Excellent sausage this morning. And the toast was exceptional as well. Just the right amount of butter. A bit of salt needed for the eggs, but other than that they were rather tasty.
He tried the salted cod. Not bad. Not bad at all.
He took another bite. Chewed. Enjoyed himself. Thought very deep thoughts about politics and agriculture.
Moved on determinedly to Newtonian physics. He really should have paid more attention at Eton, because he couldn’t quite recall the difference between force and work.
Let’s see, work was that bit with the foot-pounds, and force was…
It wasn’t even really wondering. Honestly, it could all be blamed on a trick of the light. And his mood. He’d been feeling a bit off. He’d been looking at her mouth because she’d been talking, for heaven’s sake. Where else was he meant to look?
He picked up his fork with renewed vigor. Back to the cod. And his tea. Nothing washed everything away like tea.
He took a long sip, peering over the edge of his cup as he heard someone coming down the hall.
And then she filled the doorway.
He blinked with surprise, then glanced over her shoulder. She’d come without her extra appendage.
Now that he thought about it, he didn’t think he’d ever seen Miss Watson without Lady Lucinda.
“Good morning,” he called out, in precisely the right tone. Friendly enough so as not to sound bored, but not too friendly. A man never wanted to sound desperate.
Miss Watson looked over at him as he stood, and her face registered absolutely no emotion whatsoever. Not happiness, not ire, nothing but the barest flicker of acknowledgment. It was quite remarkable, really.
“Good morning,” she murmured.
Then, hell, why not. “Will you join me?” he asked.
Her lips parted and she paused, as if not quite sure what she wished to do. And then, as if to offer perverse proof that they did in fact share some sort of higher connection, he read her mind.
Truly. He knew exactly what she was thinking.
Oh, very well, I suppose I have to eat breakfast, anyway.
It positively warmed the soul.
“I cannot stay very long,” Miss Watson said. “Lucy is unwell, and I promised to bring her a tray.”
It was difficult to imagine the indomitable Lady Lucinda taking ill, although Gregory didn’t know why. It wasn’t as if he knew her. Really, it had been nothing but a few conversations. If that. “I trust it is nothing serious,” he murmured.
“I don’t think so,” she replied, taking a plate. She looked up at him, blinking those astounding green eyes. “Did you eat the fish?”
He looked down at his cod. “Now?”
“No, last night.”
“I imagine so. I usually eat everything.”
Her lips pursed for a moment, then she murmured, “I ate it as well.”
Gregory waited for further explanation, but she didn’t seem inclined to offer any. So instead he remained on his feet as she placed delicate portions of eggs and ham on her plate. Then, after a moment’s deliberation-
Am I really hungry? Because the more food I put on my plate, the longer it will take to consume it. Here. In the breakfast room. With him.
– she took a piece of toast.
Hmmm. Yes, I’m hungry.
Gregory waited until she took a seat across from him, and he sat down. Miss Watson offered him a small smile-the sort that was really nothing more than a shrug of the lips-and proceeded to eat her eggs.
“Did you sleep well?” Gregory asked.
She dabbed at her mouth with her serviette. “Very well, thank you.”
“I did not,” he announced. Hell, if polite conversation failed to draw her out, perhaps he ought to opt for surprise.
She looked up. “I’m so sorry.” And then she looked back down. And ate.
“Terrible dream,” he said. “Nightmare, really. Ghastly.”
She picked up her knife and cut her bacon. “I’m so sorry,” she said, seemingly unaware that she’d uttered those very same words mere moments earlier.
“I can’t quite recall what it was,” Gregory mused. He was making it all up, of course. He hadn’t slept well, but not because of a nightmare. But he was going to get her to talk to him or die trying. “Do you remember your dreams?” he asked.
Her fork stopped midway to her mouth-and there was that delightful connection of the minds again.
In God’s name, why is he asking me this?
Well, maybe not in God’s name. That would require a bit more emotion than she seemed to possess. At least with him.
“Er, no,” she said. “Not usually.”
“Really? How intriguing. I recall mine about half of the time, I would estimate.”
If I nod, I won’t have to come up with something to say.
He plowed on. “My dream from last night was quite vivid. There was a rainstorm. Thunder and lightning. Very dramatic.”
She turned her neck, ever so slowly, and looked over her shoulder.
She turned back. “I thought I heard someone.”
I hoped I heard someone.
Really, this mind-reading talent was beginning to grow tedious.
“Right,” he said. Well, where was I?”
Miss Watson began to eat very quickly.
Gregory leaned forward. She wasn’t going to escape so easily. “Oh, yes, the rain,” he said. “It was pouring. Absolute deluge. And the ground began to melt beneath my feet. Dragged me down.”
He paused, purposefully, and then kept his eyes on her face until she was forced to say something.
After a few moments of exceedingly awkward silence, she finally moved her gaze from her food to his face. A small piece of egg trembled on the edge of her fork.
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