Mr. and Mrs. John Dashwood had travelled from Sussex and accepted the hospitality of the Middletons for the duration of the wedding-tide. Mr. Dashwood seemed quite unlike his sisters, more impressed by the status of his host and an unsettling curiosity regarding Delaford. The Mrs. John Dashwood, neeFrances Ferrars, exhibited every outward sign of good breeding yet displayed sensibilities most unappealing.
As was her wont, Lady Middleton hosted a most auspicious dinner party in honor of the betrothed couple, Mr. Edward Ferrars and Miss Elinor Dashwood. Seating was coordinated by none other than her mother, and Mrs. Jennings was delighted to seat Colonel Brandon to the left hand of Miss Marianne; and both opposite the betrothed couple.
Shortly into the main course, as Marianne reached for her linen, a soft sneeze overtook her. The linen fell to the floor between herself and Christopher. Attentive to her distress, he leaned to his right to retrieve it as she leaned to her left to do the same. Their hands brushed upon one another, and though he was successful in the retrieval, Marianne brushed her fingers over his knuckles in an effort to reach the cloth.
A sensation most vexing flowed through his veins. Brandon stilled his breath as he turned to Marianne to return the lost item and noticed the lightest of a flush flow from her cheeks to her décolletage, and a look that conveyed the touch unintentional, yet most excitable.