Kate nodded again, her cheeks now burning.
But he didn’t much care why she came to visit; he just liked it that she did.She’d been quiet and reserved at first, obviously trying to adhere to the standard that servants should be neither seen nor heard. But Benedict had had none of that, and he’d purposefully engaged her in conversation, just so she couldn’t leave. Or he’d goad and needle her, simply to get a rise out of her, because he liked her far better when she was spitting fire than when she was meek and submissive.
But mostly he just enjoyed being in the same room with her. It didn’t seem to matter if they were talking or if she was just sitting in a chair, leafing through a book while he stared out the window. Something about her presence brought him peace.A sharp knock at the door broke him out of his thoughts, and he looked up eagerly, calling out, Enter!Sophie poked her head in, her shoulder-length curls shaking slightly as they brushed against the edge of the door. Mrs. Crabtree thought you might like tea.
Tea? Or tea and biscuits?Sophie grinned, pushing the door open with her hip as she balanced the tray. Oh, the latter, to be sure. Excellent. And will you join me? She hesitated, as she always did, but then she nodded, as she also always did. She’d long since learned that there was no arguing with Benedict when he had his mind set on something.
Benedict rather liked it that way. The color is back in your cheeks, she commented as she set the tray down on a nearby table. And you don’t look nearly so tired. I should think you’ll be up and out of bed soon,
Oh, soon, I’m sure, he said evasively. You’re looking healthier every day. He smiled gamely. Do you think so? She lifted the teapot and paused before she poured. Yes, she said with an ironic smile. I wouldn’t have said so otherwise.He ignored her. I’ve actually been thinking I ought to provide Edwina with a dowry.
The irony of the gesture was not lost on him. Back when he’d intended to wed Edwina, he’d planned to provide a dowry for Kate.He peeked over at Kate to see her reaction.
He hadn’t, of course, made the offer just to gain her good favor, but he wasn’t so noble that he couldn’t admit to himself that he’d been hoping for a little more than the stunned silence she was displaying.Then he realized she was near tears.