"I'm not angry with you, Miranda."
"Well, you certainly do a good imitation of it."
"I'm frustrated," he said, in a way that she was fairly certain was meant to shock her. And then he grumbled, "In more ways than you could possibly imagine."
Miranda could imagine and often did, and she blushed. "Open the envelope, will you?" she muttered.
He handed it to her, and she tore it open. "'Find your next clue 'neath a miniature sun,'" she read.
She glanced over at him. He wasn't even looking at her. He wasn't particularly not looking at her, he was just staring off and up into nothingness, looking as if he'd rather be somewhere else.
"The orangery," she declared, almost at the point at which she did not care if he was going to participate or not. "I've always thought that oranges were like tiny pieces of the sun."
He nodded brusquely and gestured with his arm for her to lead. But there was something rather impolite and condescending about his movements, and she felt an overwhelming urge to grind her teeth together and growl as she stalked forward.
Without a word, she marched out of the house toward the orangery. He really couldn't wait to get this deuced treasure hunt over with, could he? Well, she'd be only too happy to oblige him. She was rather clever; these clues shouldn't be too difficult to decipher. They could be back in their respective rooms in an hour.
Sure enough, they found a pile of envelopes underneath an orange tree. Wordlessly, Turner reached down for one and then handed it to her.
With equal silence, Miranda tore the envelope open. She read the clue and then handed it to Turner.
The Romans could help you find the next clue.
If he was irritated by her silent treatment, he did not show it. He merely folded up the slip of paper and looked at her with an expression of bored expectation.
"It's underneath an arch," she said in a matter-of-fact tone. "The Romans were the first to use them in architecture. There are several in the garden."
Sure enough, ten minutes later they had retrieved another envelope.
"Do you know how many clues we must get through before we're done?" Turner asked.
It was his first sentence since they'd begun, and it concerned when he might be rid of her. Miranda gritted her teeth at the insult, shook her head, and opened the envelope. She had to remain poised. If she let him make even one chink in her facade, she'd fall completely to pieces. Schooling her features into impassivity, she unfolded the slip of paper and read, "'You'll need to hunt for the next clue.'"
"Something to do with hunting, I imagine," Turner said.
She lifted her brows. "You've decided to participate?"
"Don't be petty, Miranda."
She let out an irritated exhale and decided to ignore him. "There is a small hunting lodge to the east. It will take us approximately fifteen minutes to walk there."
"And how did you discover this lodge?"
"I've been walking quite a bit."
"Whenever I'm in the house, I imagine."
Miranda saw no reason to deny his statement.
Turner squinted toward the horizon. "Do you think Lady Chester would send us so far from the main house?"
"I've been right up to now," Miranda retorted.
"So you have," he said with a bored shrug. "Lead on."
They had trudged through the woods for about ten minutes when Turner cast a dubious eye at the darkening sky. "Looks like rain," he said laconically.
Miranda looked up. He was right. "What do you want to do?"
"Right this minute?"
"No, next week. Of course right this minute, you dolt."
"A dolt?" He smiled, his white teeth nearly blinding her. "You wound me."
Miranda's eyes narrowed. "Why are you suddenly being so nice to me?"
"Was I?" he murmured, and she was mortified.
"Oh, Miranda," he continued with a patronizing sigh, "maybe I like to be nice to you."
"Maybe you don't."
"Maybe I do," he said pointedly. "And maybe you sometimes just make it difficult."
"Maybe ," she said with equal arrogance, "it's going to rain, and we ought to get going."
A clap of thunder drowned out her last word. "Maybe you're right," Turner replied, grimacing at the sky. "Are we closer to the lodge or the house?"
"Then let's hurry. I have no wish to get caught in an electrical storm in the middle of the woods."
Miranda could not disagree with him, despite her concerns for propriety, so she started walking faster toward the hunting lodge. But they had hardly gone ten yards when the first raindrops fell. Another ten yards and it was a torrential downpour.
Turner grabbed her hand and began to run, pulling her along the path. Miranda stumbled along behind him, wondering if it was any use to run, as they were already soaked to the skin.
A few minutes later they found themselves in front of the two-room hunting lodge. Turner took hold of the door-knob and turned it, but the door did not budge. "Bloody hell," he muttered.
"Is it locked?" Miranda asked through clattering teeth.
He nodded curtly.
"What are we going to do?"
He answered her by slamming his shoulder into the door.
Miranda bit her lip. That had to hurt. She tried a window. Locked.
Turner shoved the door again.
Miranda slipped around to the side of the house and tried another window. With a little effort it slid up. At the same moment, she heard Turner come tumbling through the doorway. She briefly considered crawling through the window anyway, but then decided to do the magnanimous thing and lowered it. He had gone to a great deal of trouble to break down the door. The least she could do was let him believe himself her knight in shining armor.
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