“Not at all,” he said, his eyes enigmatic. “I am not averse to being kissed by pretty girls.” His silver eyes lit up with a wicked glint. “Like to try again?”
“Oh, my lord, I really do not think Lady Mary—”
“No, of course not,” he said quickly, wondering what there was about Miss Colby that gave him this overwhelming desire to flirt.
“Talking about Lady Mary,” he went on, “she is to go into the country tomorrow and this is the last time I shall see her for a few weeks. I must make my way back and enjoy as much of her company as I can.”
He rose to his feet.
“Could… do I have to go back?” asked Amanda.
“No, I will make your excuses for you.” He walked to the doorway and then hesitated. “I do not have any commitments tomorrow. After you say good-bye to your brother, I will show you a little of London if you would like.”
With all my heart and soul, Amanda was about to say, but she managed to bite it back and say demurely, “I should like that above all things.”
“Very well,” he said. “Good night, Miss Colby.”
After he had gone, Amanda pirouetted around the room, overwhelmed with joy about having a protector against the stern Mrs. Fitzgerald and the awkward Susan. But then she remembered those wretched jewels and wished it had all never happened. If only she could move the clock back to the night of the assembly.
She walked from the library and up to the second floor, trying to remember where her bedroom was.
As she passed a door, she heard noisy sounds of crying.
Her hand went to the knob and then dropped. Whatever ailed Susan, Amanda was sure she would not tell a stranger like herself. She wandered along one corridor and then another until she found a servant trimming the lamps and asked him to show her the way.
With the optimism of youth, Amanda decided to forget about the jewels for the moment and simply enjoy the fact that although Richard was going away, she had already found another brother to replace him.
The brother being Lord Hawksborough.
Amanda was still hurt by Richard’s callous unconcern and made a very formal good-bye to him the next morning. To her irritation, Richard was so excited, he did not even seem to notice.
Lord Hawksborough told Amanda to put on her warmest clothes because they would be riding in an open carriage. Mathers, the maid, was miraculously on hand to help her into a blue velvet carriage costume and a Cardinal mantle of black cloth lined and trimmed with white fur. A capote was placed on her head, that bonnet with the soft crown and a stiff brim framing the face. And wonder of wonders, she found herself the proud possessor of a new pair of York tan gloves, those buff-colored suede gloves which were fashionable wear for men and women alike.
Lord Hawksborough was waiting for her in the hall in a many-caped driving coat and with a curly-brimmed beaver set to a nicety on his black curls.
“Where are you going?” demanded Susan’s voice from the first landing.
“I am taking Miss Colby for a drive,” answered Lord Hawksborough.
“Then I am coming too. Wait for me!” shouted Susan.
Amanda looked like a child who has found its birthday has been forgotten.
“Would you rather she did not come?” asked Lord Hawksborough.
“No,” lied Amanda. “I should like it above all things.”
Susan was soon back wearing a lumpy pelisse over a high-ruffed morning gown. Her bonnet had such a huge poke that her face was invisible.
Amanda felt piqued and cross. She had imagined herself cutting a bit of a dash being escorted by the handsome viscount. Now the company of sulky Susan reduced the whole glory of the outing to a schoolgirl expedition.
Amanda had not slept well, which had soured her temper. Used to the quiet of the countryside, she found herself