Bast had lifted his arm to spin his dance partner.
Pleasantly oblivious at that moment.
Elsabet caught the glint of a gold chain falling over his collar and dangling just beneath those laces. Stark against his tanned skin. The candlelight caught the shimmer of a gold ornament on the chain. Nestled against his defined chest. A serpent twining a thick cross.
The one thing she needed for her to return home. To Sanctuary Island.
Even now she was calculating his next step.
Her plan was simple: She'd intercept him as he turned in step with the dance, she'd hook the pendant on her claw and let his movements tear it off him. Freeing it into her waiting hand.
Already hanging open, his shirt would offer little resistance.
Amulet in hand she'd exit the dance floor. Likely while he stood in surprise.
Her detail in LandingTown settled. And free to return home.
Elsabet watched him, nearly shaking with intensity. Anticipation heightening as he danced closer. She was already reaching, waiting for his flowing movements to place the amulet in her grasp.
Instead, he released the brunette and abruptly faced her. Sparking gold eyes focused on her.
His hair settled around his face and back over his shoulders in a tawny cloud that caught the firelight of the chandeliers and illuminated over his gold skin. Making him hypnotic to look at. Those eyes which had been nearly aqua a moment ago now glowed animalistically.
They changed color?
He blinked slowly. Waiting to see what she'd do.
Jaw agape she froze a second before her brows descended. Her look accusing.
Still unsure why she wanted his dragon's eye amulet, he swept her hesitantly outstretched hand into his and twirled her.
Suddenly incorporated into the dance, it took every ounce of her rapid reflexes to move in step with the group.
She didn't know how to dance. Never had a need to.
Not in years, anyway.
The woman previously dancing with him expostulated in enraged profanity.
Elsabet's focus was this man, whom, had abruptly change from docile prey to glaring at her predatorily.
They stared each other down, unblinkingly.
For the first time, she felt as though an enemy, an equal, assessed her as she did him.
When he pulled her close to turn her again, claws rent from her fingertips to shred his shirt and grasp the amulet.
She jerked it violently. Snapping the chain.
His eyes narrowed on her.
Spinning on her heel, she dissolved into the crowd. Moving through the throng, they exited into the dark.
Elsabet paused to glance behind her. Finding herself facing the stranger again.
His features were perfection, an aristocratic nose framed by arched brows and vivacious green-blue eyes. His square jaw was ornamented with a broad mobile mouth.
He tipped a brow in challenge. "I believe that's mine..."
Not now. Fool.
Tossing an elbow into those handsome features, she made crushing contact.
Stepping back, he scowled at her. His hand moving to his nose and eyeing the blood collected on his fingertips before lifting to set on her with steely determination.
Not quite the loud objection I'd expected. She frowned at his calm response.
Climbing into the coach, she was appalled when he leapt in as well. Despite the footman's objections, he shouted for the driver to go.
How dare you bid my servants! Elsabet was livid when the man dared comply with this stranger's order.
He'll be fired upon return to the country home. She decided.
For now, I have to deal with this dreadful creature. She scowled across the carriage. He's quickly become more of a nuisance then he's worth.
"Get out of my coach." She enunciated the words.
He stared at her unblinkingly. Refusing.
Seeming displeasingly unafraid of Elsabet's hard tone.
A tone that normally sent creatures instinctively scurrying into the shadows.
"Why are you stealing from me?" He cocked his head.
"Get out of my coach, My Lord!" She ordered, voice brooking no argument.
"Lord Bodane, My Lady." He calmly corrected. "I suggest you answer me." Gaze unwavering, he stared her down.
"I suggest you get. Out. Of. My. Coach." Her head tipped in warning. "I'll not say it again."
He didn't budge.
"You've no idea what you're dealing with."
His eyes narrowed at her cautioning words. "Heed your own words, My Lady..."