But finally he realized that he could not put off the inevitable any longer, and he returned to London, feeling rather like an ass. Miranda was probably fuming. He'd be lucky if she'd have him. And so, with not a little trepidation, he marched up the steps to his parents' home and let himself into the front hall.
The butler materialized immediately. "Huntley," Turner said in greeting. "Is Miss Cheever in? Or my sister?"
"No, my lord."
"Hmmm. When are they expected back?"
"I do not know, my lord."
"This afternoon? Suppertime?"
"Not for several weeks, I imagine."
"Several weeks!" Turner had not anticipated this. "Where the devil are they?"
Huntley stiffened at Turner's use of the invective. "Scotland, my lord."
"Scotland?" Bloody hell. What the devil were they doing up there? Miranda had relations in Edinburgh, but if there had been plans to visit them, he had not been made aware.
Wait a moment, Miranda wasn't promised to some Scottish gentleman who was connected to her grandparents, was she? Someone would surely have told him if that were the case. Miranda, for one. And the Lord knew Olivia couldn't keep a secret.
Turner strode to the bottom of the stairs and began to yell. "Mother! Mother!" He turned back to Huntley. "I assume my mother has not also hightailed it off to Scotland?"
"No, she is in residence here, my lord."
Lady Rudland came hurrying down. "Turner, what on earth is the matter? And where have you been? Taking yourself off to Kent without even telling us."
"Why are Olivia and Miranda in Scotland?"
Lady Rudland raised her eyebrows at his interest. "Illness in the family. Miranda's family, that is."
Turner declined to point out that that much was obvious, as the Bevelstokes didn't have any family in Scotland. "And Olivia went with her?"
"Well, they are very close, you know."
"When are they expected back?"
"I can't say about Miranda, but I have already written to Olivia, insisting that she return. She is expected in just a few days."
"Good," Turner muttered.
"I'm sure she'll be pleased by your brotherly devotion."
Turner's eyes narrowed. Was that a note of sarcasm in his mother's voice? He couldn't be certain. "I'll see you soon, Mother."
"I'm sure you will. Oh, and Turner?"
"Why don't you see about spending a bit more time with your valet? You're looking quite ragged."
Turner was growling when he let himself out.
* * *
Two days later, Turner was informed that his sister had returned to London. Turner rushed out to find her immediately. If there was one thing he hated, it was waiting. And if there was one thing he hated even more, it was feeling guilty.
And he felt bloody guilty for having made Miranda wait for what was now more than six weeks.
Olivia was in her bedroom when he arrived. Rather than wait for her in the sitting room, Turner headed up the stairs and knocked on her door.
"Turner!" Olivia exclaimed. "My goodness! What are you doing up here?"
"Really, Olivia, I used to live here. Remember?"
"Yes, yes, of course." She smiled and sat back down. "To what do I owe this pleasure?"
Turner opened his mouth and then shut it, not at all certain what he wanted to ask her. He couldn't very well just come out and say, "I seduced your best friend and now I need to make things right, so would it be appropriate for me to seek her out at her grandparents' home while one of them is ill?"
He opened his mouth again.
He shut it, feeling the fool.
"Did you want to ask me something?"
"How was Scotland?" he blurted out.
"Lovely. Have you ever been?"
"No. And Miranda?"
Olivia hesitated before replying, "She is well. She sends her regards."
Somehow, Turner doubted that. He took a breath. He had to proceed cautiously. "She is in good spirits?"
"Ehrm, yes. Yes, she is."
"She wasn't upset about missing out on the rest of the season?"
"No, of course not. She never enjoyed it very much to begin with. You know that."
"Right." He turned around and faced the window, his hand beating an impatient tattoo against one of his legs. "Is she coming back soon?"
"Not for several months, I imagine."
"Then her grandmother is quite ill?"
"I shall have to send my condolences."
"It hasn't come to that yet." Olivia said quickly. "The doctor says it will take some time, ehrm, at least half a year, maybe a little more, but he thinks she will recover."
"I see. And just what is this malady?"
"A female complaint," Olivia said, her voice perhaps a little too pert.
Turner raised a brow. A female complaint in a grandmother. How very intriguing. And suspicious. He turned back around. "I hope this isn't catching. I shouldn't like to see Miranda fall ill."
"Oh, no. The, er, malady present in that household is definitely not communicable." When Turner did not remove his heavy stare from her face, she added, "Just look at me. I was there for over a fortnight, and I am healthy as a horse."
"So you are. But I must say, I'm worried about Miranda."
"Oh, but you shouldn't be," Olivia insisted. "She's just fine, really she is."
Turner narrowed his eyes. His sister's cheeks had gone a little pink. "You're not telling me something."
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