A shadowed figure emerged from the trees. A man, tall and lean, stood on the narrow dirt track in front of Grace, blocking her path. In the dark, under the dense canopy of branches, his face was nothing but shadows and indistinct features.
Fear tightened her muscles and sent a line of sweat rolling down her back. Still, she kept her voice cool and steady.
“Who goes there?” She narrowed her eyes, hoping to recognize the stranger’s features.
“Why, it’s Miss Hannah.” Pitched nearly to a whisper, the voice was unidentifiable, yet it carried clearly on the still night air. “Whatever are you doing in the woods, alone, at nearly three in the morning?”
“It’s none of your concern,” she answered sharply, shifting so that her coat fell open. She wanted access to her pistol.
“Hmmm.” The man stepped forward. It wasn’t a menacing movement, but certainly commanding. “What kind of mischief would a gently bred lady get into in the dead of night? A lover, perhaps?” The whisper became a sensual caress in the darkness.
Her heart thumped once, hard. She knew that voice, felt its timbre resonate through her.
“What are you about, my lord?” she asked coolly.
Langford prowled to the side so that he was on her right, standing just at the transition of trees to path. He seemed to merge with the tree trunks until he was only a shadow among shadows. Still, she knew what he would look like. Lean and angular and handsome, with eyes she the color of the sky in midsummer.
“Is the lady engaging in something illicit?” The words slid over her, a stroke of heat and danger in the darkness. “Smuggling, perhaps?”
Her mouth went dry. He knew.