"To eat?"

Her eyes actually rolled up. "To fall in love."

There was something rather galling about receiving such a disdainful look from one's younger sister, but Turner decided that he would take, if not the high road, then at least something middle-ish, and so he gave her a somewhat arch look and returned with a pithy "And they intend to do this over biscuits and tea in a single afternoon?"

"It's a start," Olivia retorted. "I don't see you doing anything to further the match."

That, Turner thought with unexpected forcefulness, was because any fool could see that it would be a dreadful misalliance. He loved Winston dearly, and held him in as high an esteem as anyone could hold a twenty-year-old boy, but he was clearly the wrong man for Miranda. It was true that he had only come to know her well these past few weeks, but even he could see that she was wise beyond her years. She needed someone who was more mature, older, better able to appreciate her finer points. Someone who could keep a firm hand on her when her temper made one of its rare appearances.

Winston, he supposed, could be that man…in ten years.

Turner looked to his sister and said, rather firmly, "I need food."

"Turner, don't!" But Olivia couldn't stop him. By the time she even tried he was halfway down the hall.

* * *
The Bevelstokes had always run a relatively informal house, at least when they were not entertaining guests, and so none of the servants had been particularly surprised when Winston had poked his head into the kitchen, melted Mrs. Cook with his sweetest, most puppy-dog expression, and then plopped down at a table with Miranda to wait while she whipped up some of her famous butter biscuits. They had just been laid on the table, still steaming and smelling like heaven, when Miranda heard a loud thump behind her.

She turned, blinking, to see Turner standing at the base of the stairs, looking rakish, sheepish, and utterly adorable, all at once. She sighed. She couldn't help it.

"Took the stairs two at a time," he explained, although she wasn't quite certain of the significance of it.

"Turner," Winston grunted, too busy eating his third biscuit to greet him more eloquently.

"Olivia said you two were down here," Turner said. "Good timing on my part. I'm famished."

"We've a plate of biscuits if you want some," Miranda said, motioning to a dish on the table.

Turner shrugged his shoulders and sat down next to her. "Mrs. Cook's?"

Winston nodded.

Turner took three, then turned to Mrs. Cook with the same puppyish expression Winston had adopted earlier. "Oh, very well," she huffed, clearly adoring the attention, "I'll make more."

Just then Olivia appeared in the doorway, her lips pursed as she glared at her elder brother. "Turner," she said in an irritated voice. "I told you I wanted to show you the new, er, book I got."

Miranda stifled a groan. She'd told Olivia to stop trying to force a match.

"Turner ," Olivia ground out.

Miranda decided that if Olivia ever asked her about it, she'd say that she just could not help herself when she looked up, smiled sweetly, and asked, "And what book would that be?"

Olivia glared long pointy swords at her. "You know the one."

"Would it be the one about the Ottoman Empire, the one about fur trappers in Canada, or the one about the philosophy of Adam Smith?"

"The Smith fellow," Olivia bit out.

"Really?" Winston asked, turning to his twin with renewed interest. "I had no idea you enjoyed that sort of thing. We've been reading Wealth of Nations this year. It's quite an interesting mixture of philosophy and economics."

Olivia smiled tightly. "I'm certain it is. I'll be sure to give you my opinion once I finish reading it."

"How far along are you?" Turner asked.

"Just a few pages."

Or at least that was what Miranda thought she heard. It was difficult to tell over the grinding of Olivia's teeth.

"D'you want a biscuit, Olivia?" Turner asked, and then he flashed Miranda a grin, as if to say, We're in this together .

He looked boyish. He looked young. He looked…happy.

And Miranda melted.

Olivia crossed the room to sit next to Winston, but on the way she leaned down and hissed in Miranda's ear, "I was trying to help you."

Miranda, however, was still recovering from Turner's smile. Her stomach felt as if it had just dropped to her feet, her head was dizzy, and her heart felt like it was thumping out an entire symphony. Either she was in love or she had contracted influenza. She stole a peek at Turner's chiseled profile and sighed.

All signs pointed to love.

"Miranda. Miranda!"

She looked up at Olivia, who was impatiently calling her name.

"Winston wants to know my opinion on Wealth of Nations when I finish reading it. I told him you would be reading it along with me. I'm sure we can purchase another copy."

"What? Oh, yes, of course, I love to read." It was only when she saw Olivia's smirk that Miranda realized just what she'd agreed to.

"Now, Miranda," Winston said, leaning across the table and patting her hand with his. "You must tell me how you have been enjoying the season."

"Those biscuits are delicious," Turner declared loudly, reaching for one. "Excuse me, Winston, could you move your arm?"

Winston retrieved his hand, and Turner took a biscuit and popped it into his mouth. He smiled broadly. "Wonderful as always, Mrs. Cook!"

"I'll have another plate for you in just a few minutes," she assured him, beaming at the praise.


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