Gregory Bridgerton. Hmmm. She didn’t know why she hadn’t thought of him before.

Honoria Bridgerton.

Winifred Bridgerton. (She’d always wanted to name a child Winifred, so it seemed prudent to test this one out on the tongue as well.)

Mr. Gregory and Lady Honor –

“Honoria? Honoria!”

She blinked. Sarah was staring at her with visible irritation. “Gregory Bridgerton?” she said. “Your opinion?”

“Er, I think he would be a very nice choice,” Honoria answered, in the most unassuming manner possible.

“Who else?” Sarah said, rising to her feet. “Perhaps I should make a list.”

“For four names?” Honoria could not help but ask.

“You’re terribly determined,” Iris murmured.

“I have to be,” Sarah retorted, her dark eyes flashing.

“Do you really think you’re going to find a man and then marry him in the next two weeks?” Honoria asked.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Sarah replied in a clipped voice.

Honoria glanced toward the open door to make sure that no one was approaching. “It’s just the three of us right now, Sarah.”

“Does one have to play at the musicale if one is engaged?” Iris asked.

“Yes,” Honoria answered.

“No,” Sarah said firmly.

“Oh, yes, you do,” Honoria said.

Iris sighed.

“Don’t you complain,” Sarah said, turning on her with narrowed eyes. “You didn’t have to play last year.”

“For which I am eternally grateful,” Iris told her. She was due to join the quartet this year on cello.

“You want to find a husband just as badly as I do,” Sarah said to Honoria.

“Not in the next two weeks! And not,” she added, with a bit more decorum, “merely to get out of playing in the musicale.”

“I am not saying that I would marry someone awful,” Sarah said with a sniff. “But if Lord Chatteris just happened to fall desperately in love with me . . .”

“He’s not going to,” Honoria said baldly. Then, realizing how unkind that sounded, she added, “He’s not going to fall in love with anyone. Trust me.”

“Love works in mysterious ways,” Sarah said. But she sounded more hopeful than certain.

“Even if Marcus did fall in love with you, which isn’t going to happen, not that it has anything to do with you, he’s just not the sort to fall in love with someone quickly.” Honoria paused, trying to remember where she had started her sentence because she was fairly certain she had not completed it.

Sarah crossed her arms. “Was there a point in there, hidden amid the insults?”

Honoria rolled her eyes. “Just that even if Marcus did fall in love with someone, he would do it in the most ordinary, regular manner.”

“Is love ever ordinary?” Iris asked.

The statement was just philosophical enough to silence the room. But only for a moment.

“He would never rush a wedding,” Honoria continued, turning back to Sarah. “He hates drawing attention to himself. Hates it,” she repeated, because frankly, it bore repeating. “He’ll not get you out of the musicale, that is for certain.”

For a few seconds Sarah stood still and straight, and then she sighed, her shoulders falling into a slump. “Maybe Gregory Bridgerton,” she said dejectedly. “He seems like he might be a romantic.”

“Enough to elope?” Iris asked.

“No one is eloping!” Honoria exclaimed. “And you are all playing in the musicale next month.”

Sarah and Iris stared at her with identical expressions – two parts surprise and one part indignation. With a healthy dash of dread.

“Well, you are,” Honoria muttered. “We all are. It’s our duty.”

“Our duty,” Sarah repeated. “To play terrible music?”

Honoria stared at her. “Yes.”

Iris burst out laughing.

“It’s not funny,” Sarah said.

Iris wiped her eyes. “But it is.”

“It won’t be,” Sarah warned, “once you have to play.”

“Which is why I shall take my laughter now,” Iris replied.

“I still think we should have a house party,” Sarah said.

To which Honoria replied, “I agree.”

Sarah looked at her suspiciously.

“I just think that it would be ambitious to think of it as a means to getting out of playing at the musicale.” Foolish more than ambitious, but Honoria wasn’t about to say that.

Sarah sat at a nearby writing desk and picked up a pen. “We agree on Mr. Bridgerton, then?”

Honoria looked over at Iris. They both nodded.

“Who else?” Sarah asked.

“Don’t you think we should wait for Cecily?” Iris asked.

“Neville Berbrooke!” Sarah said firmly. “He and Mr. Bridgerton are related.”

“They are?” Honoria asked. She knew quite a lot about the Bridgerton family – everyone did – but she didn’t think they’d ever married any Berbrookes.

“Mr. Bridgerton’s brother’s wife’s sister is married to Mr. Berbrooke’s brother.”

It was just the sort of statement that begged for a sarcastic comment, but Honoria was too dumbfounded by the speed at which Sarah had rattled it off to do anything but blink.

Iris, however, was not as impressed. “And this makes them . . . casual acquaintances?”