Lord Windham regarded me beneath those strange hooded eyes of his, so like the sphinx he was.

“And have you had other visitors, Miss Delacourt? Such as our friend Viscount Dubois?”

I smiled despite myself. “No, though he did send the most charming card.”

I noticed through lowered lashes that his jaw had tensed ever so slightly at this.

Lord Windham’s suddenly grim look made me nervous. I decided to change the subject.

“Did you hear about de Grave and Isabella? They are to be married.”

Lord Windham’s eyebrows knit together. “Is that so? I wonder why the old boy didn’t bother to tell me.”

I tried very hard not to look surprised. I imagined that was something you would convey to your friend, but perhaps the two weren’t as close as I’d imagined. After all, when they greeted each other at the last ball they seemed like old friends who were catching up on lost time…

Lord Windham’s voice cut through my thoughts, “Well, what does the Dragon have to say about this union? I imagine she knows de Grave is one leopard who can’t change his spots.”

I snapped my fan shut and whirled around to face Lord Windham, pulling my arm out of his. “Whatever does that quaint metaphor mean, sir?”

“I mean, my dear Miss Delacourt, that de Grave has a reputation that precedes him. Surely you’ve heard the tongues wag about him.”

“Sorry, I don’t listen to gossip.”

Lord Windham regarded me with fierce eyes. I couldn’t help feeling pulled by them.

“But you do listen to common sense, I trust,” he hissed, “it is common knowledge that de Grave has oft played fast and loose with the ladies. He’s ruined the reputation of many an upstanding young woman before, leaving them no better than light-shirts in his wake. I can’t imagine Lady Huxtable would not have heard the rumours, or, for that matter, that you wouldn’t have, either.”

The End

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