By Mary Balogh
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There was one way in which a dancer might augment her income. Indeed she was almost expected to do so. Verity hid her head beneath the covers once more and tried not to develop the thought. But it had been nagging at her for a week or more. And she had said those words to Mama earlier, almost as if she were preparing the way. Lady Coleman declared that she is pleased with me and is considering raising my salary quite substantially. She had acquired quite a regular court of admirers in the greenroom following each performance.
She was to escape for tonight, then? Part of her felt a knee-weakening relief. Part of her was strangely disappointed. The worst of it might have been over within the hour if, as she had expected, he had reserved a room and had invited her there. She felt a deep dread of the first time. She imagined, perhaps naively, that after that, once it was an accomplished fact, once she was a fallen woman, once she knew how it felt, it would be easier to repeat. But now it seemed that she would have to wait until they left for Norfolkshire before the deed was done.
Why the devil had he drunk so deep? But drunkenness had not brought oblivion. He remembered very well why. That heiress. Miss Plunkett. No, Lady Sarah Plunkett. What a name! And unfortunately the chit had the face and disposition to match it. She was going to be at Conway for Christmas with her mama and papa. Emma, his youngest sister, had mentioned the fact in the letter that had reached him this morning—no, yesterday morning. He had put two and two together without further ado and had come up with the inevitable total of four.