cradling the heavy, abundant flesh, his fingers teasing the tip mercilessly.

He lifted his head and glanced over her shoulder at the vixen still on her knees before him, her inky black hair spilling over her shoulders and down her back, her head bobbing in a steady rhythm as her mouth sheathed his cock over and over.

He gave the redhead a little squeeze and a charming smile.

“Your friend here has an exquisite little mouth,” he murmured before lapping at her delectable nipple again. “Would you like to feel?”

“Yes, Your Grace,” she whimpered.

He took her breast deep into his mouth and suckled. Her hips bucked when his fingers found their way between her legs, his digits tickling the fiery red curls there. He raised an eyebrow in surprise to discover that she’d, apparently, thought to dye the rug to match the drapes. A gush of heat and moisture met his touch and she wiggled, angling her slick opening closer to his hand. Camden obliged her and dipped inside, stroking her silken channel.

“Good,” he murmured, giving her breast another playful nip. “Lie down there and open your legs. I want to watch her taste you while I fuck her.”

The redhead obeyed, stretching out on the couch once he’d vacated his place on it. He stood, fisting himself and stroking, his blood heated and rushing in his veins at the sight of the dark-haired doxy kneeling between the other girl’s parted thighs. The redhead’s back arched, her breasts quivering when she trembled, moaning at the feel of the woman’s lips and tongue. Anticipation urged him on, his erection now having become painful at the erotic scene playing out before him. Camden approached them, his hands finding the curves of the kneeling whore’s hips as he angled himself toward her entrance.

Several things he realized to be true as he slid himself into her wet sheath—two cunts were definitely better than one … and it was bloody good to be a duke.



BOOK: Masquerade (Scandalous Ballroom Encounters Book 1)
5.03Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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