Charlotte Pullard opened her eyes to the gray of dawn, blinking slowly. Gradually, a beamed ceiling came into focus… but it wasn’t her ceiling. Whose ceiling was it? She closed her eyes again, thinking.
She’d kissed her mother goodbye. Something about that felt sad, wrong somehow. Maybe she hadn’t wanted to leave. And her father… her father…
“I wouldn’t want to keep Lord Pembroke waiting,” she said, nearly pulling him along with her.
But Wolverton stopped altogether. Since he still held her arm fast, she did, too, rather abruptly. Alice looked up in surprise.
“I’d be disappointed if it was. It’s natural for kids to test their limits.”
“Is that what you did?”
Caitlyn slowed her breathing and willed calm to her tingling limbs and her pounding heart. After disembarking the ship, she and Greg boarded a bus to the airfield. Her fear of heights didn’t extend to flying in commercial aircraft. During the thirty-minute drive, she watched a safety video and signed waivers about accidental death. She reconsidered her opinion.
He arrived first and waved off the hostess’s offer to wait at the table, instead walking slowly around the lobby. He’d sat too much the last week anyway, not to mention the long flight from Rio.
Tessa laughed. “I told you I don’t know what he looks like.”
“Just look,” Gabby begged.
He nodded at the phone in my hand. “Looking at anything good?”
“A physiology text book.”
“Sure. Good choice for some light reading on a snowy weekend afternoon.”
Eventually, with enough time and encouragement, he hoped they could become friends. If they were stuck living under the same roof for goodness only knew how long, it would be nice if they could get along.
It had been at a fundraiser for Friendship House, a social service organization in the Twin Cities, and had attracted the heads of companies and old-money philanthropists. The ballroom of the historic Rennselaer Hotel had been transformed to showcase Brant Johnsson’s famed lights displays. Its ballroom was all plaster moldings, ceiling frescos, and soaring balconies on four sides with polished pillars of red oak standing like silent sentinels overhead. Someone mentioned Brant had used more than 25,000 lights on the balconies alone.
As she stood at the window with a sense of awe, her breath left a patch of fog on the glass. Christmas lights and garland were strung along the deck. An unexpected sight with the beach grass, giving a touch of color to the sand below. Gentle waves rolled in. A couple with their dog walked along the beach.
She sat down a few yards from him and sunk her trowel near a carrot, unearthing a rock. Chocolate-colored soil flew all over the tidy linen cravat of Mr. Lacy, her father’s studying vicar, who followed directly behind her, weeding the beds as she continued her story. “You see,” she said speaking quickly and with such animated hand motions that Mr. Lacy had no choice but to submit to the barrage of soil now covering his vest.
“I’ve got you, Sofia,” he whispered into her ear.
“Sorry I’m distracted.”
I’m not talking metaphorically or spiritually or anything like that here, you understand.
Oh, no. I’m being much more literal.
Right now, I’m all alone in the back of the limo, whizzing through the outskirts of Houston on my way to some ranch out in banjo territory. I’ve managed to remove my mic, which was a feat all its own, and now I’m wrangling with my Timothy leggings. With an almighty effort, I pull them up to my thighs, my dress bunched up under my chin. Ever bunched up a sequin dress under your chin? Not comfortable.
The snow had stopped falling, she saw as she ventured outside. Like muslin, white sheets draped tree and field. Their gardener had swept the snow off the pond, and the ice glittered darkly under the heavy sky. She pointed one group toward the sleigh that stood waiting, the horses’ breath fogging the air, and another group toward the lawn, where two industrious youths were already fashioning snowballs. Though he remained at her side, Julian kept glancing toward the pond. Skating, then. Gliding along, arm in arm, their steps matching as they used to do when they were younger. How romantic. Another shiver went through her.
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