The air rushed from Juliet’s lungs. When she gulped in a deep breath, the sharp scent of the fragrant lilies on the side table clogged her throat. She swayed as a woozy feeling threatened to overcome her. She simply hadn’t considered anyone would notice that Annabella’s dresses didn’t quite fit.But Harmony merely shrugged. “And every young lady should enjoy a new gown or two.”
“Aunties! I can’t go to this ball!” Juliet’s shout echoed in the room, finally silencing the aunts. The clip-clop of a fast-moving carriage filtered through the open window. Juliet stole a glance at the duke. Glittering eyes bored into her like a hunter waiting to pounce on his hapless prey.
“Why not?” asked Charity after a moment, a confused frown knitting her brow.
“Yes, Annabella. I’m interested in the answer to that question myself.” Grey stood, watching her with his icy blue eyes as he interjected himself back into the conversation. If she had thought she had a chance of putting the aunts off, she was certain she stood no such possibility with his grace.
“Well?” he snapped. “What excuse are you concocting to avoid this social engagement?”
Juliet shrank inside herself. The lilies’ cloying scent became bitter, and her stomach turned. She could hardly plead off with a headache this time since the day had yet to approach. She’d simply have to admit to the truth. At least as much as she dared.
“I can’t dance,” she mumbled, keeping her gaze locked on her feet.
The aunts gasped in unison and Juliet flinched.
“What?” barked Grey.
His voice jerked her head up. The duke stared, disbelief evident on his face. She began to tremble and her throat went dry.
“What nonsense are you pulling now?”
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