“He asked me to marry him,” she said, eyes narrowing.
George burst into raucous laughter. “And you believed him?”
“I said yes.”
“I’m sure you thought you did.”
Anne tried to take a deep breath, but her teeth were clenched so hard together that she shook when she tried to draw air. She was so . . . bloody . . . angry.
Gone was the fear, the apprehension, the shame. Instead all she felt was blood-boiling fury. This man had stolen eight years of her life. He had made her scared, and he had made her lonely. He had taken the innocence of her body, and he had smashed the innocence of her spirit. But this time, he was not going to win.
She was finaly happy. Not just secure, not even just content, but happy. She loved Daniel, and by some miracle he loved her in return. Her future spread before her in lovely sunrise shades of pink and orange, and she could actualy see herself—with Daniel, with laughter, with children. She was not giving that up. Whatever her sins, she had long since paid for them.
“George Chervil,” she said, her voice strangely calm, “you are a blight on humanity.”
He looked at her with mild curiosity, then shrugged, turning back to the window.
“Where are we going?” she asked again.
“It’s not far.”
Anne looked out her own window. They were moving much faster now than when she’d pushed Frances from the carriage. She did not recognize the area, but she thought they were heading north. Or at least mostly north. They’d long since left behind Regent’s Park, and although she’d never taken the girls there, she knew that it was located north of Marylebone.
The carriage kept up its brisk pace, slowing just enough at intersections for Anne to read some of the signs on the shops. Kentish Town, one of them said. She’d heard of that. It was a vilage on the outskirts of London. George had said they weren’t going far, and maybe that was true. But still, Anne did not think there was any way that anyone would find her before George tried to carry out his plan. She did not think he had said anything in front of Frances that might indicate where they were going, and in any case, the poor girl would surely be a wreck by the time she reached home.
If Anne was going to be saved, she would have to do it herself.
“It is time to be your own heroine,” she whispered.
“What was that?” George said in a bored voice.
“Nothing.” But inside, her brain was spinning. How would she do this? Was there any sense in planning, or would she need to wait and see how events unfolded?
It was hard to know just how she might escape without first seeing the lay of the land.
George turned toward her with growing suspicion. “You look rather intent,” he said.
She ignored him. What were his weaknesses? He was vain—how might she use that to her advantage?
“What are you thinking about?” he demanded.
She smiled secretly. He did not like to be ignored—that, too, might be useful.
“Why are you smiling?” he screamed.
She turned, her expression carefuly constructed to appear as if she’d only just heard him. “I’m sorry, did you say something?” His eyes narrowed. “What are you up to?”
“What am I up to? I’m sitting in a carriage being kidnapped. What are you up to?” A muscle in his good cheek began to twitch. “Don’t talk to me in that tone of voice.”
She shrugged, accompanying the motion with a dismissive roll of her eyes. He would hate that.
“You’re planning something,” he accused.
She shrugged again, deciding that with George, most anything that worked once would work even better the second time.
She was right. His face grew mottled with rage, sending his scar into sharp white contrast with his skin. It was gruesome to watch, and yet she could not tear her eyes away.
George caught her staring and grew even more agitated. “What are you planning?” he demanded, his hand shaking with fury as he jabbed her with his forefinger.
“Nothing,” she said quite honestly. Nothing specific at least. Right now all she was doing was setting him on edge. And it was working beautifuly.
He was not used to women treating him with disdain, she realized. When she had known him, the girls had fawned and hung on his every word. She did not know what sort of attention he drew now, but the truth was, when he was not red-faced with fury he was not unhandsome, even with his scar. Some women would pity him, but others would probably find him dashing, mysterious even, with what looked like a valiant war wound.
But disdain? He would not like that, especialy from her.
“You’re smiling again,” he accused.
“I’m not,” she lied, her voice but a quip.
“Don’t try to cross me,” he raged, poking her shoulder again with his finger. “You cannot win.” She shrugged.
“What is wrong with you?” he roared.
“Nothing,” she said, because by now she had realized that nothing would infuriate him more than her calm demeanor. He wanted her to cower with terror. He wanted to see her shake, and he wanted to hear her beg.
So instead she turned away from him, keeping her eyes firmly on the window.
“Look at me,” George ordered.
She waited for a moment, then said, “No.”
His voice dropped to a growl. “Look at me.”
His voice dropped to a growl. “Look at me.”
“Look at me,” he screamed.
This time she did. His voice had reached a pitch of instability, and she realized that she was already tensing her shoulders, waiting for a blow. She stared at him without speaking.