Rosalind Standford’s heart thudded against her ribcage as she lifted her pale green ball gown and stepped into the foyer. Where is he? She stood on tiptoe and scanned the dinner guests, trying to catch a glimpse of Trenton Easton. Disappointment and the worry that had plagued her for the last few days clutched her. Was the gossip true?
Surely Trenton would have told her. Or her own mother, if she knew. Mother was the only person who encouraged Rosalind’s feelings for her childhood best friend, feelings that had recently begun blooming toward something more.
Rosalind’s stomach quivered at the thought. She ran her fingertips along silver threads and embroidered sequins at her waist. She’d picked this satin gown for Trenton, knowing it would accent her gray eyes, a trait he only last week said gave her a dove-like beauty.
Again she swept her gaze over the room, past her mother, her father—her gaze, unfortunately, snagging on that of Mr. Glover Richards, a man almost her father’s age. He walked toward her, the click of his heels on the wooden floor lifting above the hum of scattered conversations and the hammering of her eardrums. She forced a smile and nodded, then turned to step away. His stiff, damp fingers slid around her upper arm, halting her movement.
A chill ran up her spine. “Mr. Richards.” She pulled back.
His dark eyes narrowed, assessing. An amused smile twisted his lips. He bowed. “How are you this evening, Miss Standford?”
She trembled as her name slid past his thin lips with a hissing sound. It was silly, but she couldn’t help herself. The man gave her the cold shivers. She didn’t want to talk to him, let alone suffer his touch, though lately he’d spent so much time with their family he’d become hard to avoid. It was as if he and her father had become dearest friends. Manners demanded she give a polite response, but she couldn’t bring herself to like the man. “Doing well, thank you. And you?”
“I’m grateful for your father’s invitation to Mr. Easton’s home.”
“Being the bank’s vice president has its advantages, does it not?” She folded her gloved hands and squeezed them together, wondering if Mother felt the same unease at Mr. Richards’s constant presence.
“Indeed it does. It’s my hope this new partnership between your father and me will secure more”—the corners of his mouth rose as if he enjoyed a private joke—“pleasant opportunities to come.”
“I see,” she answered, although she didn’t understand his meaning. Father never spoke of business around her or her mother, but whatever the dealings, Mr. Richards seemed happy. “I hope you and my father have a great partnership.”
Trenton descended the stairs, so handsome in his formal wear he took her breath away. He strolled past her, his jaw tense and his blond hair nearly touching his collar. Without looking to the right or left, he headed toward the dining room.
It’s true. Trenton and his family were leaving Boston.
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