From the Inside Flap
"And who are you?" he asked in a too soft voice as he stepped closer.
"Lady Sophie Seacrest."
His eyes narrowed a fraction. "Ah, a Seacrest."
"You must know our gamekeeper, Hodge."
He shook his head and long strands of wet hair clung to his shoulders. "No, I've only been at Ellswood a short time."
Which explained why she had not seen or heard of him before today. Seacrests might be estranged from Langfords but staff tongues still wagged and Aunt Vivian made it her business to stay abreast of all happenings, claiming it was best to keep one's enemies close.
The man retrieved a blanket from a nearby bureau and settled it around her shoulders. "You shouldn't ride when a storm is threatening," he said, his deep voice curling around her.
She pulled the blanket closer in an effort to stave off the tingling in her middle and replied, "I'm an accomplished horsewoman."
He lifted a brow and slivers of amusement filtered his words. "But not so accomplished as to remain seated during a thunderstorm?"
She shrugged and smiled. "Apparently not."
"Step by the fire so you don't catch a chill."
Drops of water slid from her gown as she moved toward the fire's heat. What would her father say if he knew she was alone in a cottage with a stranger, an employee of the Langford's no less? He would not be pleased. Nor would her aunt. But they would never know for she would keep this one scrap of harmless adventure to herself and perhaps in nights ahead, pull it from her memories and think of the dark stranger.
"Drink this." The man thrust a snifter in her hands and she took a healthy swallow, expecting brandy.
A burn captured her throat, stealing her breath as she coughed and sputtered. "This is not brandy!"
"No," he smiled and his dark eyes glistened. "It's whiskey."
She coughed again and cleared her throat. "Why on earth do men find that drink so appealing? It is much too harsh and unrefined."
"Some of the best things in life are harsh and unrefined," he commented, glancing at her lips.