Olivia plopped down in a nearby chair, crossing her arms. "It's not enough."
"You've gone mad," Miranda said. She gave her head a little shake and turned back to her book.
"I know that you will love him. You need only to spend enough time in his company."
Miranda pressed her lips together and kept her eyes firmly on her book. This was not a conversation that could go anywhere sensible.
"He will be here for only two days," Olivia mused. "We're going to need to work quickly."
Miranda flipped a page and said, "You do what you wish, Olivia, but I will not be party to your schemes." Then she looked up in alarm. "No, I've changed my mind. Don't do what you wish. If I leave matters up to you, I'll find myself drugged and on my way to Gretna Green before I know it."
"An intriguing thought."
"Livvy, no matchmaking. I want you to promise me."
Olivia's expression turned arch. "I won't make a promise I might not keep."
"Oh, very well. But you cannot stop Winston if he has matchmaking in mind. And judging from his recent behavior, he very well might."
"Just so long as you don't interfere."
Olivia sniffed and tried to look affronted. "I am hurt that you would even think I would do such a thing."
"Oh, please ." Miranda turned back to her book, but it was nearly impossible to focus on the plot when in her mind she was counting down… twenty , nineteen , eighteen…
Surely Olivia would not be able to remain silent for more than twenty seconds.
"Winston will make a lovely husband, don't you think?"
Four seconds. That was remarkable, even for Olivia.
"He's young, of course, but so are we."
Miranda studiously ignored her.
"Turner probably would have made a fine husband, as well, if Leticia hadn't gone and ruined him."
Miranda's head snapped up. "Don't you think that's an unkind remark?"
Olivia gave a little smile. "I knew you were listening to me."
"It's nearly impossible not to," Miranda muttered.
"I was merely saying that- " Olivia's chin rose, and her gaze moved to the doorway behind Miranda. "And here he is now. What a coincidence."
"Winston," Miranda said cheerfully, twisting in her seat so that she could peer over the edge of the sofa. Except it wasn't Winston.
"Sorry to disappoint," Turner said, one corner of his mouth twisting into a lazy and extremely slight smile.
"Sorry," Miranda mumbled, feeling rather unexpectedly foolish. "We were speaking of him."
"We were speaking of you, too," Olivia said. "More recently, in fact, which is why I remarked upon your entrance."
"Diabolical things, I hope."
"Oh, indeed," Olivia said.
Miranda managed a close-lipped smile as he took a seat across from her.
Olivia leaned forward and rested her chin coquettishly in her hand. "I was just telling Miranda that I thought you would make someone a terrible husband."
He looked amused as he sat back. "True enough."
"But I was about to say that with the proper training," Olivia continued, "you could be rehabilitated."
Turner stood. "I'm leaving."
"No, don't go!" Olivia called out with a laugh. "I am teasing, of course. You're quite beyond redemption. But Winston…Now, Winston is like a lump of clay."
"I shan't tell him you said that," Miranda murmured.
"Don't say you don't agree," Olivia said provocatively. "He hasn't had time to turn dreadful, the way most men do."
Turner watched his sister with undisguised amazement. "How is it possible that I am sitting here listening to you lecture on the management of men?"
Olivia opened her mouth to reply- something clever and cunning, to be sure- but just then the butler appeared in the doorway and saved them all. "Your mother requires your company, Lady Olivia."
"I shall be back," Olivia warned as she exited the room. "I am most eager to complete this conversation." And then, with a devilish smile and a wag of her fingers, she departed.
Turner stifled a groan- his sister was going to be the death of someone, just hopefully not him- and looked to Miranda. She was curled up on the sofa, her feet tucked under her, a large, dusty tome in her lap.
"Heavy reading?" he murmured.
She held up the book.
"Oh," he said, his lips twitching.
"Don't laugh," she warned.
"I wouldn't dream of it."
"Don't lie, either," she said, her mouth assuming that governess expression she seemed to do so well.
He leaned back with a chuckle. "Now that I cannot promise."
For a moment she just sat there, looking equal parts stern and serious, and then her face changed. Nothing dramatic, nothing to raise alarm, but enough so that it was clear that she'd been debating something in her mind. And that she'd reached a decision.
"What do you think of Winston?" she asked.
"My brother," he stated.
She held out her hand and flicked her wrist, as if to say- Who else?
"Well," he said, stalling because, really, what did she expect him to say? "He's my brother."
Her eyes glanced upward sarcastically. "Positively revelatory of you."
"What exactly is it you are asking me?"
"I want to know what you think of him," she insisted.
His heart slammed in his chest for no reason he could identify. "Are you asking me," he inquired carefully, "if I believe that Winston would make a good husband?"
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