Carte Blanche (Camille Anthony in Charming the Snake) – Chapter Two

Chapter Two starts with Dare’s point of view – he’s at the party, drinking as much champagne as possible, waiting for someone named Crofton.

Lifting his glass, he tossed back the high-priced bubbly, barely tasting it, his disregard an insult to the years spent in perfecting its exquisite bouquet. [Oh, I bet, all the champagne ever does while fermenting (does champagne ferment?) is trying to be as perfect as possible. It’s all will power…]

But he decides that champagne will not do tonight, it has to be either stronger alcohol or sex. As alcohol leaves you hung-over, sex it is. He starts casually to skim the crowd, looking for the right person. Because of his notoriety, he’s irresistible to women, he just will have to chose which one will have the honour of spreading her legs for him.

Years of debauchery had honed his senses where women were concerned. His chest rose on a deep inhalation. He could smell the subtle aroma of sexual arousal a room away, even when masked by the strongest perfume. [What the fuck is wrong with those people and their sense of smell???]

While checking out all the women, he goes emo on us, telling us that he’s only an emotionless shell, and he’s so very empty inside and that he cuts himself just to feel anything.

We are saved by the arrival of Crofton:

Chezann Crofton, earl of Rotham — C.C. to his friends — grinned. Smiling, he looked too innocent to be friends with the notorious Dare Acer. His dark morning-glory-blue [I really can’t picture that colour…] eyes and his fair complexion were a gift from his mother. So was the thick blond hair, gleaming with highlights of platinum, that tumbled over his high brow and cascaded down his shoulders to be caught back in a thin black leather ribbon. [Leave me alone with the long hair. I like short hair. I really do.] But the chiseled profile, the cleft chin, the full, perfectly curved lips were the genetic legacy of his publicly sanctimonious father, the earl of Chesley. Even his height and muscular physique was a match for Dare’s, and those with discerning eyes easily saw the familial resemblance. Chezann was a golden, angelic copy of the darkly demonic Dare. [Oh, behold the good twin/evil twin!]

C.C. is “[t]he unacknowledged son of his adulterous mother’s noble lover”, his mother referring to C.C.’s mother. And the noble lover is Dare’s father. I think. Long story short, they’re half brothers.

Well, C.C. grew up with mother and stepfather and when the stepfather died, he more or less got rid of his mother [don’t ask me why. I guess she must be evil, because she’s adulterous and only deserves to be put on the street] and started to befriend his bad boy half-brother to annoy his bio-father. As to why he would want to do that, I don’t know. Anyways, they’re friends now.

Dare asks why C.C. wanted him to come to the ball and C.C. tells him that he wants him to meet someone, a very special girl, who might be the one for C.C. Dare starts to make fun of CC [I’ll leave out the dots, you know that they are supposed to be there] until he realises that CC is being perfectly serious. He promises to be nice and that’s when Chassy reaches them.

Awkward introductions are followed by

Dare turned to greet his brother’s new interest and time stopped. The world went away. [Where did it go? And if it’s away, where are you?] At six feet, six inches, Dare was used to feeling like a giant around the ladies, but this goddess’s autumn-highlighted curls [goddess? autumn-highlighted? Apart from the fact that I wonder how curls can be autumn-highlightes, I doubt that a guy would think like that.] didn’t even clear his shoulders. He would have to bend far to meet her moist pink lips. Better to lift her up to him. [Hellooo? Love of your half-brother/best friend/only person you care about! Pull yourself together, will you?]

After observing that her eyes are “alive with humour and sexual awareness”, he manages to tell her what a misguided name Chastity is [you see, he agrees with me], topped of with some greek mythical references.

He kisses her hand (and I mean really kisses her, not those smacks in the air stuff) and asks her why she said that she’s happy to finally meet him. [All the while CC stands next to them and probably plots the assassination of his brother.]

“I despaired of ever finding you,” she informed him, her words coming low and airy, as if she could not catch her breath. [Corsett?] Beneath the veil of her evening gown, her chest rose and fell, her breasts quivered, and her nipples sharpened against the confines of her tight bodice. [Ouch?] “For years, I have seen you in my dreams –”
“Are you sure you do not mean nightmares?” Chezann snapped, anger cracking his voice. His harsh words shocked Dare back into a realization of their surroundings. He lifted his head and met his brother’s gaze.
The young earl glared at him, his handsome face sullen with anger at his brother’s betrayal. He snarled. “I did not mean her for you, Dare!” [Well, you don’t get to decide that, do you? That’s Chassy’s decision.]
“I know, C.C.,” Dare answered softly, turning his head to address his brother, but keeping his eyes locked with hers. “Yet, she is…mine .” [Gnaaahhh… I don’t know why anybode thinks it’s romantic when you say that something’s yours… My books are mine, but I don’t want to sleep with them (well, not all of them). My clothes are mine, but I don’t want to live with them till the end of time. Possession is not the same thing as love, it is, in fact a disturbing, pathological way to express your feelings.]

In this case, though, Chassy’s equally possessive and if they want to possess each other, fine by me.

Well, CC sees the looks of crazy passing between the two of them and backs off. Dare, who apparently never had dreams about Chassy, is amazed about the strong attraction he feels towards her. And Chassy is happy and drags Dare off into the garden. Which, while it might inspire incredulous gasps, is more normal in this otherwise so restrictive society than I thought it would be.

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