“You’re back,” she said stupidly.

“Indeed,” he said sharply, “and what the devil is going on?”

“I – ”

Daniel put up a hand. “Stay out of it, Honoria.”

Hadn’t he just asked her a question?

“Dear God, Daniel,” Marcus said, coming to his feet. He was wobbling a bit, rubbing the back of his head where it had connected with the wall. “Next time, consider telling us – ”

“You bastard,” Daniel hissed, and he slammed his fist into Marcus’s cheek.

“Daniel!” Honoria shrieked. She jumped again onto his back, or rather she tried to; he shook her off like –

Well, like a bug, annoying as that was.

She tried to scramble back to her feet in time to stop him again, but Daniel had always been agile, and right now he was furious. Before she could even get herself upright, he’d punched Marcus again.

“I don’t want to fight you, Daniel,” Marcus said, wiping blood from his chin with his sleeve.

“What the hell were you doing with my sister?”

“You’re – ”


” – insane,” Marcus grunted, his voice seemingly swallowed up by the force of Daniel’s fist in his belly.

“I asked you to watch over her,” Daniel ground out, punctuating each word with a vicious blow to Marcus’s midsection. “To watch. Over. Her.”

“Daniel, stop!” Honoria pleaded.

“She’s my sister,” Daniel spat.

“I know,” Marcus growled back. He appeared to be regaining his equilibrium, and he drew back his arm and slammed his fist into Daniel’s jaw. “And you – ”

But Daniel wasn’t interested in talking, at least not unless Marcus was answering his very specific questions. Before Marcus could finish his sentence, Daniel got him by the neck and pinned him to the wall. “What,” he hissed again, “were you doing to my sister?”

“You’re going to kill him,” Honoria shrieked. She rushed forward again, trying to pull Daniel back, but Marcus must have been able to fend for himself, because his knee shot up, catching Daniel squarely in the groin. Daniel let out a sound that was positively inhuman, and he went down, taking Honoria with him.

“The two of you are mad,” she gasped, trying to untangle her legs from her brother’s. But they weren’t listening; she might as well have been speaking to the floorboards.

Marcus touched his hands to his throat, wincing as he rubbed where Daniel had choked him. “For the love of God, Daniel,” he said. “You nearly killed me.”

Daniel glared up at him from the floor even as he panted through his pain. “What were you doing to Honoria?”

“It doesn’t – ” She tried to intercede, tried to say it didn’t matter, but Marcus cut her off with “What did you see?”

“It doesn’t matter what I saw,” Daniel snapped. “I asked you to watch over her, not to take advan – ”

“You asked me,” Marcus cut in angrily. “Yes, let’s think about that. You asked me to watch over your young, unmarried sister. Me! What the hell do I know about bringing out a young lady?”

“Apparently more than you should,” Daniel spat. “You had your tongue down her – ”

Honoria’s mouth fell open, and she smacked her brother on the side of his head. She would have hit him again, if only because Daniel had given her a shove in return, but before she could make a move, Marcus came hurtling through the air.

“Hhhhhrrrrrrcccchhhh!” A sound emerged from his mouth that was completely unintelligible. It was the sound of rage, pure and simple, and Honoria just managed to scoot out of the way before Marcus threw himself on the man he’d always considered his one true friend.

“For God’s sake, Marcus,” Daniel gasped between blows. “What the hell is wrong with you?”

“Don’t you ever talk about her like that,” Marcus seethed.

Daniel slid out from under him and staggered to his feet. “Like what? I was insulting you.”

“Really?” Marcus drawled, also rising. “Well, then this” – his fist connected with the side of Daniel’s face – “is for the insult. And that” – other fist, other side of the face – “is for abandoning her.”

It was very sweet of him, but Honoria wasn’t sure that was quite accurate. “Well, he didn’t really – ”

Daniel clutched at his mouth, which was now dripping blood. “I was going to hang!”

Marcus shoved Daniel’s shoulder, then shoved him again. “You could have come back long ago.”

Honoria gasped. Was that true?

“No,” Daniel responded, shoving Marcus right back. “I couldn’t. Or did you not realize that Ramsgate is absolutely insane?”

Marcus crossed his arms. “You did not write to her for over a year.”

“That’s not true.”

“It’s true,” Honoria said, not that anyone was listening to her. And that was when she realized it. They weren’t going to listen to her. Not in this fight, at least.

“Your mother was wrecked,” Marcus said.

“There was nothing I could do about that,” Daniel returned.

“I’m leaving,” Honoria said.

“You could have written to her.”

“My mother? I did! She never wrote back.”

“I’m leaving,” Honoria repeated, but they were now almost nose to nose, hissing epithets and heaven knew what else. She shrugged. At least they weren’t trying to kill each other any longer. All would be well. They had brawled before and likely would again, and she had to admit that a little piece – oh, very well, a bigger than little piece – of her had been thrilled that they had come to blows over her. Not so much her brother, but Marcus . . .