I carefully eased open the lid and pushed it aside. Inside the box lay my fan, the fan I’d carelessly broken last night. I suddenly remembered leaving it on the table next to my reticule as I danced. But I didn’t remember it being there when I came back for my reticule at the end of the night…
I lifted the fan out of the box carefully, realizing the sticks which I’d broken last night were somehow mended now.
“You fixed my fan!”
Lord Windham smiled then, a true, genuine smile that lit up his entire face. Then he said with a wink, “Of course. I broke it, didn’t I, Miss Delacourt?”
I gaped at him. “I didn’t notice you taking it.”
Lord Windham’s eyes glittered with what almost looked like ill humor. “No, but how could you? You were too wrapped up in Viscount Dubois to notice me. Consequently, those are some beautiful flowers he sent you, Miss Delacourt. Quite puts mine to shame, actually.” He nodded derisively at the red roses on the table.
I looked at Candace, who still stood by my bed, a look of complete and utter bemusement writ upon her countenance.
“Candace, did Viscount Dubois send me flowers?”
“Aye – I mean – yes, miss. The loveliest arrangement of lilies. Unfortunately, it was too large to fit in your room, so we had to place it in the foyer. Let me go and fetch you the card.”
Candace swept out of the room, leaving the door wide open and casting Lord Windham a stern look before exiting.
I squirmed under the sheets, well aware of what a quiz I must look, with my hair unbrushed and falling over my forehead. As if reading my thoughts, Lord Windham gazed at my hair, a smile tugging at the corner of his lower lip. Defensively, I reached up to brush the hair out of my eyes.
“You know, your hair is the exact same shade as my sister’s. Such a pretty shade of brown.”
“Thank you.” I straightened my shoulders and tried to look cool and collected, which is not an easy thing to do when one has one’s bedclothes bunched up under one’s chin. I cleared my throat. “Now I really do think you must be leaving, Lord Windham. Candace is right, you shouldn’t be here when my guardian is not present. Thank you for the roses and most especially for my fan. That was most kind of you.”
Lord Windham smiled, looking like a sphinx as he did so. Then he sat down at my desk and made himself quite comfortable.
For what seemed like the hundredth time in less than ten minutes, I fumed at Lord Windham, feeling my normally composed temper begin to rage. Then I heard the most awful sound in the world: the front door opening followed by the clattering step of my cousin on the stair. Lady Huxtable’s more decorous step was heard soon after.
“What are you doing? Get up from there! You must leave. Lady Huxtable has come home and she is going to murder you when she finds you in my chamber!” I pushed back the covers, forgetting all sense of propriety in my haste, and attempted to propel him out of the room.
But Lord Windham wouldn’t budge. He seemed suddenly made of granite. “I’m not afraid of a dragon, Miss Delacourt. It’s going to take a lot more than that to shake me, I’m afraid.” His eyes were doing strange things to my stomach.