How galling, to be hoodwinked by one's sister. He liked to think himself smarter than that.
He nodded, not terribly warmly, but Penelope thought he made a rather nice effort considering how angry he'd been just moments earlier.Penelope smiled and squeezed his hand, aware that she was about to embark upon the adventure of her life.
CHAPTER 16wYouknow," Eloise said, three days after Colin and Penelope made their surprise announcement, "it's really a pity that Lady Whistledown has retired, because this would have been the coup of the decade."wCertainly from Lady Whistledown's viewpoint," Penelope murmured, lifting her teacup to her lips and keeping her eyes trained on the wall clock in Lady Bridgerton's informal drawing room. Better not to look at Eloise directly. She had a way of noticing secrets in a person's eyes.It was funny. Penelope had gone years without worrying that Eloise would discover the truth about Lady Whistledown. At least, not worrying overmuch. But now that Colin knew, it somehow felt as if her secret were floating about in the air, like particles of dust just waiting to form into a cloud of knowledge.Maybe the Bridgertons were like dominoes. Once one found out, it was only a matter of time before they all fell.wWhat do you mean?" Eloise asked, breaking into Penelope's nervous thoughts.wIf I recall correctly," Penelope said, very carefully, "she once wrote that she would have to retire if I ever married a Bridgerton."
Eloise's eyes bugged out. "She did?"wOr something like that," Penelope said.wYou're joking," Eloise said, making a "pffft" sort of sound as she waved her hand dismissively. "She would never have been that cruel."Penelope coughed, not really thinking that she could end the topic by faking a biscuit crumb in her throat, but trying nonetheless.wNo, really," Eloise persisted. "What did she say?"wI don't recall, precisely."wTry."
Penelope stalled by setting her cup down and reaching for another biscuit. They were alone for tea, which was odd. But Lady Bridgerton had dragged Colin off on some errand regarding the upcoming wedding—set for only a month hence!—and Hyacinth was off shopping with Felicity, who had, upon hearing Penelope's news, thrown her arms around her sister and shrieked her delight until Penelope's ears had gone numb.
As far as sisterly moments went, it had been something wonderful.wWell," Penelope said, chewing on a bite of biscuit, "I believe she said that if I married a Bridgerton, it would be the end of the world as she knew it, and as she wouldn't be able to make heads or tails of such a world, she would have to retire immediately."Then the lid to the coffin clicked open. I didn’t waste a second in rushing out, but he caught up with me before I’d barely even traveled six feet. He gripped me hard by the shoulders from behind, and again, there was absolutely nothing that I could do to escape his grasp.
Where are you taking me? I growled.Wordlessly, he dragged me along the pebbly bank and stopped outside… a door. A door that I hadn’t noticed until now. Constructed of twisted metal, with a handle welded in the shape of a skull, it was fixed into the side of the rocky walls of the cavern. As I eyed its edges—particularly those closest to the handle—I wondered if it was just the dimness playing tricks on my eyes when I noticed the surface was stained with a reddish tinge.
Raising one hand while still holding me tightly with the other, the spirit thunked his fist against the door in three resounding knocks.Silence engulfed us as we waited… for what, I couldn’t even imagine.