"A gentlemen's bookshop," Olivia cut in, looking at her as if she'd suddenly sprouted a spare head.

"And?"

Olivia stiffened at her nearly belligerent tone. "There are gentlemen's bookshops, and there are ladies' bookshops. It's the way of things."

Miranda's fists curled into tight little balls. "It's a bloody stupid way, if you ask me."

"Miranda!" Olivia audibly gasped. "What did you just say?"

Miranda had the grace to blush at her foul language. "Do you see how upset he made me? Have you ever known me to curse aloud before?"

"No, and I'm not sure I want to know how much cursing you're doing in your mind."

"It's asinine," Miranda fumed. "Absolutely asinine. He had something I wanted to buy, and I had the money to pay for it. It should have been a simple matter."

Olivia glanced down the road. "Why don't we just go to the ladies' bookshop?"

"There is nothing I would rather do under normal circumstances. I certainly would prefer not to patronize that dreadful man's store. But I doubt they will have the same copy of Le Morte d'Arthur , Livvy. I'm certain it's a singular item. And worse - " Miranda's voice rose as the injustice of it all sank in more firmly. "And worse- "

"It gets worse?"

Miranda shot her an irritated look but nonetheless replied, "Yes. It does. The worst of it is, even if there were two copies, which I'm quite certain there are not, the ladies' bookshop probably would not carry one, anyway, because no one would think that a lady would wish for such a book!"

"They wouldn't?"

"No. It's probably full of Byron and Mrs. Radcliffe novels."

"I like Byron and Mrs. Radcliffe novels," Olivia said, sounding vaguely affronted.

"So do I," Miranda assured her, "but I enjoy other literature as well. And I certainly do not think it is the place of that man"- she jabbed an angry finger toward the bookshop window- "to decide what I may or may not read."

Olivia stared at her for a moment, then politely asked, "Are you quite done?"

Miranda smoothed her skirts and sniffed. "Quite."

Olivia's back was to the bookshop, and she sent a rueful glance over her shoulder before placing a comforting hand on Miranda's arm. "We'll get Father to buy it for you. Or Turner."

"That's not the point. I cannot believe you're not as upset about this as I am."

Olivia sighed. "When did you become such a crusader, Miranda? I thought I was meant to be the unrestrained one of the duo."

Miranda's jaw began to ache from clenching. "I suppose," she nearly growled, "that I have never had anything to get this upset about before."

Olivia's head drew back, just a touch. "Remind me to take pains not to upset you in the future."

"I'm going to get that book."

"Fine, we'll just- "

"And he is going to know that I've got it." Miranda gave the bookshop one last belligerent stare and then strode off in the direction of home.

* * *
"Of course I'll buy the book for you, Miranda," Turner said congenially. He'd been enjoying a rather leisurely afternoon, reading the newspaper and pondering life as an unattached gentleman, when his sister had burst into the room, announcing that Miranda desperately needed a favor.

It all been rather entertaining, actually, especially the death stare Miranda had bestowed upon Olivia at her use of the word desperate .

"I don't want you to buy it for me," Miranda ground out. "I want you to buy it with me."

Turner sat back in his comfortable chair. "Is there a difference?"

"A world of difference."

"A world," Olivia confirmed, but she was grinning, and he rather suspected she didn't see the distinction, either.

Miranda threw her another glare, and Olivia actually backed up and exclaimed. "What? I'm supporting you!"

"Don't you think it's wrong ," Miranda continued ferociously, returning to both her diatribe and his face, "that I cannot shop in a certain store simply because I am a woman?"

He smiled lazily at her. "Miranda, there are certain places where women cannot go."

"I am not asking to enter one of your precious clubs. I merely wish to purchase a book. There isn't anything remotely unsuitable about it. It is an antique, for heaven's sake."

"Miranda, if that gentleman owns that shop, he can decide who he does and doesn't want sell to."

She crossed her arms. "Well, perhaps he shouldn't be allowed to. Perhaps there ought to be a law that says that booksellers cannot bar women from their stores."

He raised an ironic brow at her. "You haven't been reading that tract by Mary Wollstonecraft, have you?"

"Mary who?" Miranda asked in a distracted voice.

"Good."

"Don't change the subject, please, Turner. Do you or do you not agree that I should be allowed to buy that book?"

He sighed, quite exhausted by her unexpected stubbornness. And over a book . "Miranda, why should you be allowed in a gentlemen's bookshop? You can't even vote."

Her sputter of outrage was colossal. "And that's another thing- "

Turner quickly realized that he had made a tactical error. "Forget I mentioned suffrage. Please. I'll go with you to buy the book."

"You will?" Her eyes lit up and glowed soft and brown. "Thank you."

"Shall we go on Friday? I don't believe I'm engaged for the afternoon."

"Oh, I want to go, too," Olivia piped in.

"Absolutely not," Turner said firmly. "One of you is all I can manage. My nerves, you know."

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