He had not liked seeing her so upset. He was only now realizing just how much.

He watched as she tried to decide what to do. She wasn’t sure whether she could trust him—he could see that much in her face. She peered out the window, but only briefly, then settled back into her seat, still facing forward. Her lips trembled, and finaly, in a voice so quiet and halting it nearly broke his heart, she said, “There is someone . . . I don’t wish to see.”

Nothing more. No explanation, no elaboration, nothing but an eight-word sentence that brought forth a thousand new questions. He asked none of them, though.

He would, just not yet. She wouldn’t have answered him, anyway. He was astonished that she’d said as much as she had.

“Let us leave the area, then,” he said, and she nodded gratefuly. They headed east on Piccadily—absolutely the wrong direction, but then again, precisely what Daniel had instructed the driver. Miss Wynter needed time to compose herself before she returned to Pleinsworth House.

And he was not quite ready to relinquish her company.

Anne stared out the window as the minutes roled by. She wasn’t sure where they were, and honestly, she didn’t realy care. Lord Winstead could be taking her to Dover and she wouldn’t mind, just so long as they were far, far away from Piccadily.

Piccadily and the man who might have been George Chervil.

Sir George Chervil, she supposed he was now. Charlotte’s letters did not arrive with the regularity Anne craved, but they were breezy and newsy and Anne’s only link to her former life. George’s father had died the year before, Charlotte had written, and George had inherited the baronetcy. The news had made Anne’s blood run cold. She had despised the late Sir Charles, but she had also needed him. He had been the only thing keeping his son’s vengeful nature in check. With Sir Charles gone, there was no one to talk sense into him. Even Charlotte had expressed concern; apparently George had paid a call on the Shawcrosses the day after his father’s funeral. He had tried to paint it as a neighborly afternoon cal, but Charlotte thought that he had asked far too many questions about Anne.

Annelise.

Sometimes she had to remind herself of the person she’d once been.

She’d known there was the possibility that George might be in London. When she’d taken the position with the Pleinsworths, it had been under the assumption that she would remain in Dorset year round. Lady Pleinsworth would take Sarah to town for the season, and the three younger girls would spend the summer in the country with their governess and nurse. And father, of course. Lord Pleinsworth never left the country. He was far more interested in his hounds than he’d ever been in people, which suited Anne just fine. If he wasn’t absent, he was distracted, and it was almost as if she were working in an al-female household.

Which was wonderful.

But then Lady Pleinsworth had decided she couldn’t do without all of her daughters, and while Lord Pleinsworth pondered his bassets and bloods, the household packed up and departed for London. Anne had spent the entire trip reassuring herself that even if George did come to town they would never cross paths. It was a big city. The largest in Europe. Maybe the world. George might have married the daughter of a viscount, but the Chervils did not move in the same lofty circles as the Pleinsworths or Smythe-Smiths. And even if they did find themselves at the same event, Anne certainly would not be in attendance. She was just the governess. The hopefuly invisible governess.

still, it was a danger. If Charlotte’s gossip was true, George received a generous alowance from his wife’s father. He had more than enough money to pay for a season in town. Maybe even enough to buy his way into a few of the top social circles.

He’d always said he liked the excitement of the city. She remembered that about him. She’d managed to forget many things, but that she remembered. That, along with a young girl’s dream of promenading in Hyde Park on her handsome husband’s arm.

She sighed, mourning the young girl but not her foolish dream. What an idiot she had been. What an abysmal judge of character.

“Is there anything I can do to make you more comfortable?” Lord Winstead asked quietly. He had not spoken for some time. She liked that about him. He was an affable man, easy in conversation, but he seemed to know when not to speak.

She shook her head, not quite looking at him. She wasn’t trying to avoid him. Wel, not him specificaly. She would have avoided anyone at that moment. But then he moved. It was just a small thing, realy, but she felt the seat cushion adjusting beneath them, and it was enough to remind her that he had rescued her this afternoon. He had seen her distress and saved her without so much as a question until they’d reached the carriage.

He deserved her thanks. It did not matter if her hands were still trembling or her mind was still racing with every dreadful possibility. Lord Winstead would never know just how much he had helped her, or even how much she appreciated it, but she could, at least, say thank you.

But when she turned to look at him, something else entirely popped out of her mouth. She’d meant to say, Thank you. But instead—

“Is that a new bruise?”

It was. She was sure of it. Right there on his cheek. A bit pinkish, not nearly as dark as the ones near his eye.

It was. She was sure of it. Right there on his cheek. A bit pinkish, not nearly as dark as the ones near his eye.

“You hurt yourself,” she said. “What happened?”

He blinked, looking rather confused, and one of his hands came up to touch his face.

“The other side,” she said, and even though she knew it was terribly risqué, she reached out with her fingers and gently touched his cheekbone. “It was not there yesterday.”

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