The Ambassador’s Daughter by Lynn Lorenz
For Brett Butler, following in her father’s footsteps has been easy. When she’s called to take her mother’s place as her father’s, retired space general Jonathan Butler, social secretary, she finds her late mother’s high heels difficult.
Fitting in isn’t Brett’s strong suit, she’s more a leader, but if she’s to find a new life on the planet New Commonwealth among its aristocrats, long gowns, and courtly manners, she’ll have to do a lot of bending.
But what’s a former Old Earth Marine supposed to do, when intrigue, danger and weapons of mass destruction keep getting in the way of her new romance?
And what is Jonathan Butler supposed to do about the lovely Lady Diane, the first woman to tempt him since the death of his beloved wife four years ago?
Especially when Brett’s fallen for Lady Diane’s son, Lord Stephen Brandon.
“Now, Brett. Let’s knock ‘em dead,” Ambassador Jonathan Butler whispered into his daughter’s right ear. She tucked her long black hair behind her ear, a recent habit she’d picked up in order to hear him better.
“Right, sir. Weapons locked and loaded.” She reached out to straighten his red ascot and run her hand down the lapel of his suit. The black tails looked good on him. The man was built to wear a uniform, and it didn’t matter which one it was.
“You present the gifts, Brett. You know I hate that sort of thing.”
“I’d planned on it.”
“It’s only fair after all; you selected them.” He touched her chin with the back of his hand and winked. “I would have brought them something awful, like a stuffed buffalo head.”
“Not the one on the wall of the library back home? That’s your favorite! You wouldn’t have parted with Old Bill, would you?”
“And give up great-great-great Grandfather’s trophy? Not for all the ambassadorships in the galaxy.” He shook his head.
“It’s time to go in.” Brett motioned to the servant who was waiting for them to enter the ballroom.
“Right. Damn the torpedoes,” he intoned in her ear.
“Full speed ahead,” she answered as they stepped through the carved double doors and into the Grand Ballroom.
* * *
“Good Lord, Brandon, who is this?” Johann leaned over to his cousin.
Stephen looked up. The most beautiful woman he’d ever seen stood in the doorway on the arm of an older man; the ambassador from Earth, if he recognized the insignia on the sash correctly.
“I have no idea. The new ambassador’s wife?” Stephen asked. Breathe, boy.
“Lucky bastard.” Johann looked closer. “No, too young. The man must be her father.”
“God, I hope so. I’ll slit my throat if she’s married to him.” Stephen looked for a place to put down his drink. He found an empty tray on a stand and left his glass there. Taking a quick look at himself in the reflective glass of the garden doors, he tried to get that lock of hair that always fell over his brow to stay put.
It seemed his hair did not intend to humor him in his moment of need.
Turning back to the crowd and taking his place at Johann’s side, Stephen watched the young woman and the ambassador make their way toward the ceremony hall, stopping every now and then to speak to various people.
“Stop her, Cousin. Introduce us, in the name of God and my grandfather,” Stephen whispered hoarsely.
“Practically no difference there.” Johann snorted. “You’re pathetic, Cousin. The first fresh pretty face you see in a year, and you’re falling over yourself to get to her. Look around, man. You’re not the only one.” Johann motioned with his drink around the ballroom. Conversation in the room had halted as everyone turned and stared at the pair.
“Good Lord! Has she no sense of propriety?” Helena joined her husband to stand at his elbow. “What is she wearing?”
Stephen took his eyes off the stranger’s face and looked at her clothes. The suit she wore looked like some sort of leather, black and white with silver buttons. Long fringe ran down the underarms and across the back of her long fitted jacket and dangled from the hem of her knee-length riding skirt to the tops of her boots. Her black-tooled boots were trimmed in silver on the toes and heels.
Stephen’s face broke into a wide grin. “A riding skirt and boots, I believe.”
“Good Lord,” Helena said with a gasp.
The young woman had pulled her waist length black hair back on one side and held it in place with a silver and turquoise jeweled comb. The other side fell loose. The color of the turquoise matched perfectly her blue-green eyes.
“Well, she’s like no one I’ve ever seen,” Johann admitted.
“She’s so exotic,” Stephen murmured. “So very off world.”
“She’ll never fit in here. She’s doomed,” Helena declared, and everyone nodded.
“Then, we must save her.” Stephen stepped forward.