Home > Ten Things I Love About You (Bevelstoke #3)(20)

Ten Things I Love About You (Bevelstoke #3)(20)
Author: Julia Quinn

This last bit did not surprise Annabel. He‘d told her quite plainly that he‘d been cavorting with a married woman before she‘d tripped over him.

But Annabel had a feeling that this was a different married woman. The one on the blanket had been careful of her reputation, departing the scene well before Mr. Grey. No one who practiced such discretion would be so brazen as to leave on his arm. Which meant it had to be someone else, which meant he‘d been with two married women. Good heavens, he was even worse than people said.

Annabel pressed her fingers to her temples. No wonder her head hurt. She was thinking too hard. Too hard, and about items too frivolous. If she had to develop an obsession, couldn‘t it be about something worthwhile? The new Cruel and Improper Treatment of Cattle Act would have done nicely. Or the plight of the poor. Her grandfather had been ranting about both this week, so Annabel had no excuse for not developing an interest.

―Is your head bothering you?" Louisa asked. But she wasn‘t paying much attention. Frederick, her ridiculously fat basset hound, had spotted a fellow canine in the distance and was yanking on the lead. ―Frederick!" she yelped, tripping a step or two before she found her footing.

Frederick stopped, although it wasn‘t clear if it was due to Louisa‘s hold on the lead or outright exhaustion. He let out a huge sigh, and frankly, Annabel was surprised that he didn‘t collapse on the ground.

―I think someone has been sneaking him sausages again," Louisa grumbled.

Annabel looked elsewhere.


―He looked so hungry ," Annabel insisted.

Louisa motioned toward her dog, whose belly slid along the grass. ―That looks hungry?"

―His eyes looked hungry."

Louisa gave her a skeptical look.

―Your dog is a very good liar."

Louisa shook her head. She was probably rolling her eyes, too, but Annabel was watching Frederick, who was letting out a bored yawn.

―He‘d be quite good at cards," Annabel said absently. ―If he could speak. Or had thumbs."

Louisa gave her another one of those looks. She was very good at them, Annabel thought, even if she saved them for family.

―He‘d win against you ," Annabel said.

―That‘s hardly a compliment," Louisa answered.

It was true. Louisa was abysmal at cards. Annabel had tried everything—piquet, whist,vingt-et-un . For someone who was so good at keeping every emotion off her face in public, Louisa was dreadful when it came to games. Still, they played, mostly because Louisa was so bad it made it fun.

She was a good sport, Louisa.

Annabel looked down at Frederick, who had, after about thirty seconds of standing in place, plopped his bottom down on the grass. ―I miss my dog," she said.

Louisa looked over her shoulder toward her aunt, who was still engrossed in conversation.

―What was his name again?"


―That was very unkind of you."

―Naming him Mouse?"

―Isn‘t he a greyhound?"

―I could have named him Turtle."

―Frederick!" Louisa yelped, rushing forward to remove something—in all honesty, Annabel preferred not to know what—from his mouth.

―It‘s better than Frederick," Annabel said. ―Good heavens, that‘s my brother‘s name."

―Let go, Frederick," Louisa muttered. Then, still grabbing at whatever was in his mouth, she looked back over at Annabel. ―He deserves a dignified name."

―Because he‘s such a dignified dog."

Louisa raised a brow, looking every inch a duke‘s daughter. ―Dogs deserve proper names."

―Cats, too?"

Louisa let out a dismissive pfft . ―Cats are entirely different. They catch mice ."

Annabel opened her mouth to ask how, exactly, that pertained to proper names, but before she made a sound, Louisa grabbed her forearm, hissing her name.

―Ow." Annabel reached down and tried to pry Louisa‘s fingers loose. ―What is it?"

―Over there," Louisa whispered urgently. Her head jerked toward the left, but in a way that said she was trying to be discreet. Except she wasn‘t. At all. ―Sebastian Grey," Louisa finally hissed.

Annabel had heard the hearts-dropping-to-the-stomach expression before, and she‘d said it, too, but this was the first time she actually understood it. Her entire body felt wrong, as if her heart was in her stomach and her lungs were in her ears, and her brain was somewhere east of France.

―Let‘s go," she said. ―Please."

Louisa looked surprised. ―You don‘t want to meet him?"

―No." Annabel didn‘t care that she sounded desperate. She just wanted to be gone.

―You‘re joking, aren‘t you? You must be curious."

―I‘m not. I assure you. I mean, yes, of course I am, but if I am going to meet this man, I don‘t want to do it like this."

Louisa blinked a few times. ―Like what?"

―I‘m just—I‘m not prepared. I—"

―I suppose you‘re right," Louisa said thoughtfully.

Thank God.

―He will probably think you have loyalties toward his uncle and will prejudge you accordingly."

―Exactly," Annabel said, latching onto this like a lifesaver.

―Or he‘ll try to talk you out of it."

Annabel cast a nervous glance toward the spot where Louisa had seen Mr. Grey. Subtly, of course, and without actually turning around. If she could just escape before he saw her…

―Of course, I think you should be talked out of it," Louisa continued. ―I don‘t care how much money Lord Newbury has, no young lady should be forced to—"

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