Miranda gave a little laugh. “Wal, I’ll be hornswoggled if it ain’t that handsome captain. My, ain’t he a fine figure of a man in his dress uniform.” Belle resisted turning, but it took all her control. “I think he’s coming our way,” Miranda whispered.
Then Belle knew he was beside them. “Good evening ladies.” the deep voice said, freeing Belle to turn and look up into his eyes.
“Captain,” she said, “I didn’t know if you’d be here tonight.”
“You didn’t?” His voice was tight like his smile.
“I met your father and brother. Your father is staying with Mr. Forester.”
Before he could answer, Miranda said, “Josiah is beckoning me over to meet someone. Glad to see you both again.”
Then they were alone. Or as alone as someone could be in a large hall with over a hundred guests milling around. “You look very beautiful, Belle,” he said, not taking his gaze from her.
She smiled. “So do you.”
“I don’t have cause to wear this uniform often.”
“And a sword.”
“Part of the dress code. Although in battle, it can become a lifesaver when a rifle jams or can’t be reloaded fast enough.”
“You’ve used it in combat.”
“I have. I see your frown. Don’t worry. I have cleaned it after each such battle.” This time she thought his smile was a teasing one.
“You are a good soldier.”
“Is there such a thing?” The smile turned cynical.
“Of course there is or you’d not still be one, would you?”