Hugh, a reformed rake, has recently learned he has an illegitimate daughter, and he's determined to provide her with the best possible upbringing, which includes finding a highly respectable wife. Instead, he falls for "Flighty Felicia", notorious for her failed elopements, and someone he's known his entire life. His feelings for her, though, are something very new:
"Hugh, why will you not marry me?"
"Because it is a preposterous notion."
"But why? Do you truly want to return to the marriage mart and commence auditioning debutantes again?"
At his slight groan, she pressed on. "I did not think so. And why are you so set against marrying me? Am I truly that horrid to you?"
Hugh drew back at her words. "Horrid? You are anything but. I can scarcely keep my thoughts away—" He spun on his heel and returned to the fireplace across the room, standing stiffly. "I am quite fond of you, and I am afraid that if we were to wed, it would destroy these warm feelings we have for each other."
Felicia burst out laughing. "How many times have you delivered that speech? It is atrocious."
"If you have any hope of it succeeding, you have to inject at least a small measure of warmth and sincerity. Here, like this." She straightened her shoulders, letting the corners of her mouth drop as if she had been stricken with sadness. "I am very, very fond of you. But I fear that if we were to wed—" She sniffed, dabbing at her eyes. "If we were to wed, it would utterly, positively destroy these tender feelings we have shared."
Hugh's jaw dropped. "You have missed your calling, Felicia. I have never seen such stunning theatrics in my life."
She bobbed a curtsey. "Thank you. Now you can see why I could not believe your words for a moment." She moved closer to him, suppressing a smile when he stepped away. Was he afraid of her? Surely not.
She stepped even closer, and this time she saw his lower lip tremble, though he seemed unaware of it. His eyes were focused on her mouth. Felicia realized at once he was not afraid of her. He was afraid of his unruly response to her.
She nearly crowed her triumph. For some reason he was trying to deny his feelings for her. But she was not about to let that happen. She took another step forward, and then one more. He could not move to either side.
"It appears you are trapped," she said.
"More than you know," he muttered.
Felicia moistened her lips and this time he did groan. She felt her cheeks pinken, with her rising excitement, as well as her feelings of power. She wanted Hugh, and she wanted to make him hers. She was bold and determined and she was going to make him surrender.
She leaned forward, closing her eyes just as her lips touched his—
Her eyes flew open. She leaned back, staring at his upraised hand.
He was not cooperating with her seduction!