"We're not in London."
"What has that to do with anything?"
Nothing. Miranda clenched her teeth.
"Did you have a row with Winston?"
"Of course not." Because, really, who could have a row with Winston? Aside from Olivia.
"Then what is the matter?"
"It is nothing." Miranda forced herself into a calmer disposition and reached for her gloves. "Your brother wishes to ask my father about an illuminated manuscript."
"Winston?" Olivia asked doubtfully.
Good heavens, was she ever without questions?
"Yes," Miranda answered, "and he plans to leave soon, so he needs to escort me now."
The last bit was entirely fabricated, but Miranda thought it rather inspired, under the circumstances. Besides, maybe now he'd have to go back to his home in Northumberland, and the world could go back to its usual position, tilting contentedly on its axis, spinning 'round the sun.
Olivia leaned against the doorframe, situating herself in such a way that Miranda could not ignore her. "Then why are you in such a beastly mood? You've always liked Turner, haven't you?"
Miranda almost laughed.
And then she almost cried.
How dare he order her about like some recalcitrant trollop.
How dare he make her so miserable here, at Haverbreaks, which had been more of a home to her these past few years than it had to him.
She turned away. She couldn't let Olivia see her face.
How dare he kiss her and not mean it.
"Miranda?" Olivia said softly. "Are you all right?"
"I'm perfectly well," Miranda choked out, brushing quickly by her as she flew toward the door.
"You don't sound- "
"I'm sad about Leticia," Miranda snapped. And she was. Anyone who had made Turner that miserable surely deserved to be mourned.
But Olivia, being Olivia, would not be swayed, and as Miranda hurried down the stairs to the front hall, she was right at her heels.
"Leticia!" she exclaimed. "You must be joking."
Miranda skidded 'round the landing, holding tight to the banister to keep herself from flying.
"Leticia was a nasty old witch," Olivia continued. "She made Turner dreadfully unhappy."
"Miranda! Miranda! Oh, Turner. Good day."
"Olivia," he said politely, giving her a tiny nod.
"Miranda says she is mourning Leticia. Is that not insupportable?"
"Olivia!" Miranda gasped. Turner might have detested his dead wife- enough to say so at her funeral, even- but there were certain things that were quite beyond the bounds of decency.
Turner just looked at Miranda, one of his brows rising into a mockingly quizzical expression.
"Oh, stuff. He hated her, and we all knew it."
"Candid as always, dear sister," Turner murmured.
"You've always said you don't enjoy hypocrisy," she returned.
"True enough." He looked to Miranda. "Shall we?"
"You're taking her home?" Olivia asked, even though Miranda had just told her that he was.
"I need to speak with her father."
"Can't Winston take her?"
"Olivia!" Miranda wasn't sure what embarrassed her more- that Olivia was matchmaking or that she was doing it in front of Turner.
"Winston doesn't need to speak with her father," Turner said smoothly.
"Well, can't he come along?"
"Not in my curricle."
Olivia's eyes grew round with longing. "You're taking your curricle?" It was newly built, high, fast, and sleek, and Olivia had been dying to take the reins.
Turner grinned, and for a moment he almost looked like himself again- the man Miranda had known and loved, all those years ago. "Maybe I'll even let her drive," he said, clearly for no other reason than to torture his sister.
It worked, too. Olivia made a strange, gurgling sound, as if she were choking on her own envy.
"Ta, dear sis!" Turner said with a smirk. He slipped his arm through Miranda's and drew her toward the door. "I shall see you later…or perhaps you'll see me. As I drive by."
Miranda bit back a laugh as they headed down the steps to the drive. "You're terrible," she said.
He shrugged. "She deserves it."
"No," Miranda said, feeling that she ought to stand up for her dearest friend, even if she had enjoyed the scene to an unseemly degree.
"Very well, yes, but you're still terrible."
"Oh, absolutely," he agreed, and as Miranda let him help her up into the curricle, she wondered how this had all come about, that she was sitting beside him and she was actually smiling and thinking that maybe she didn't hate him, and maybe he could be redeemed.
They drove in silence for the first few minutes. The curricle was very smart, and Miranda could not help but feel terribly stylish as they sped along, high above the road.
"You made quite a conquest this afternoon," Turner finally said.
"Winston seems quite taken with you."
Still, she said nothing. There was nothing she could say, nothing that would leave her with dignity intact. She could deny it, and sound like a coquette, or she could agree and sound boastful. Or taunting. Or, God forbid, as if she wished to make him jealous.
"I suppose I ought to give you my blessing."
Miranda turned to face him in shock, but Turner kept his eyes on the road as he added, "It would certainly be an advantageous match for you, and he could undoubtedly do no better. You may be lacking in the funds a younger son so earnestly needs, but you make up for it in sense. And sensibility, for that matter."
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