“I love him.”
Honoria did not stop rubbing her back. “I know that you do.”
“And I feel like a monster, being upset that he said—” Sarah gasped, her lungs pulling in an unexpected gulp of air. “That he said that he would kill himself, and then I begged him to tell me that he wouldn’t do it, when shouldn’t I really be upset that all this would mean that something had happened to Daniel?”
“But you can see why Lord Hugh made that bargain in the first place,” Honoria said. “Can’t you?”
Sarah nodded against her. Her lungs hurt. Her whole body hurt. “But it should be different now,” she whispered. “He should feel differently now. I should mean something.”
“And you do,” Honoria said reassuringly. “I know that you do. I’ve seen the way you look at each other when you think no one is watching.”
Sarah pulled back just far enough to look at her cousin’s face. Honoria was gazing down at her with the tiniest of smiles, and her eyes—her amazing lavender eyes that Sarah had always envied—were clear and serene.
Was that the difference between the two of them? Sarah wondered. Honoria approached each day as if the world were made of greenglass seas and soft ocean breezes. Sarah’s world was one storm after another. She’d never had a serene day in her life.
“I’ve watched the way he looks at you,” Honoria said. “He is in love with you.”
“He has not said it.”
Sarah let her silence be her reply.
Honoria reached out and took her hand. “You might have to be the brave one and say it first.”
“That’s easy for you to say,” Sarah said, thinking of Marcus, always so honorable and reserved. “You fell in love with the easiest, loveliest, least complicated man in England.”
Honoria gave a sympathetic shrug. “We can’t help with whom we fall in love. And you’re not the easiest, least complicated woman in England, you know.”
Sarah gave her a sideways look. “You left out loveliest.”
“Well, you might be the loveliest,” Honoria said with a crooked smile. Then she nudged Sarah with her elbow. “I daresay Lord Hugh thinks you’re the loveliest.”
Sarah buried her face in her hands. “What am I going to do?”
“I think you’re going to have to talk to him.”
Sarah knew Honoria was right, but she could not stop her mind from racing through all of the eventualities such a conversation might bring. “What if he says he will hold to the bargain?” she finally asked, her voice small and scared.
Several seconds went by, and Honoria said, “Then at least you will know. But if you don’t ask him, you will never know what he might have said. Just think if Romeo and Juliet had actually talked to each other.”
Sarah looked up, momentarily flabbergasted. “That’s a terrible comparison.”
“Sorry, yes, you’re right.” Honoria looked abashed, then changed her mind and pointed at Sarah with a jaunty finger. “But it made you stop crying.”
“If only to scold you.”
“You may scold me all you wish if it brings a smile back to your face. But you must promise me that you will talk to him. You don’t want some big, awful misunderstanding to ruin your chance at happiness.”
“What you’re saying is, if my life is to be ruined, I need to do it myself?” Sarah asked in a dry voice.
“It’s not quite how I would have put it, but yes.”
Sarah was quiet for a long moment, and then she asked, almost absentmindedly, “Did you know he can multiply large sums in his head?”
Honoria smiled indulgently. “No, but it does not surprise me.”
“It takes him only an instant. He tried to explain it once, what it looks like in his head when he does it, but I couldn’t follow a thing he was saying.”
“Arithmetic works in mysterious ways.”
Sarah rolled her eyes. “As opposed to love?”
“Love is entirely incomprehensible,” Honoria said. “Arithmetic is merely mysterious.” She shrugged, stood up, and held out a hand to Sarah. “Or maybe it’s the other way around. Shall we go find out?”
“You’re coming with me?”
“Just to help you locate him.” She gave a little one-shouldered shrug. “It’s a large house.”
Sarah quirked a suspicious brow. “You’re afraid I will lose my nerve.”
“Without a doubt,” Honoria confirmed.
“I won’t,” Sarah said, and despite the butterflies in her stomach and dread in her heart, she knew it was true. She was not one to back down from her fears. And she would never be able to live with herself if she did not do everything in her power to ensure her own happiness.
And Hugh’s. Because if anyone in this world deserved a happy ending, it was he.
“But not right away,” Sarah said. “I need to tidy up. I don’t want to go to him looking as if I’ve been crying.”
“He should know he made you cry.”
“Why, Honoria Smythe-Smith, that might be the most hard-hearted thing I have ever heard you say.”
“It’s Honoria Holroyd now,” Honoria said pertly, “and it’s true. The only thing worse than a man who makes a woman cry is a man who makes a woman cry and then doesn’t feel guilty about it.”
Sarah looked at her with a new sort of respect. “Married life agrees with you.”
Honoria’s smile was a touch smug. “It does, doesn’t it?”