What had emerged hours later had made Perry’s eyes widen in appreciation – and made Christian frown. Deanna still didn’t understand the frown. Sheila had the pouty look of a Twenties film siren: attractive, plump features and an hourglass figure that nudged the line between generous and plump. Before her marriage, Deanna had been a stylist in an exclusive boutique, transforming women just like Sheila into princesses, just in time for the ball. Sheila was breathtaking, reminiscent of Clara Bow, The It Girl of the Twenties – and in fact, Deanna had kept Clara Bow in mind, down to the very dress Sheila wore tonight, a frothy concoction loosely styled around the flapper dress.
The strains of music came from the dance floor, a stringed ensemble playing swing tunes at a volume that was perfect at Deanna’s distant table. Sheila cast a longing glance toward the dance floor, where couples were already swaying. Once again, Christian ignored the cue.
“Perry, would you dance with Sheila? That dress is not made to be parked in a chair all evening.”
Her thinly veiled censure made Christian’s mouth twitch, but she couldn’t tell whether it was in amusement or annoyance. He made no move to step in, simply watched without expression as Sheila led an unprotesting Perry through the clustered tables to the dance floor.
“She looks very lovely, Deanna.” He speaks! It was the first time he had directly addressed her since she and Perry had arrived. “But it might have been a mistake.”
“I asked you to escort her, not marry her.” Deanna smiled.
Christian nudged a green olive back and forth across the linen-clad table several times, and then abruptly rolled to his feet. “Excuse me for a moment. I see someone I need to speak with.”
He was gone before she could reply. Deanna stared after him for a moment as he cut through the crowd, broad shouldered, straight-backed, so damned detached from his surroundings and companions, and then her eyes sought out her husband and Sheila. Perry was leading her through some simple swing dances, and they were both laughing at Sheila’s botched attempts to follow his lead.
At least someone appreciated Sheila’s transformation.
“God, I’m glad that’s over. Do you businessmen ever have a social function that isn’t all about business and designed to bore your dates to tears?”
Perry chuckled as he unknotted his tie and laid it neatly over the back of his bedside chair. “It’s always about business, Deanna. A company representative who works on commission can’t afford to let a networking opportunity pass.”
“Well, I wish there wasn’t one every two weeks. I don’t think I can stand the boredom.” She let her dress – a simple black sheath, always in style – float to the floor and struck a pin-up pose that made him waggle his eyebrows.