She shook her head. "I don't understand you."

He didn't respond, not wishing to let the conversation slip back into serious waters. She picked up her book again, and this time he busied himself by timing how many minutes passed before she turned a page. When the score was five and zero, he quirked a smile. "Difficult reading?"

Miranda slowly lowered the book and leveled a deadly gaze in his direction. "Excuse me?"

"A lot of big words?"

She just stared at him.

"You haven't turned a page since you started."

She let out a vocal growl and with great determination flipped a page over.

"Is that English or Greek?"

"I beg your pardon?"

"If it's the Greek, it might explain your speed."

Her lips parted.

"Or lack thereof," he said with a shrug.

"I can read Greek," she bit off.

"Yes, and it's a noteworthy achievement."

She looked down at her hands. They were gripping the book so tightly, her knuckles were turning white. "Thank you," she ground out.

But he wasn't done. "Uncommon for a female, wouldn't you say?"

This time, she decided to ignore him.

"Olivia can't read in the Greek," he said conversationally.

"Olivia doesn't have a father who does nothing but read in the Greek," she said without looking up. She tried to concentrate on the words at the top of the new page, but they didn't make much sense, as she hadn't finished reading the previous one. She hadn't even started.

She tapped a gloved finger against the book as she pretended to read. She didn't suppose there was any way she could flip back to the previous page without his noticing. It didn't matter much anyway, for she doubted she'd manage to get any reading done while he was staring at her in that heavy-lidded way of his. It was deadly, she decided. It made her hot and shivery, and it did this simultaneously and while she was thoroughly irritated with the man.

She was fairly certain he had no interest in seducing her, but he was doing a rather good job of it, regardless.

"A peculiar talent, that."

Miranda sucked in her lips and looked up at him. "Yes?"

"Reading without moving your eyes."

She counted to three before responding. "Some of us don't have to mouth out the words when we read, Turner."

"Touché, Miranda. I knew there was still some spark left in you."

Her nails bit into the cushioned seat. One , two , three. Keep counting. Four , five , six . At this rate she was going to have to go to fifty if she wanted to control her temper.

Turner saw her moving her head slightly along some unknown rhythm and grew curious. "What are you doing?"

Eighteen , nineteen- "What?"

"What are you doing?"

Twenty . "You're growing extremely annoying, Turner."

"I'm persistent." He grinned. "I thought you of all people would appreciate the trait. Now, what were you doing? Your head was bobbing along in a most curious fashion."

"If you must know," she said cuttingly, "I was counting in my head so that I might control my temper."

He regarded her for a moment, then said, "One shudders to think what you might have said to me if you hadn't stopped to count first."

"I'm losing my patience."

"No!" he said with mock disbelief.

She picked the book up again, trying to dismiss him.

"Stop torturing that poor book, Miranda. We both know you aren't reading it."

"Will you just leave me alone!" she finally exploded.

"What number are you up to?"


"What number? You said you were counting so as not to offend my tender sensibilities."

"I don't know. Twenty. Thirty. I don't know. I stopped counting about four insults ago."

"You made it all the way up to thirty? You've been lying to me, Miranda. I don't think you've lost your patience with me at all."

"Yes…I…have," she ground out.

"I don't think so."

"Aaaargh!" She threw the book at him. It clipped him neatly on the side of his head.


"Don't be a baby."

"Don't be a tyrant."

"Stop goading me!"

"I wasn't goading you."

"Oh, please , Turner."

"Oh, all right," he said petulantly, rubbing the side of his head. "I was goading you. But I wouldn't have done it if you weren't ignoring me."

"Excuse me, but I rather thought you wanted me to ignore you."

"Where the devil did you get that idea?"

Miranda's mouth fell open. "Are you mad? You have avoided me like the plague for at least the last fortnight. You've even avoided your mother just to avoid me."

"Now that's not true."

"Tell that to your mother."

He winced. "Miranda, I would like for us to be friends."

She shook her head. Were there any crueler words in the English language? "It's not possible."

"Why not?"

"You can't have it both ways," Miranda continued, using every ounce of her energy to keep her voice from shaking. "You can't kiss me and then say you wish to be friends. You can't humiliate me the way you did at the Worthingtons' and then claim that you like me."

"We must forget what happened," he said softly. "We must put it behind us, if not for the sake of our friendship, then for my family."

"Can you do that?" Miranda demanded. "Can you truly forget? Because I cannot."


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