Today’s ball has a theme and it’s Don’t tell Lady B.
“Don’t tell Lady B what?”
I look over my shoulder to find Monty, insouciently leaning against a convenient wall, his clear green eyes strikingly observant and piercing. I have the strangest sense that he’s gearing himself up to become a hero in waiting. Male characters always develop a certain intensity the closer they become to being matched. Of course, as we’ve learned here in Lady B’s ballroom, time is exceedingly relative.
But I’m digressing as I fall under the spell of his gaze, which I really should be used to by now. I mean, we all should considering how many stunningly handsome heroes have graced these rooms. But I suppose one is never fully inured to the charm of a handsome, courageous, honorable man. Or even a scurrilous knave with a way with words. Or even…
The impatient tap of Monty’s foot is quite loud. He’s making it very hard for me to continue with my lovely reverie into all the different sorts of male protagonists to be found in historical romance novels.
“Why do you think I should reveal what is clearly a secret?” I demand.
“Because you are about to get into trouble, and the one thing I do best, my dear Miss Darby, is to keep young ladies such as you out of trouble.”
Oh boy, he’s really turned on the charm. First of all, he’s stretching the whole “young lady” thing, and second–
“You do realize that in real life, I’m married.”
“Real life?” He looks at me quizzically.
Right. He hasn’t been hosting authoresses as long as Lady B and he definitely isn’t yet inured to the strange elasticity of the time-space continuum.
“What I mean to say is, you are wasting your talents on me. Furthermore, I don’t need anyone to keep me out of trouble. I simply need to keep my mouth shut so that no nephews or parrots or other sentient beings loyal to Lady B will share any incriminating information that I might reveal. In fact, I should return to my old standby position by the discreet potted plants.”
Now he’s looking at me as if I am crazy and glancing around, I quickly understand why. Most of those potted plants were removed after the incident with Kate and the Ship.
“You are very strange, Miss Darby. My aunt did warn me.”
“Warn you about what?”
And there she is, exactly the inquisitive woman I had been planning to avoid this evening.
I shoot Monty a warning glance, because if he tells Lady B anything at all it will soon lead back to the fact that I had something to hide from her in the first place. This is all rather confusing and a bit of a muddle. While I have no intention of telling her what this secret is, in case I need to throw her off the scent, I believe I should cultivate acceptable secrets.
So let me ask you, What should we not tell Lady B?