He took a seat next to her on the settee and looked at her as if she were the only person in the room. “How is your ankle?”
Bennett’s nearness emptied her mind of all coherent thought. “My ankle?” she repeated.
He gestured to her feet resting on a footstool. “The one you twisted last night?”
“Oh, that ankle.” She let out a weak laugh. “Still sore, I’m afraid.”
He nodded. “I’d planned to invite you to go riding with me, but it looks as though we’ll need to wait until your ankle heals.”
In the daytime? How much sunlight could he take? Even with his darkened glasses, surely not much. Just how powerful was he? Or perhaps the belief that sunlight burned a vampire’s skin was false.
His dark gaze penetrated her eyes straight into her soul. “You wouldn’t mind being seen with me, would you?”
“Seen with you?”
He smiled. “Any particular reason why you’re repeating everything I ask you?”
“Ah…” No, no particular reason, except she was so confused. She loved and trusted the old Bennett. And she loved this new dark Bennett. But could she give him her trust?
She drew a breath and took herself in hand. “Forgive me. My injured ankle appears to have had some effect on my wit. No, of course I don’t mind being seen with you. I would love to go riding with you when I’m able.” Perhaps if she went riding with him, she could decide what must be done.
Bennett listened, watching her intently, as if he would rather do nothing else. She’d always loved that about him.
“We could ride by carriage instead of horseback,” he said. “I have a new team I’d like to show you. I assume you’re still horse-mad?”
She smiled and tossed her head saucily. “I am, and my father still refuses to take me to Tattersalls.”
He frowned. “Certainly not. No place for a lady.”
“He allows me to go with him from time to time when he attends auctions in Ireland.”
“I suppose that can be overlooked, even by a sophisticated gentleman as I.” A self-deprecating smile touched his mouth.
“How fortunate for me,” she said dryly.
They shared a smile, and for a moment, all thoughts of his being a vampire evaporated in his sheer masculine presence. Her heart thudded erratically, and she couldn’t drag her gaze off his mouth. They had never kissed—not even when she’d pledged herself to him. What would it be like to kiss Bennett? Would he be smooth as silk? Forceful, even rough? Or would he be infinitely gentle?