He liked knowing things about her.
“You didn’t say what you were smiling about,” she said, gently puling the sheet back up and tucking it under her arm.
“I was thinking,” he said, “that I rather like it that your hair is not quite long enough to cover your breasts.” This time he did see her blush, even in the dark.
“You did ask,” he murmured.
They fell into a companionable silence, but soon Daniel saw worry lines begin to form on Anne’s forehead. He wasn’t surprised when she asked, softly, “What happens now?”
He knew what she was asking, but he didn’t want to answer. Snuggled together in his four-poster bed with the canopy puled closed around them, it was easy to pretend that the rest of the world did not exist. But morning would come soon enough, and with it, all of the dangers and cruelties that had brought her to this point.
“I will pay a call upon Sir George Chervil,” he finaly said. “I trust it will not be difficult to determine his address.”
“Where will I go?” she whispered.
“You will stay here,” Daniel said firmly. He could hardly believe she’d think he’d alow her to go anywhere else.
“But what will you tell your family?”
“The truth,” he said. Then, when her eyes widened with shock, he quickly added, “Some of it. There is no need for anyone to know precisely where you slept tonight, but I will have to tell my mother and sister how you came to be here without so much as a change of clothing. Unless you can think of a reasonable story.”
“No,” she agreed.
“Honoria can lend you a wardrobe, and with my mother here as chaperone, it will not be untoward in the least for you to be instaled in one of our guest bedrooms.”
For a split second she looked as if she might protest, or perhaps suggest an alternative plan. But in the end she nodded.
“I will see to a special license right after I see to Chervil,” Daniel said.
“A special license?” Anne echoed. “Aren’t they terribly extravagant?”
He nudged a little closer. “Do you realy think I’m going to be able to wait a proper engagement period?” He nudged a little closer. “Do you realy think I’m going to be able to wait a proper engagement period?” She started to smile.
“Do you realy think you can wait?” he added huskily.
“You’ve turned me into a wanton,” she whispered.
He puled her against him. “I can’t quite summon the will to complain.”
As he kissed her, he heard her whisper, “I can’t, either.”
All would be right with the world. With a woman like this in his arms, how could it be otherwise?
The folowing day, after getting Anne settled as a proper guest in his household, Daniel set out to pay a call upon Sir George Chervil.
As expected, it hadn’t been difficult to find his address. He lived in Marylebone, not far from his father-in-law’s Portman Square residence. Daniel knew who Viscount Hanley was; indeed, Daniel had been at Eton at the same time as two of Hanley’s sons. The connection was not terribly deep, but the family would know who he was. If Chervil did not come around to his way of thinking with appropriate speed, Daniel had every confidence that a call upon his father-in-law—who undoubtedly controled the purse strings, including the deed for the tidy little Marylebone home upon whose steps Daniel was now ascending—would do the trick.
Within moments of knocking on the front door, Daniel was ushered into a sitting room decorated in muted shades of green and gold. A few minutes later, a woman came in. From her age and attire, he could only deduce that she was Lady Chervil, the viscount’s daughter George Chervil had chosen to marry instead of Anne.
“My lord,” Lady Chervil said, offering him an elegant curtsy. She was quite pretty, with light brown curls and clear, peaches-and-cream skin. She could not compare to Anne’s dramatic beauty, but then again, few could. And Daniel was, perhaps, somewhat biased.
“Lady Chervil,” he said in return. She looked surprised by his presence, and more than a little bit curious. Her father was a viscount, so she must be used to receiving high-ranking visitors, but at the same time, he imagined it had been some time since an earl had caled upon her in her own home, especialy if it had been only recently that her husband had become a baronet.
“I have come to call upon your husband,” Daniel told her.
“I am afraid he is not home just now,” she said. “Is there anything with which I may assist you? I am surprised that my husband did not mention your connection.”
“We have not been formaly introduced,” Daniel explained. There seemed no reason to pretend otherwise; Chervil would make as much clear when he returned home and his wife mentioned that the Earl of Winstead had paid a cal.
“Oh, I’m so sorry,” she said, not that there was anything for which to apologize. But she seemed like the sort of woman who said I’m sorry whenever she wasn’t sure what else to say. “Is there anything with which I might assist you? Oh, I’m so sorry, I asked that already, didn’t I?” She motioned to a seating area. “Would you care to sit? I can have tea brought out immediately.”
“No, thank you,” Daniel said. It was an effort to keep his manners polite, but he knew that this woman bore no blame for what had happened to Anne. She likely had never even heard of her.
He cleared his throat. “Do you know when your husband is expected back?”
“I shouldn’t think it would be too long,” she replied. “Would you like to wait?”