Last Night's Scandal
kind.” He’d do worse, Olivia thought. He’d had time to brood over the grievous injury she’d done his pride. By now he’d probably composed a very boring and irritating lecture.
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    “We’re not scheduled to stop,” she told him. “Not until—” She glanced down at her Paterson’s. “Not until Buntingford.”
    “I want to show you something,” he said.
    She leaned forward and looked out of the door to her right, then to her left. “There’s nothing to see,” she said.
    Except an excessively handsome man sitting as easily upon a hired horse as if it had been part of him.
    “Don’t be tiresome,” he said.
    “Lud, don’t be tiresome, child,” said Lady Cooper. “Let the boy show you his what’s-it.”
    “I could do with a pause,” said Lady Withcote. “I should like a moment to close my eyes, without being jounced and jostled. Such a head I have. Must have been something I ate.” Olivia turned away from the door to look at them.
    “Don’t you want to see what it is he wants to show you?” Lady Cooper said.
    Olivia disembarked.
    The ladies leaned forward to watch the proceedings through the open door.
    Olivia walked up to him. She stroked his horse’s muzzle, while aware, out of the corner of her eye, of the muscled leg nearby.
    “You said you never get to see the sights,” he said. “There’s one down that turning on the left.”
    A little surprised, she looked at the signpost he indicated. Then she looked up at him.
    “I’m not going to take you to a desolate place and murder you,” he said. “Not here and now, at any rate. Were I to take you away and return without you, the ladies might notice.
    Bailey would, certainly. We’re going only a short distance. We could easily walk, but these country lanes will be knee deep in mud. You can ride Nichols’s horse.” She held up her hand before Nichols could dismount. “No, stay as you are. I can ride behind his lordship.”
    “No, you can’t,” Lisle said.
    “We’re going a short distance, you said,” she said. “It makes no sense to spend time making a dozen adjustments, to get me properly seated on Nichols’s horse—adjustments he’ll have to go to all the bother of readjusting later. I can be up behind you in a minute.” He looked at her. He looked at Nichols.
    Despite having been caught in a downpour, the valet remained elegant and unflappable.
    Though he wouldn’t show it, he’d die a thousand deaths on the inside, rearranging his saddle for her. She saw no reason to torture him. He hadn’t insulted and hurt her.
    “What worries you?” she said to Lisle. “Are you afraid I’ll knock you off your horse?”
    “I’m a little afraid you’ll stick a knife in my back,” he said. “Swear to me that you’re not armed.”
    “Don’t be absurd,” she said. “I would never stab you in the back. That would be dishonorable. I would stab you in the neck or in the heart.”
    “Very well, then.” He kicked his left foot free of the stirrup. Olivia put her left foot into the stirrup, took hold of his arm, gave a hop, and sprang up behind him.
    “Deuce take the girl!” Lady Withcote cried. “I never could do that!” Page 52
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    “You were agile in other ways, Millicent,” said her friend.
    Meanwhile, Olivia realized she’d made a grave error of judgment.
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    Chapter 6
    S he’d acted unthinkingly, and why not?
    Olivia was as much at ease on a horse as any gypsy.
    She’d ridden behind her father time without number.
    But that was her father, and that was when she was a little girl.
    Lisle wasn’t her father. She’d ridden behind him once or twice, but that was ages ago, before he’d become so excessively masculine.
    It hadn’t dawned on her to cling to his

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