Edwina’s eyes, which were usually compared to peaceful Scottish lochs, glinted devilishly. You’re awfully interested in the viscount, Kate. Is there something you’re not telling us?
Anthony Bridgerton had always known he would die young.Oh, not as a child. Young Anthony had never had cause to ponder his own mortality. His early years had been a young boy’s perfection, right from the very day of his birth.
It was true that Anthony was the heir to an ancient and wealthy viscountcy, but unlike most other aristocratic couples, Lord and Lady Bridgerton were very much in love, and they saw their son’s birth not as the arrival of an heir, but rather that of a child.And so there were no parties, no fêtes, no celebration other than that of mother and father staring in wonderment at their new son.The Bridgertons were young parents—Edmund barely twenty and Violet just eighteen—but they were sensible and they were strong, and they loved their son with a fierceness and devotion that was rarely seen in their social circles. Much to her own mother’s horror, Violet insisted upon nursing the boy herself, and Edmund never subscribed to the prevailing attitude that fathers should neither see nor hear their children. He took the infant on long hikes across the fields of Kent, spoke to him of philosophy and poetry before he could possibly understand the words, and told him a bedtime story every night.
Because the viscount and viscountess were so young and so very much in love, it came as no surprise to anyone when, just two years after Anthony’s birth, he was joined by a younger brother, christened Benedict. Edmund immediately adjusted his daily routine to take two sons on his hikes, and he spent a week holed up in the stables, working with his leatherworker to devise a special pack that would hold Anthony on his back while he held the baby Benedict in his arms.They walked across fields and streams, and he told them of wondrous things, of perfect flowers and clear blue skies, of knights in shining armor and damsels in distress. Violet used to laugh when they returned all windblown and sun-kissed, and Edmund would say, See? Here is our damsel in distress. Clearly we must save her. And Anthony would throw himself into his mother’s arms, giggling as he swore he’d protect her from the fire-breathing dragon they’d seen just two miles down the road in the village.
Two miles down the road in the village? Violet would breathe, keeping her voice carefully laden with horror.
Heaven above, what would I do without three strong men to protect me?Benedict frowned. His mother had been uncharacteristically reserved these past few weeks when it came to her opinions on Benedict and marriage and why the two ought to meet and soon. Of course, Benedict had been avoiding his mother’s house like the plague, but even before that, she’d not mentioned a word.
At any rate, Colin was still grumbling, I am not going to marry soon, and I am certainly not going to marry Penelope Featherington!It was a feminine oh, and without looking up, Benedict somehow knew that he was about to experience one of life’s most awkward moments. Heart filled with dread, he lifted his head and turned toward the front door. There, framed perfectly in the open doorway, was Penelope Featherington, her lips parted with shock, her eyes filled with heartbreak.
And in that moment, Benedict realized what he’d probably been too stupid (and stupidly male) to notice: Penelope Featherington was in love with his brother.Colin cleared his throat. Penelope, he squeaked, his voice sounding as if he’d regressed ten years and gone straight back to puberty, uh... good to see you. He looked to his brothers to leap in and save him, but neither chose to intervene.
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