“Daniel told me you said you wanted to be alone,” Honoria said before Sarah could do more than look at her with an exhausted expression, “but we think you’re wrong.”

The very definition of family. The people who got to decide when you were wrong. Sarah supposed she was as guilty of this as anyone. Probably more so.

Honoria sat next to her on the bed and gently brushed Sarah’s hair from her face. “How can I help you?”

Sarah did not lift her head from her pillow. Nor did she turn to face her cousin. “You can’t.”

“There must be something we can do,” Honoria said. “I refuse to believe that all is lost.”

Sarah sat up a little and looked at her in disbelief. “Did Daniel tell you nothing?”

“He told me some,” Honoria replied, showing no reaction to Sarah’s unkind tone.

“Then how can you say all is not lost? I thought I loved him. I thought he loved me. And now, I find out—” Sarah felt her face contorting with anger that Honoria did not deserve, but she could not control herself. “Don’t tell me all is not lost!”

Honoria caught her lower lip between her teeth. “Perhaps if you talked to him.”

“I did! How do you think I ended up like this?” Sarah waved her arm in front of her as if to say—

As if to say, I’m angry and I’m hurt and I don’t know what to do.

As if to say, There’s nothing I can do except wave my stupid arm.

As if to say, Help me because I don’t know how to ask.

“I’m not entirely certain I got the whole story,” Honoria said in a careful voice. “Daniel was very upset, and he said you were crying, and then I rushed off . . .”

“What did he tell you?” Sarah asked in a monotone.

“He explained that Lord Hugh . . .” Honoria grimaced, as if she couldn’t quite believe what she was saying. “Well, he told me how Lord Hugh was able to finally convince his father to leave Daniel alone. It’s . . .” Once again, Honoria’s face found at least three different expressions of incredulity before she was able to continue. “I thought it was rather clever of him, actually, although certainly somewhat . . .”


“Well, no,” Honoria said slowly. “It would only be mad if there was no reasoning behind it, and I don’t think Lord Hugh does anything without reasoning it through.”

“He said he would kill himself, Honoria. I’m sorry, I cannot— Good God, and people call me dramatic!”

Honoria bit back a tiny smile. “It is . . . somewhat . . . ironic.”

Sarah gave her a look.

“Not that I’m saying it’s funny,” Honoria said, very quickly.

“I thought I loved him,” Sarah said in a small voice.


“I don’t know if I still do.” Sarah turned away, letting her head fall back against the bed. It hurt to look at her cousin. Honoria was so happy, and she deserved to be happy, but Sarah would never be pure enough of heart not to hate her just a little bit. Just for this moment.

Honoria held silent for a few seconds, then quietly asked, “Can you fall out of love so quickly?”

“I fell into it quickly.” Sarah swallowed uncomfortably. “Maybe it was never really true. Maybe I just wanted it to be true. All these weddings and you and Marcus and Daniel and Anne and everyone looking so happy, and I just want that. Maybe that’s all it was.”

“Do you really think so?”

“How could I be in love with someone who would threaten such a thing?” Sarah asked in a broken voice.

“He did it to ensure the happiness of another person,” Honoria reminded her. “My brother.”

“I know,” Sarah answered, “and I could admire him for that, honestly I could, but when I asked him if it was just an empty threat, he didn’t say that it was.” She swallowed convulsively, trying to calm her breathing. “He did not say to me that if . . . if it were necessary”—she choked on the word—“he would not go through with it. I asked him straight to his face, and he did not answer.”

“Sarah,” Honoria began, “you need to—”

“Do you even understand how awful this conversation is?” Sarah cried. “We are discussing something that would only come to pass if your brother was murdered. As if . . . as if then . . . whatever Hugh did would be worse?”

Honoria laid a gentle hand on Sarah’s shoulder.

“I know,” Sarah choked out, as if Honoria’s gesture had been a question. “You’re going to tell me I need to ask him again. But what if I do and he says that he does mean it, and that if his father changes his mind and does something to Daniel he’s going to take a pistol and put it in his stupid mouth?”

There was a terrible moment of silence, then Sarah jammed her hand over her mouth, physically trying to hold in a sob.

“Take a deep breath,” Honoria said soothingly, but her eyes were horrified.

“How can I even talk about it?” Sarah cried. “How awful I would feel about Hugh and how angry I would be at him when obviously that would mean Daniel is already dead, and shouldn’t that be what crushes me and— God above, Honoria, it is against the very nature of man. I can’t— I can’t—”

She fell into her cousin’s arms, gasping through her tears. “It isn’t fair,” she sobbed into Honoria’s shoulder. “It just isn’t fair.”

“No. It’s not.”