He paused. This wasn’t what he’d expected, although he couldn’t have said what he did expect.
Miss Bridgerton was standing next to him now; he had not even realized she’d got up from the table.Captain James? she said again. Are you all right?
Sorry. He gave himself a mental shake. I was just thinking . . . Well, honestly, there was no reason not to tell her the truth. I was thinking about my family.Ah yes, your brother, she said, her eyes crinkling with something approaching mischief. The one who does not exaggerate. Married to a gruesome hater of strawberries.And just like that, she made him laugh. I assure you, she’s hardly gruesome. You’d like her, actually. She—
He stopped. He’d been about to tell her how Cecilia had crossed an ocean to look for her wounded brother, how she had feigned marriage to a man who had lost his memory so that she might continue to nurse him through his injuries. Cecilia had not thought herself particularly daring or headstrong—she still didn’t—and she often said that she’d be happy never to travel more than fifty miles from her home again. But when she needed it—when others had needed it—she had found her strength.But he could not reveal more information about his family. He shouldn’t even have mentioned Edward’s name, but honestly, what family didn’t have an Edward in a recent branch of their tree? If he started talking about George and Nicholas and Mary, however . . . That combination of names was considerably more distinctive. And with the aforementioned George married to Poppy’s cousin Billie . . .
Do you miss them? Miss Bridgerton asked.
My family? Of course. All the time.There was that British lord lingo again. I dropped my eyes to the table and sighed. Yeah, I could, I said. But when someone hurts you, is it right to hurt them back? I could, sure, but then I’d be stooping to his level. And while that would be very satisfying... I don’t know. That’s not who I want to be.
His eyes flickered. Good answer.I suddenly got the strong impression Jonathan knew exactly what I was talking about. Let’s change the subject. How did you meet your wife?
He looked up, then back down at his roll. We were childhood friends.Did you take her to the prom?