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Anne-Elisabeth Devereux

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  1. Anne-Elisabeth Devereux

    Lead Me Not Into Temptation | Tuesday April 12, 2 pm

    Anne-Elisabeth was glad that Lord Silverbridge agreed to sit with her in Church next week. The service would be much more entertaining with him by her side. Perhaps it would become a habit. There was no reason a widow couldn’t sit with an unmarried gentlemen. Widows were assumed to be ‘merry,’ after all. And I’m probably one of the merriest of the bunch. “I used a spyglass in Barbados. I don’t think telescopes have made it to the Caribbean yet. Once you’ve looked through a telescope, you’ll never want to use a spyglass again.” Lowering her voice, she added: “When I set it up in front of a second story window, I can even spy on the neighbors if they’re in their backyards.” As she had expected, he did not allow her to stick her hand in his coat, but took out the handkerchief that the kitten was wrapped in and held it out to her. As soon as she took the little bundle, the kitten lifted up her head and mewed. She was probably asleep in there. Feelings of tenderness she had not believed herself capable of assaulted Anne-Elisabeth as she scratched the little thing behind her ears. Those strange emotions intensified when the kitten began to purr. Surely Lord Silverbridge wasn’t serious? Was he really contemplating abandoning the kitten? There were dangers in the garden. A courtier’s dog … or maybe one of the King’s spaniels, could come across it and swallow it whole! A fierce protectiveness surged to life inside her. That was not going to happen. She would keep the little creature safe no matter what she had to do to ensure it. This sensation was so out of character that it shocked her. Could it be that she actually had a heart? Oh, she had a literal one. It was pounding in her chest at the notion of anything harming the kitten. But a figurative heart? Anne-Elisabeth had always been so certain that hers had died long ago … that the only living soul she cared about was herself. She was incapable of love. Or was she? Was this what love felt like? Lifting the kitten, she held it against her heart, which settled down and beat in rhythm with the kitten’s purr. “It’s all right,” she told Lord Siverbridge when he apologized for bringing up the shipwreck that had killed her family. “I have learned to live with my loss and I know my family wouldn’t want me to mourn for them forever. I must enjoy life so that their deaths will have meaning.” As for the kitten, the young Countess narrowed her eyes. “So you are going to take away the gift you have given me?” She didn’t really think he would. He was probably just testing her. “She is mine now, and I am going to take her home after we part and give her the best life a kitten could ever wish for. If you promise not to let her go, you can carry her again. I think she feels safe underneath your coat."
  2. Anne-Elisabeth Devereux

    Lead Me Not Into Temptation | Tuesday April 12, 2 pm

    “If I ever see a chapel again, it will be too soon,” Anne-Elisabeth sighed. One reason she had suggested a stroll in the gardens rather than a ride in the park was that her bum was sore from sitting so much during the past four days. She doubted she was the only courtier who was happy that Easter came only once a year. “But I suppose we shall both be back on Sunday.” She grinned playfully. “I think the best way to show our appreciation is to sit together again.” Her head tilted to the side. “I suppose we could test my theory by purposefully avoiding each other to see if circumstance draws us back together, but perhaps it is better not to test fate at all.” As far as tests went, Lord Silverbridge had just passed hers. He did not told her that women should have no interest in science and that she shouldn’t stick her nose in places where it did not belong. Instead, he seemed both accepting and intrigued by her unusual hobby. He was also very gallant, leading her around a puddle of water instead of through it. Not all gentlemen were so solicitous of a lady’s gown. In fact, most of them probably wished to soil it so they could convince the lady to take it off. “It’s not my occupation, but I wish it was. Now that I have a telescope, I’m trying to make a map of the night sky. Perhaps you might like to look through it when you check on the kitten.” At the mention of his sweet little gift, Anne-Elisabeth indicated his coat with a nod of her head. “Is she doing all right in there? May I pet her?” Would he allow her to place her hand beneath his jacket? The notion excited her, but he would probably refuse her. It wasn’t as if they were in a private place. There were more courtiers in the garden now, likely happy to be outside after the long pious weekend. The way Lord Silverbridge described it, the weather in the Colonies was a lot like its English counterpart, though perhaps colder. She shivered as she thought of people freezing to death, and instinctively moved closer to the handsome Baron so that their arms would have been touching if there were not so many layers of fabric between them. It seemed as if every day was a fight for survival in his primitive homeland, even in the summer. Insect bites could make you sick or even kill you. They probably had dangerous animals too. It was no wonder he had brought his sister to London to find a husband. And yet he found beauty in it too. Anne-Elisabeth had never seen leaves change color and fall from branches until she had come to England. The raven-haired Countess was quite fascinated with the autumn season. Even feeling leaves crunching underfoot was new to her. “Is spring as cold as it is here?” she asked. “Barbados also has four seasons.” Her grin was full of mirth. “Summer, more summer, a lot of summer, and still more summer. The sun shines brightly and there’s hardly a cloud in the sky. The ocean has a lovely turquoise hue and you can swim in it all year round. Sometimes you can see dolphins leaping in the distance or whales gliding by spouting water into the air. Sharks are only a danger if you swim too far out. Jellyfish are beautiful but their sting can make you ill or even kill you. At night, the stars seem closer somehow, almost as if you can reach up and pluck them from the sky. “I miss it horribly, but I doubt I will ever return. I told you about the shipwreck that stole my family from me. I don’t want to journey by sea anymore. Perhaps in time I may change my mind.” Up ahead, the maze came into view. “What about you, my lord? Are you going back to the Colonies or will you make London your permanent home now that you have a land and a title?”
  3. Anne-Elisabeth Devereux

    Lead Me Not Into Temptation | Tuesday April 12, 2 pm

    Oh yes, Lord Silverbridge had seen her gaze. That disarming smile confirmed her suspicions. Perhaps without knowing her own intentions, Anne-Elisabeth had wanted him to notice. Whether accidentally on purpose of purposefully on accident, his reaction was alluring. And that, she believed had been no accident. “Most places have a story to tell,” she agreed, “but if we encounter one that doesn’t, it is our obligation to give it one.” That comment, she hoped, aroused his imagination … and other parts of him. “There seems to be an intrinsic understanding between us.” Her hand drifted slowly down his sleeve and briefly touched his wrist before meandering back to his elbow. “Maybe it was not serendipity that brought us together at church. If my mind was ruled by fancy rather than logic, I might believe that it was meant to be.” Lord Silverbridge’s innuendo was delectable. “Very well, we shall luxuriate in the delights of the garden and allow it to surprise us with its wonders.” He seemed quite interested in the labyrinth. “No, I don’t know it well. I found it last winter but it was so cold that I thought it best to leave before I got lost and froze to death.” Anne-Elisabeth smiled mischievously. “I don’t think I’ll ever have to worry about freezing while I am with you.” So their destination was up to her. “Then the labyrinth it is. There is supposed to be a fountain in its center. Let’s see if we can find it.” She began to guide Lord Silverbridge down the path toward it. “Do you like to study the stars, my lord? I adore astronomy myself. What does the night sky look like in the colonies? Can you see the constellations clearly or are they usually hidden by clouds as they are here in England?”
  4. Anne-Elisabeth Devereux

    Lead Me Not Into Temptation | Tuesday April 12, 2 pm

    Anne-Elisabeth noted the teasing tone in Lord Silverbridge’s voice. “Envious?” she asked, a wicked gleam in her eye. “If you really want me to feed you fish and give you a saucer of milk, that can be arranged.” She almost added that he could curl up beside her at night as well, but that comment was far too suggestive at this point in their relationship. Her eyes narrowed playfully. “You never disappoint? I have very high expectations, you know.” He was a confident one. She liked that, for it was a trait she possessed as well. But was he daring? Was her creative? She certainly hoped so. His innuendo already filled her with excitement. Did hers have the same effect on him? She was being rather tame, but that was what their current conversation called for. Lord Silverbridge seemed to think like she did … anticipation was worth drawing out and savoring. Ah, so he had seen her looking at his lips. Why else would he lick them like that … so innocently but also so sensuously? Bright little flames licked through her body and she felt like she was burning up despite the cool air on her face. I wish I could remove my cloak. If he did, it would look too suspicious. A lady who lived most of her life on a tropical island would normally be cold on a spring day in Englan. The fascinating Baron would know the effect that his simple gesture had on her and that simply wouldn’t do. “I definitely don’t want to hurry. If we go too fast, we will not be able to experience everything the gardens have to offer. And while I have been here before, there are many wonders I have not yet discovered.” As far as Anne-Elisabeth knew, there wasn’t a muse of fire, Listening to Lord Silverbridge’s words, she thought there should be. There was certainly heat flowing through her veins. It was getting hotter and hotter beneath her cloak. She looked up at him, a sultry smile curving her lips. “I understand perfectly.” Her hand gently stroked his sleeve. “It seems as if we both delight in indulging our senses.” Maybe someday soon, I will be your muse. And he agreed with her about savoring anticipation as well. “Of course I will be your guide.” I will definitely lead you on too. “We can simply stroll aimlessly or we can choose a destination. I know where the labyrinth is. It’s hard to miss. There’s also a walled garden around here somewhere. Perhaps we can discover its location together.” Her smile turned mischievous. “What is your pleasure, my lord?”
  5. Anne-Elisabeth Devereux

    Lead Me Not Into Temptation | Tuesday April 12, 2 pm

    Anne-Elisabeth had seen cats roaming through her garden and assumed that one of her servants took care of them, if they needed taking care of at all. Perhaps all they needed was a diet of rats. She had not seen a single rodent in her house, so they were obviously good at their job. Cats were necessary inconveniences that had to be tolerated, and she had never thought she would ever fall in love with one. “I agree wholeheartedly. This little ball of fluff will be pampered and spoiled. I shall have my cook prepare some fish for her when we get home, accompanied by a saucer of milk.” Taking her eyes from the adorable kitten, she looked up at Lord Silverbridge. “You will be welcome to visit and see how she grows. If I am her mother, than you can be her father.” She chuckled. “We know we’re not savages, but you know how we’re seen.” Her eyes scanned the immediate area. Several courtiers were enjoying the gardens today. She saw two couples who seemed quite well-acquainted. There was an older woman strolling alone with her maidservant, a few young gentlemen laughing in a group, and a gaggle of teenage girls who were ogling the gentlemen under the watchful eyes of their tired-looking chaperone. None of them paid the least bit attention to the two foreigners with a kitten. Anne-Elisabeth narrowed her eyes impishly as she looked him up and down appreciatively. “Oh, I do love my snacks. I have no doubt that you will learn of my preferences soon enough.” Her eyes briefly wandered to his lips, wondering how they would taste upon hers. Lord Silverbridge brushed something from her shoulder. The warmth of his hand seemed to seep through her cloak, stirring desire within her. Maybe I will take him to the labyrinth. “Thank you, my lord,” she said. “And yes, let us get out of the shade of the tree that is still shedding its old leaves.” Her eyes widened. “There are some in your hair as well.” Reaching up, she flicked them away. His hair was such a pretty color. Why did men always have the best hair? “There are a lot of benches where we can rest if you get too tired.” The tall, handsome Baron looked quite athletic to her, He was probably just teasing her. She let him take the kitten from her arms and tuck it back into his coat. It would be much more comfortable held close to the warmth of his body. Anne-Elisabeth envied it for its good fortune. Standing up, she placed her hand upon his sleeve. His smile sent little thrills racing down her spine. “Urania is probably glad to see me go,” she said, indicating the statue with a wave of her free hand. “I’ve been calling on her all too often lately to show me the wonders of the night sky. Tell me, Lord Silverbridge, do you have a favorite muse?”
  6. Anne-Elisabeth Devereux

    A Muddy Scene | Early Monday AM | Before Chapel

    Anne-Elisabeth paused and turned around to face the Life Guard who now had a name. He asked for her address, so perhaps he had seen the wisdom in her words. Or maybe he was just being nice and ... either intentionally or unintentionally … giving her false hopes. She supposed she would just have to wait and see. “It would be a pleasure to meet you under more pleasant circumstances, Lord Langdon.” she said with a wry little smirk. “I live at Forty-One Piccadilly Street.” The dark-haired Countess almost told him about her lost pomander but changed her mind because it gave her an excuse to visit him to ask if he’d found it. It did not contain her initials or anything else that would indicate it belonged to her. If … when … it was found, he had no reason to connect it to her until she came seeking it. “Good luck with your investigation,” she told him. Turning away from him, she made her way to her carriage, desperately longing for a bath.
  7. Anne-Elisabeth Devereux

    Lead Me Not Into Temptation | Tuesday April 12, 2 pm

    Oh, but Lord Silverbridge was charming! Anne-Elisabeth wondered just what words he would use to describe her, but she didn’t have time to ask before he launched into an explanation that she had promised not to ask for. “I should have been more specific,” she admitted with a rueful smile. “It’s an easy mistake to make." One raven eyebrow rose when he said he had not come empty-handed. Had he brought her a gift? The thought delighted her. It must be small, like a piece of jewelry, something he could carry in his pocket. “You never fail to intrigue me, my lord," she said, allowing him to lead her to the bench she had been sitting on while plotting her revenge. And he had guessed what she had been doing! Did Lord Silverbridge hold grudges too? Anne-Elisabeth made a note never to get on his bad side, no matter how clever an adversary he might be. She leaned forward as he pulled a handkerchief from his coat. By the gentle way he held it, it must be very fragile. She held out her hands when he asked her to and he placed it in her hands. It was moving! She pulled the edges of the handkerchief apart and found herself holding … A kitten. Anne-Elisabeth had never been fond of cats. They were too much like her … sleek, elegant, arrogant, and with no morals to speak of. She just looked down at it while he told her that he had found it on the way and couldn’t pass it by. It was so tiny. Were all kittens that small? She couldn’t help feeling sorry for the little creature, probably orphaned before its mother could teach it to hunt. It was innocent, helpless, and vulnerable. If she didn’t accept it, where would it wind up? Killed by a dog? Taken it by somebody who would expect it to be content with whatever scraps they threw its way? Would it be neglected, ignored, and abused? Perhaps she could convince Lord Silverbridge to keep it. She didn’t want to be ungrateful, but … And then it yawned … scrunching up its little face and opening its mouth so wide that all its teeth could be seen … and the young Countess was completely smitten. You will never want for anything, she promised it. I will love you and cherish you unconditionally. You will have everything that a kitten could possibly desire. All the other cats will envy you for having such a wonderful home. Smiling, she softly scratched it behind its ears. It was a beautiful little thing with snow white fur and vivid green eyes. She looked at it in wonder and then raised her eyes to Lord Silverbridge. The fact that he was gentle and compassionate made him more endearing to her and she knew without a doubt that she wanted to get to know him better. “Thank you,” she told him. “And I’m sure this dear little thing thanks you as well. It doesn’t seem old enough to be a mouser. I’ve seen rats that are larger.” She shifted the handkerchief and nestled it in the crook of one arm. The kitten stood up, stretched, turned in a circle, and then settled down into a comfortable position. “I hope nobody who thinks we’re savages saw you give it to me.” She chuckled. “They’ll think you were presenting me with a snack.”
  8. Anne-Elisabeth Devereux

    A Muddy Scene | Early Monday AM | Before Chapel

    So much for finding my pomander, Anne-Elisabeth thought as she saw that the area around the fountain had been blocked off. She hadn’t been looking forward to putting her hands back in it anyway, not even after it was cleaned. There was no telling what kind of germs could be lurking inside it. And the pomander was most likely ruined. A pity, as it had been her favorite. The nameless Life Guard … damn his worthless soul … thought he could dismiss her like she was one of his soldiers. She fully intended to accompany him whether he liked it or not, refusing to relinquish the dagger unless he agreed. But when she lifted her hand, it was stained with the bloody fountain water. The other one was too, and the wound on her palm was still oozing. Looking down, she groaned at the sight of blood spatters on her cloak. The bottom was caked in mud, as were her shoes. Nobody in their right mind would talk to her while she looked like this. They might think she was the murderer herself. Now that she knew how filthy she was, all Anne-Elisabeth wanted to do was go home and take a bath before she went to church. She could question the female servants later. If they knew anything, they were unlikely to do more than state the facts when approached by soldiers. One wrong word and they might wind up in a cell. They might, however, open up and share details with another woman, particularly if she gave them a day or two to absorb the shock. Maybe she would even be the one who discovered the dead man’s identity. Reluctantly, she handed him the dagger, nodding when he told her to keep her lips sealed. “I’ll keep my mouth shut, but I also expect you to involve me in the investigation. Whether you like it or not, I’m involved in this too. A clever lady who always keeps her wits about her and isn't squeamish could be useful to you. Nobody would believe that a lady would concern herself with a murder, and so I would be above and beyond suspicion wherever I go and whatever I do. Think about it.” And with that, she turned around and headed back to her carriage. Looking over her shoulder, she added: “I’m Lady Cambray, by the way.” An accidental rhyme, she thought smugly. Quite literally, poetry in motion.
  9. Anne-Elisabeth Devereux

    Lead Me Not Into Temptation | Tuesday April 12, 2 pm

    As the moments passed by, each one seeming longer than the last, Anne-Elisabeth’s mood turned from eager anticipation into simmering anger. He stood me up! He never intended to meet me in the gardens today. He was just leading me on! She sat on the bench close to the statue and began to plot her revenge. Lord Silverbridge was going to pay for the joke he had played on her. She didn’t see the statue as she gazed up at it. Her mind was churning with various methods of obtaining vengeance. He was so new to court that … His voice startled her and she leapt to her feet. Spinning to face him, her cloak and gown flared around her and fat raven ringlets bounced about her shoulders. As soon as she saw Lord Silverbridge's smile, her plans for retribution began to fade like a foggy mist on a bright summer morning. “I was beginning to think that you had played me for a fool,” Anne-Elisabeth admitted, “and that my trust in you had been misplaced. I’m glad I was wrong.” Her grin was both winsome and wicked. “You should be too. “And yes, I forgive you, my lord. I won’t even ask you why you were late.”
  10. For her meeting with Lord Silverbridge, Anne-Elisabeth had chosen a gown of bright coral silk shot through with golden threads. She had thought about wearing a more subtle color just to surprise the intriguing Baron, but she just couldn’t resist attiring herself in vivid hues. With tanned skin and raven hair, she had the coloring for them. Jewel tones would make a fair-skinned lady with light hair look pale and washed out. So why not wear colors that most ladies could not pull off? Over it, she wore an equally flamboyant turquoise cloak trimmed around the edges with soft brown fur. After a year and a half in England, she had not yet adjusted to the climate after spending most of her life in Barbados. She also wore a thick chemise and warm stockings beneath her gown. With the sun shining brightly in the early afternoon sky, she felt quite comfortable as she made her way from her carriage to the Privy Garden. A bit early, the young Countess decided to visit the statue of Urania. Lord Silverbridge would not be able to miss her standing in the square. Urania was the muse of astronomy and Anne-Elisabeth loved to study the night sky. Perhaps her favorite muse would help her to discover a new star, which was one of her yet-unfulfilled dreams. As she gazed up at the statue’s stone face, she found her thoughts not on the heavens but on the handsome and witty gentlemen she had met in church yesterday. She was eager to know more about him and engage in more flirtatious banter. Perhaps, if things go well, I shall show him the labyrinth.
  11. Anne-Elisabeth Devereux

    To Lord Dorset | Arrives Monday Evening

    Anne-Elisabeth read the limerick she had just written on the bottom half of a piece of fine parchment and then folded the upper half over it. With her letter opener, she cut a small hole in one corner and threaded a bright orange ribbon through it and tied it around the neck of a bottle of coconut rum. It looked a bit plain. Perhaps I should fancy it up a bit. On a whim, she opened the chest where she kept her stockings and chose one of the ribbon-trimmed pieces of lace she used to hold them up. The ribbon was turquoise, a perfect compliment to the orange one on the note. Untying the limerick, she fastened the garter around the bottle and then tied the note to it. On the parchment was written: The note was not signed, Anne-Elisabeth doubted that anyone else in the neighborhood was as adept with limericks as she was. He would know who had sent it. Satisfied, she admired her handiwork for a few moments and then called a liveried servant to deliver it to Dorset’s manor.
  12. Anne-Elisabeth Devereux

    Delivery for Lady Cambray | Monday 11th April

    Anne-Elisabeth had just finished changing from her fancy church clothes to a plainer and more comfortable gown when a servant arrived carrying a box covered in velvet. Whatever could it be? she wondered. Still preoccupied with the horror of the morning and the enjoyment of the afternoon, she was fairly certain that she wasn’t expecting any gifts. Staring at the box lying on her bed, she was almost afraid to open it. What if the killer had seen her and sent her a grisly warning to stay out of way? The package was not large enough to contain a severed head, but there could be some detached fingers inside it. Or a small dead animal. Steeling herself, the dark-haired Countess opened it anyway. Prepared to step back, she instead stepped forward, her dark eyes lighting up at the sight of the silver and sapphire tiara. Oh how sweet Lord Chichester was, and how very talented! He had done his research for she recognized the Pleaides immediately, running her finger over each star while whispering their names. Picking it up, she tried it on, admiring how well it looked on her in her full-length mirror. She had a gown that would go with it perfectly, Now Anne-Elisabeth couldn’t wait for the next formal ball or party so that she could wear it, Lord Chichester was a fine jewelry designer and she had no doubt that when other ladies saw it, they would beg him to design pieces for them too, just as she had told him when he visited her last week. After placing the tiara carefully back in the box, she went to her study and wrote him a short note. After sealing it, she sent it with one of her servants to be delivered immediately.
  13. Anne-Elisabeth Devereux

    A Muddy Scene | Early Monday AM | Before Chapel

    The Life Guard agreed with Anne-Elisabeth’s supposition that the killer had been trying to cover his tracks. “If he did that, then he must be a professional assassin and he meant to eliminate the Dutchman all along. Perhaps the Dutchman was an assassin as well and was contracted to slay the Frenchman before he could carry out his own orders. Or they were both after the same man? Maybe that was the third man, also a Frenchman, and they overpowered the Dutchman.” Left unasked and unanswered was the question as to why foreign assassins would have been sent to England in the first place. She should have known that the Life Guard would be against her perfectly rational idea. Yes, the last time I looked in my mirror, I was still a lady, she thought sarcastically. But my gender has nothing to do with how clever I am. And it’s not as if I would approach the suspect. I would have just asked other women if they had seen a man walking around with one lace cuff. Protesting, Anne-Elisabeth knew, would be pointless. Gentlemen were set in their ways when it came to women, too protective of the fairer sex to see how astute and capable they were. Perhaps when she was an old woman, she would look back on this day and realize that he had been right. But now she was young, reckless, and adventurous and thought she could handle anything that came her way. It seemed that he wasn’t intending to investigate much further either, handing the matter over to the Northern Secretary, whoever that was. She didn’t know if she was included in his plans to attempt to identify the victim, but she planned to accompany him anyway. Whether he wanted to admit it or not, she was involved, and she wanted to have something to report to Nicci later. “I’ll help you question the servants. Even female servants will be more relaxed with another woman present.”
  14. Anne-Elisabeth Devereux

    A Muddy Scene | Early Monday AM | Before Chapel

    It looked like the bloody lace cuff was all they were going to find. If the killer had left a trail of blood, the dogs would have picked it up. It seemed unlikely to Anne-Elisabeth that he would have cut off the bloody part of his cuff to get to a clean section to bind his wound. Just cutting off the cuff would have been awkward enough. It would be easier to pull out his shirt, cut off the bottom, and then tuck it back into his breeches with his good hand. That would give him a larger bandage. “If he was really intent upon not being discovered,” she mused thoughtfully, “he could have left the cuff in the bush intentionally to throw any pursuers off his true path. He might not have gone through the park at all.” Excited to investigate further, she turned her gaze to the Life Guard. She still held the dagger, blade pointed downwards. “I could disguise myself and ask around on the streets,” she offered. “If a woman noticed a man with one cuff or one who was acting a bit strange, she might be more likely to tell another woman. I can say that I’m searching for a relative who is not in his right mind.”
  15. Anne-Elisabeth Devereux

    Easter 1678 | Easter Monday (11th all day)

    John and Anne-Elisabeth Lord Silverbridge’s outlook on marriage was the same as most gentlemen tasked with finding good matches for the young ladies in their care. At least he wanted his sister to like her suitor, unlike Anne-Elisabeth's father who had never asked how she felt about Arthur. He was handsome and charming, but his personality was as different from hers as night and day. Arthur had wanted a demure and proper wife. She had longed for passion and adventure. Her parents had married her once. The next time, she would marry herself. Well, she wouldn’t actually wed herself, no matter how brilliant such a match would be. It wouldn’t be a happy union because she would argue with herself all the time. She shook her head when asked if she was looking for a husband. “I am not yet ready to make that commitment again. I have been widowed for less than two years and am fearful of losing another spouse.” The young Countess shrugged her colorful silk-clad shoulders. “Of course, if the right gentleman comes along, I might be persuaded to change my mind,” His next question brought a grin to her lips. “Exactly. Between the two of us, we should be able to change the views about our respective homelands and perhaps the perception of other English colonies as well. It will be a very beneficial partnership, I assure you.” Anne-Elizabeth’s tongue flicked over her lower lip a the thought of Lord Silverbridge putting himself into her hands. She held them up so he could see them. “They are very capable hands, able to invoke all manner of sensation. I think you will not regret your decision.” Luckily he had no idea where those hands had been early this morning when the dead man had been found. She was quite pleased that he wanted to join her in a walk through the palace gardens. “I shall be there. Perhaps I will not be so easy to find among a plethora of brightly colored blooms. Maybe I should wear a dull hue instead.” The service was indeed over. How quickly the time had passed in such charming company. “Yes, I would like that very much,” she replied to Lord Silverbridge’s offer of walking her to her carriage. After exiting the pew, she took the arm he offered her, smiling at him playfully. “I must confess that this last Easter service has far exceeded my expectations.”