Not realy, but Daniel didn’t see any other alternative, so he thanked her and took a seat. Tea was brought out, and much small conversation was made, interspersed with long pauses and unconcealed glances at the mantel clock. He tried to distract himself with thoughts of Anne, and what she must be doing at that precise moment.

While he was sipping tea, she was trying on clothing lent to her by Honoria.

While he was tapping his fingers impatiently against his knee, she was sitting down to dinner with his mother, who had, much to Daniel’s pride and relief, not batted so much as an eyelash when he announced that he planned to marry Miss Wynter, and oh, by the way, she would be staying at Winstead House as their guest, since she couldn’t very well continue on as a governess to the Pleinsworths.

“Lord Winstead?”

He looked up. Lady Chervil had her head tilted to the side and was blinking expectantly. She had clearly asked him a question—one he had not heard.

Fortunately, she was the sort of woman in whom good manners had been ingrained since birth, and so she drew no attention to his lapse, instead saying (and presumably repeating), “You must be terribly excited about your sister’s upcoming nuptials.” At his blank look, she added, “I read about it in the newspaper, and of course I attended your family’s lovely musicales when I was having my season.”

Daniel wondered if that meant that she was no longer receiving invitations. He hoped so. The thought of George Chervil sitting in his home made his skin crawl.

He cleared his throat, trying to keep his expression pleasant. “Yes, very much so. Lord Chatteris has been a close friend since childhood.”

“How lovely for you, then, that he will now be your brother.”

She smiled, and Daniel was struck by a tiny arrow of unease. Lady Chervil seemed to be a most pleasant woman, someone with whom his sister—or Anne—

would be friendly were she not married to Sir George. She was innocent of everything, save for marrying a scoundrel, and he was going to upend her life completely.

“He is at my house right now,” Daniel said, trying to assuage his disquietude by offering her slightly more charming conversation. “I believe he has been dragged over to help plan the wedding.”

“Oh, how lovely.”

He gave her a nod, using the opportunity to play the game of What-Must-Anne-Be-Doing-Now? He hoped she was with the rest of his family, offering her opinion on lavender-blue and blue-lavender and flowers and lace and everything else that went into a family celebration.

She deserved a family. After eight years, she deserved to feel as if she belonged.

Daniel glanced at the mantel clock again, trying to be a bit more discreet about it. He had been here an hour and a half. Surely Lady Chervil was growing restless.

Daniel glanced at the mantel clock again, trying to be a bit more discreet about it. He had been here an hour and a half. Surely Lady Chervil was growing restless.

No one remained in a sitting room for an hour and a half, waiting for someone to come home. They both knew that propriety dictated that he offer his card and depart.

But Daniel wasn’t budging.

Lady Chervil smiled awkwardly. “Truly, I did not think Sir George would be gone so long. I can’t imagine what is keeping him.”

“Where did he go?” Daniel asked. It was an intrusive question, but after ninety minutes of chitchat, it no longer seemed importune.

“I believe he visited a doctor,” Lady Chervil said. “For his scar, you know.” She looked up. “Oh, you said you had not been introduced. He has . . .” She motioned to her face with a sad expression. “He has a scar. It was a riding accident, just before we were married. I think it makes him look dashing, but he is forever trying to minimize it.”

Something unsettling began to roil in the pit of Daniel’s bely. “He went to see a doctor?” he asked.

“Wel, I think so,” Lady Chervil replied. “When he left this morning, he said that he was going to see someone about his scar. I just assumed it was a doctor. Who else would he see?”

Anne.

Daniel stood so quickly he upset the teapot, sending lukewarm dregs running across the table.

“Lord Winstead?” Lady Chervil asked, her voice laced with alarm. She came to her feet, too, hurrying after him as he strode for the door. “Is something wrong?”

“I beg your pardon,” he said. He did not have time for niceties. He’d already sat here for ninety bloody minutes, and God only knew what Chervil was planning.

Or had already done.

“May I help you in some way?” she asked, hurrying after him as he made his way to the front door. “Perhaps I can convey a message to my husband?” Daniel turned around. “Yes,” he said, and he did not recognize his own voice. Terror had made him unsteady; rage was making him bold. “You may tell him that if he touches so much as a hair on my fiancée’s head, I shal personaly see to it that his liver is extracted through his mouth.” Lady Chervil went very pale.

“Do you understand?”

She nodded unsteadily.

Daniel stared at her. Hard. She was terrified, but that was nothing compared to what Anne would be feeling if she was now in the clutches of George Chervil. He took another step toward the door, then paused. “One more thing,” he said. “If he comes home tonight alive, I suggest you have a talk with him about your future here in England. You might find life more comfortable on another continent. Good day, Lady Chervil.”

“Good day,” she said. Then she fainted dead away.

“Anne!” Daniel belowed as he ran into the front hall of Winstead House. “Anne!”

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