The viscount offered his arm to Dinah and they walked the long path to the Water Garden. Dinah was entranced. The Temple of Fame, the Temple of Piety, and the Moon Pond passed in succession as they walked, engrossed in their conversation and the sights around them. The other company seemed to have dissipated, perhaps intending an early return to Harrowgate or Ripon.
From a distance, the children's voices echoed. The sound brought Dinah from her happy reverie. "We should return," she said. Reluctance echoed in her voice.
The viscount withdrew his gold half hunter from his waistcoat and consulted it. "We must; it is gone four o'clock. We shall not reach Harrowgate much before six. But let us go into the Temple of Piety before we leave."
They admired its colonnaded porch before strolling under its canopy.
"This has been wonderful. A fitting end to our summer holiday." Dinah said with a sigh of contentment. "Thank you, my lord, for thinking of it."
The viscount turned away from the vista of the Moon Pond before him, and stepped closer.
"You are most welcome. I have been delighted to satisfy my curiosity and yours is the company I would choose above all others."
"Oh don't -- please do not." She coloured at the intent look in his eyes. "Don't spoil the day."
"Why will it spoil the day if I express my admiration of you?" Holly asked. He had left his hat in the carriage, and now his hand rubbed his temple.
"Why do you do that?" Dinah seized on an excuse to turn the conversation. "Have you the headache?"
He seemed embarrassed. "Was I rubbing my brow? It is an old habit; I have tried very hard to break it."
"Tell me, please."
"It started when I went to school, after my mother died. I suffered the headache frequently and rubbing it seemed to help."
"Poor little boy," Dinah murmured.
"Well, the headaches quit, eventually, but I was left with this habit."
"Generally when you are ill at ease."
"You see too much, Dinah."
"You must not call me so," she said.
"I must not use your name, I must not express my admiration... My rank is standing in the way of my happiness, I think."
"I...I don't know what you mean," Dinah said.
"I think you do. My name is Sebastian," he said. "I've a desire to hear you say it."
"I...I could not, my lord."
"You could," he assured her.
"I will not," she said unable to withdraw her gaze from his.
He gathered her hands within his own elegant fingers. They had neither of them redonned their gloves after eating; it had seemed too restrictive on such a warm and pleasant day. Of its own volition, it seemed, Dinah's right hand lifted to his strong jaw. The faint scrape of stubble against her sensitized fingertips caused a shiver to curl down her spine. She stared up into his hazel eyes, noting absently, as she drowned in his gaze, that the length of his eyelashes would create envy in many a young lady's breast. He seemed as captivated as she was. His broad shoulders bowed protectively as he bent to her and touched, ever so gently, his lips to hers. Her eyes drifted closed. The exquisite pressure of his wide mouth was so entrancing that Dinah felt quite faint with delight. Her hand slid to his shoulder and gripped the long tense muscle there.
After a long dizzying moment, he drew suddenly away.
Horrified and ashamed Dinah sprang back from him. She could not look at him, but interlaced her fingers and stared at them speechlessly.
"I can hardly apologize for something I so much desired and enjoyed," he said at last. "But I do beg your pardon. My intention is not to trifle with your affections. You have my utmost respect and esteem."
"You need not apologize, my lord." She was aware of an urge to speak his name, but restrained herself. "I was not averse to the moment."
At that moment Hamilton galloped up to the temple. "Mama says we should be going," he shouted, "Come along, slow coaches." He seemed to notice nothing amiss between his sister and his hero, and loped away as suddenly as he had come.