Brent was trained to notice things. The tiniest telltale flicker in Sophie’s beautiful eyes when their gazes met gave her true feelings away when her fiancé touched her. The barely noticeable stiffening of her body after Lord removed his lips sent up a warning flag Brent couldn’t ignore. His gaze narrowed, not missing the way her hand trembled slightly as she brought the champagne glass to her rose-colored mouth.
The lady was definitely repulsed by Lord’s touch. Either that or she loathed public displays, which he quickly dismissed. If Lord noticed anything, he ignored it, too arrogant and self-assured. Yet Brent’s instincts told him he knew exactly what Sophie’s reaction was to his touch and that he was taking secret pleasure in it.
Some men got off on forcing their unwanted attentions on a woman when they knew it wasn’t reciprocated. For some reason, those ungrounded thoughts sent a rush of anger through Brent; the conversation he’d had with Senator Adams two days before coming back to him. Was he correct in his theory that Sophie was being blackmailed into marriage?
Brent knew enough about Jonathan Lord’s reputation to know the man never took no for an answer. When he wanted something, he got it by whatever means available to him. He was shrewd in his business dealings, lucky with his money investments, and thrived on power, most especially the kind he’d acquire once he and Sophie were married.
Add that to the several high-ranking politicians already in his hip pocket and the man was set for life. It was rumored he was good at digging up dirt; the kind people in high places paid a lot of money to keep from becoming public. Of course no one was brave enough to come right out and accuse him of blackmail, which made Lord a dangerous man as far as Brent was concerned. The kind a person would have to be a fool to cross, unless they were an influential senator.
Senator Adams had a bulldog reputation of standing his own ground when he wanted something too. He got results. If he suspected Sophie was being blackmailed into marrying Lord, he would do anything to find out what Lord’s leverage was in order to prevent it, not excluding kidnapping. The million-dollar question was what did Lord have on Sophie that would force her to marry him against her will?
His gaze traveled over her again, more leisurely this time, wondering what secrets the lady was hiding. One thing was certain though, that gown she was wearing wasn’t hiding any of them. As he watched the exchange between her and Lord closely, he reached for another glass of champagne, preferring something stronger like a shot of whiskey. Taking a sip, his gaze narrowed on the way she rolled her shoulder out from under Lord’s caressing hand, the action causing Brent’s mouth to curve into a knowing smile.