My hardwired danger sensors roared to life. He hopped up from his place and sat on a chair next to me.

Picking up a ripe, plump peach, I bring it to my nose and inhale. The sweet, succulent fruit is nowhere near as fragrant as Brielle, but I add it to my basket all the same.

Forgive me, he said stiffly. I was of the opinion that you thought my suffering was no more than I deserve.Her lips parted, and he could practically see his statement running through her mind. Her discomfort was palpable, until finally she said, I may have felt that way, and I cannot imagine I will ever bring myself to think charitably of you, but I am trying to be a less . . . She stopped, and her head moved awkwardly as she sought words. I am trying to be a better person, she finally said. I do not wish you pain.

His brows rose. This was not the Sarah Pleinsworth with whom he was familiar.But I don’t like you, she suddenly blurted.Ah. There she was. Hugh actually took some comfort in her rudeness. He was feeling unaccountably weary, and he did not have the energy to figure out this deeper, more nuanced Sarah Pleinsworth.

He might not like the overly dramatic young miss who made grand and loud pronouncements, but right then . . . he preferred her.She really could see over the entire room from up here at the head table, Sarah thought. It gave one the opportunity to stare quite shamelessly (as one did at events such as these) at the bride. The happy bride, dressed in pale lavender silk and a radiant smile. One could, perhaps, shoot dagger eyes at that happy bride (with no intention, of course, that the happy bride actually see those dagger eyes). But it was, after all, Honoria’s fault that Sarah was stuck up here, sitting next to Lord Hugh Prentice, who, after apparently having a lovely conversation with her younger sister, had turned unpleasant and surly.

I do bring out the best in you, don’t I? Sarah muttered without looking at him.

Did you say something? he asked. He didn’t look at her, either.Elizabeth’s eyes widened with wicked delight. Yes! she exclaimed.

Elizabeth! Harriet scolded.Frances narrowed her eyes at Elizabeth. It’s not, is it?

It ought to be, Elizabeth retorted, given that you’ve made her put a bloody unicorn in the story.Elizabeth! Sarah didn’t really care that her sister had cursed, but as the oldest in the family, she knew she ought to care. Or at the very least, make a pretense of caring.

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