Suddenly Sir Phillip’s bold proposal—tucked away at the very bottom of her bundle, at the bottom of the middle drawer, locked away in a newly purchased safebox, just so that Eloise wouldn’t be tempted to look at it six times a day—well, it seemed a bit more intriguing.
Phillip arched a brow as he inclined his head toward Romney Hall. Are you calling my ancestral home drafty?All ancestral homes are drafty.
True enough, Phillip said with a grin. He rather liked Miles. He’d hired him six months earlier to help with the mountains of paperwork and details that seemed to accumulate from the running of his small property. Miles was quite good. Young, but good. And his dry sense of humor was certainly welcome in a house where laughter was never in abundance. The servants would never dare joke with Phillip, and Marina . . . well, it went without saying that Marina did not laugh or tease.The children sometimes made Phillip laugh, but that was a different sort of humor, and besides, most of the time he did not know what to say to them. He tried, but then he felt too awkward, too big, too strong, if such a thing were possible. And then he just found himself shooing them off, telling them to go back to their nurse.It was easier that way.
Go on, then, Phillip said, sending Miles off on a task he probably should have done himself. He hadn’t seen his children yet today, and he supposed he ought to, but he didn’t want to spoil the day by saying something stern, which he inevitably seemed to do.He’d find them while they were off on their nature walk with Nurse Millsby. That would be a good idea. Then he could point out some sort of plant and tell them about it, and everything would remain perfectly simple and benign.
Phillip entered his greenhouse and shut the door behind him, taking a welcome breath of the moist air. He’d studied botany at Cambridge, taken a first, even, and in truth, he’d probably have taken up an academic life if his older brother had not died at Waterloo, thrusting the second-born Phillip into the role of landowner and country gentleman.
He supposed it could have been worse. He could have been landowner and city gentleman, after all. At least here he was able to pursue his botanical pursuits in relative serenity.There was something mesmerizing about the moment, and she couldn’t take her eyes off of him. He was breathing hard, obviously still struggling to control his anger, and he was, she realized with curiosity, not entirely there. He was staring at some far off horizon, his eyes unfocused, and he looked almost…
Michael? she whispered.Michael? This time, she reached out and touched him, and he flinched, whipping around so quickly that she stumbled backward.
What is it? he asked gruffly.Nothing, she stammered, not certain what it was she’d meant to say, not even certain if she’d had something to say other than his name.