Thomas excused himself and followed Grace into the hall. They were still visible from the drawing room, although it was difficult—indeed impossible—to glean their conversation. Whatever can they be discussing? Mr. Audley said, and she could tell from his tone that he knew exactly what they were discussing, and that he knew she did not know, and that he absolutely knew that raising the question would irritate her mightily. I am sure I have no idea, she bit off. Nor I, he said, breezy as always. And then they heard: Ireland! This was Thomas, his voice most uncharacteristically loud. Amelia would like to have known what was uttered next, but Thomas took Graces arm and moved them both to the side, where they were completely out of view. And, apparently, out of earshot as well. We have our answer, Mr. Audley murmured. He cant be upset that his grandmother is leaving the country, Amelia said. I would think hed be planning a celebration. I rather think Miss Eversleigh has informed him that his grandmother intends that he accompany her. To Ireland? Amelia drew back with surprise. Oh, you must be mistaken. He shrugged. Perhaps. I am but a newcomer here. Aside from the fact that I cannot imagine why the dowager would wish to go to Ireland—not, she hastened to add, as she recalled that this was his birthplace, that I wouldnt like to see your beautiful country, but it does not seem in character for the dowager, whom I have heard speak disparagingly of Northumberland, the Lake District, and indeed, all of Scotland. She paused, trying to imagine the dowager enjoying the rigors of travel. Ireland seems a bit of a stretch for her. He nodded graciously. But really, it makes no sense that she would wish for Wyndham to accompany her. They do not care for each others company. How politely said, Lady Amelia. Does anyone care for their company? Her eyes widened in surprise. This was an even clearer declaration that he disliked Thomas. And said in his own house! It was really remarkably impolite. And curious. Just then, Thomas strode back into the room. Amelia, he said rather briskly, I am afraid I will not be able to see you home. I do apologize. Of course, she replied, shooting a look at Mr. Audley, although why she would do so, she wasnt quite sure. I shall make every arrangement for your comfort. Perhaps you would like to select a book from the library? Can you read in a coach? Mr. Audley queried. Can you not? Amelia returned. I can. I can do almost anything in a coach. Or with a coach, he added with an odd smile. Thomas took her arm with a rather surprising firm-ness and pulled her to her feet. It was lovely meeting you, Mr. Audley, Amelia said. Yes, he murmured, it does seem that you are leaving. Amelia, Thomas said curtly, leading her away. Is something wrong? she asked him once they had reached the hall. She looked about for Grace, but she had disappeared. Of course not, he said. Merely matters to which I must attend. Amelia was about to ask about the upcoming trip to Ireland, but for some reason she did not. She wasnt sure why; it was not a conscious decision, more of a feeling than anything else. Thomas seemed so distracted. She did not wish to upset him further. And aside from that, she rather doubted he would answer her honestly if she did ask. He would not lie; that would be entirely out of his character. But he would brush off the query with something vague and conde-scending, and she would lose all the lovely feelings she had gained that morning. Might I take with me one of the atlases? she asked. The trip home would be less than an hour, but she had so enjoyed looking at the maps. It was something they had done together, their heads bowed over the books, their foreheads nearly touching. The outline of a continent, the pale blue shading of an ocean on the page—these would forever make her think of him. As she was riding home, the carriage bumping gently over the ruts in the road, she turned the pages until she found Ireland. She rather liked the shape of it, all flat in the east, then seeming to reach out its arms toward the Atlantic in the west. She would ask Thomas about the trip the next time she saw him. Surely he would not leave the country without telling her. She closed her eyes, picturing his face, conveniently editing out his blackened eye. They had entered a new chapter in their relationship. Of this she was certain. She still did not know why Thomas had been drinking the night before, but she told herself that she did not care. All that mattered was that it had led him to her, and perhaps her to herself. Shed woken up. After years of sleepwalking, shed woken up. Chapter 13 Four days later After his initial shock, Thomas realized that his grandmother had been right about one thing. A trip to Ireland was the only solution to their dilemma. The truth must come out, no matter how unpleasant. Mr. Audley might, with the proper encouragement, be willing to forgo his claim on the title (although Thomas doubted the dowager would allow that to happen). But Thomas knew that he could never find peace if he did not know who he really was. And he did not think he could continue in his position if he knew it rightly belonged to another. Had his entire life been a lie? Had he never been the Duke of Wyndham, never been the heir to it, even?
I needed a place to stay, he replied simply. I hadnt planned on being here this long. Or getting involved with you. I just wanted a warm bed for a few nights.So you are staying for me? Thea asked, as he stepped close to her.
You are one of the reasons I am staying, he admitted, smiling again.He wrapped his arms around her waist and lifted her easily from the floor. With one smooth move, he tossed her lightly on the bed. Then he climbed onto it. With an arm on either side of her, he held himself up, then leaned down to kiss her passionately on the mouth.Thea allowed him to kiss her for a moment, causing heat to burn all the way through her, then she put her hand on his chest and pushed him back.
His smile faltered. Love is not a word that I will easily throw around.Bastian. Please. She stared up at him, searching his blue eyes. Every time I lay with you, I am risking my life. She will certainly kill us both if she finds us together.
So I am risking my life the same as you. If thats not a show of affection, I dont know what is.
Will you not say it? Will you not declare your love to me?What do you mean, those talks? Harper asked.
The kind where you lecture me on everything Im doing wrong.Im not lecturing you, Harper said defensively. Its just… She took a deep breath and tried to start over. Its after ten oclock at night, and play rehearsal was supposed to end two hours ago. Youre lucky that Dad is trusting you again, but I know that rehearsal doesnt run that late.
Because Daniel is narcing on me, Gemma muttered and stared down at the worn rug on the floor.Daniel is not narcing on you. Harper bristled at the accusation. I know because I drove past the theater, and nobodys cars were there. And based on the amount of eyeliner youre wearing and the ridiculously short length of your skirt—