He thought about Honoria’s eyes again. They really were a bit more blue than lavender. Although they did have that purplish touch to them that made them so uncommon. It was true – no one had eyes quite like hers. Even Daniel’s weren’t precisely the same. His were darker. Not by much, but Marcus could tell the difference.

Honoria wouldn’t agree, though. When she was a child she had frequently gone on about how she and Daniel had the same eyes. Marcus had always thought she was looking for a bond between them, something that connected them in a special way.

She’d just wanted to be a part of things. That was all she’d ever wanted. No wonder she was so eager to be married and out of her silent, empty home. She needed noise. Laughter.

She needed not to be lonely. She needed never to be lonely.

Was she even in the room? It was rather quiet. He tried again to open his eyes. No luck.

He rolled onto his side, happy to be free of those damned bindings. He’d always been a side-sleeper.

Someone touched his shoulder, then pulled up his blankets to cover him. He tried to make a little murmuring sound to show his appreciation, and he guessed he must have been successful because he heard Honoria say, “Are you awake?”

He made the same sound again. It seemed to be the only one he could make work.

“Well, maybe a little bit awake,” she said. “That’s better than nothing, I suppose.”

He yawned.

“We’re still waiting for the doctor,” she said. “I’d hoped he would be here by now.” She was quiet for a few moments, then added in a bright voice, “Your leg looks quite improved. Or at least that’s what my mother says. I’ll be honest – it still looks dreadful to me. But definitely not as dreadful as it did this morning.”

This morning? Did that mean it was afternoon? He wished he could get his eyes to open.

“She went to her room. My mother, I mean. She said she needed respite from the heat.” Another pause, and then: “It is quite hot in here. We opened the window, but only a very little bit. Mrs. Wetherby was afraid you would catch a chill. I know, it’s hard to imagine you could get a chill when it’s this hot, but she assures me that it’s possible.

“I like to sleep in a cold room with a heavy blanket,” she added. “Not that I imagine you care.”

He did care. Well, not so much what she said. He just liked listening to her voice.

“And Mama is always hot lately. It drives me batty. She’s hot, then she’s cold, then she’s hot again, and I swear there is no rhyme or reason to it. But she does seem to be hot more often than cold. Should you ever wish to buy her a gift, I recommend a fan. She is always in need of one.”

She touched his shoulder again, then his brow, lightly brushing his hair from his forehead. It felt nice. Soft, and gentle, and caring in a way that was utterly unfamiliar to him. It was a bit like when she’d come over and forced him to drink tea.

He liked being fussed over. Imagine that.

He let out a little sigh. It sounded like a happy one to his ears. He hoped she thought so, too.

“You’ve been sleeping for quite some time,” Honoria said. “But I think your fever is down. Not all the way, but you seem peaceful. Although did you know you talk in your sleep?”


“Really,” she said. “Earlier today I could have sworn you said something about a monkfish. And then just a little while ago I think you said something about onions.”

Onions? Not carrots?

“What are you thinking about, I wonder? Food? Monkfish with onions? It wouldn’t be what I would want while sick, but to each his own.” She stroked his hair again, and then, to his complete surprise and delight, she lightly kissed his cheek. “You’re not so terrible, you know,” she said with a smile.

He couldn’t see the smile, but he knew it was there.

“You like to pretend that you are terribly standoffish and brooding, but you’re not. Although you do scowl quite a bit.”

Did he? He didn’t mean to. Not at her.

“You almost had me fooled, you know. I was really starting to not like you in London. But it was just that I’d forgotten you. Who you used to be, I mean. Who you probably still are.”

He had no idea what she was talking about.

“You don’t like to let people see who you really are.”

She was quiet again, and he thought he heard her moving, maybe adjusting her position in her chair. And when she spoke, he heard her smiling again. “I think you’re shy.”

Well, for God’s sake, he could have told her that. He hated making conversation with people he did not know. He always had.

“It’s strange to think that of you,” she continued. “One never thinks of a man as being shy.”

He couldn’t imagine why not.

“You’re tall,” she said in a thoughtful voice, “and athletic, and intelligent, and all those things men are supposed to be.”

He did notice she didn’t call him handsome.

“Not to mention ridiculously wealthy, oh, and of course, there’s that title, too. If you were of a mind to get married, I’m quite certain you could choose anyone you wish.”

Did she think he was ugly?

She poked his shoulder with her finger. “You can’t imagine how many people would love to be in your shoes.”

Not right now, they wouldn’t.

“But you’re shy,” she said, almost wonderingly. He could feel that she’d moved closer; her breath was landing lightly on his cheek. “I think I like that you’re shy.”