The Countess:Madison Sisters 01(10)

By: Lynsay Sands

Haversham nodded politely, waited, and then prompted, “And that would be?”

“That would be what?” Christiana asked uncertainly.

“The something else you need me to do, my lady,” Haversham explained patiently. “That would be what?”

He was speaking slowly as if to a particularly dul child, but Christiana could hardly blame him for that when she had apparently turned into an idiot. She real y had not been made for cloak-and-dagger activities, she decided wearily as she struggled for some errand to send the man on.

“I need you to send one of the servants out to buy a chicken,” she said at last.

Haversham’s eyebrows rose. “A chicken?”

“For Dicky. He’s sick,” she reminded him of the lie. “And they do say chicken soup is good for such things.”

“Yes, they do,” he agreed solemnly. “Should I go upstairs first and see if Lord Radnor desires my assistance undressing and getting himself into bed? I fear his valet is under the weather as wel and incapable of aiding him.”

“Freddy is sick?” Christiana asked with surprise. That was a spot of good luck for them. It solved the problem of keeping the valet away from Dicky.

“Deathly il . I shouldn’t be surprised if he is unavailable for days,” the butler said solemnly, and then added, “I, of course, wil make myself available to Lord Radnor to fil in for Freddy in the meantime.”

“Oh no,” Christiana said at once. “I mean, il as he is, my husband is not likely to need assistance dressing. He’l no doubt rest abed until he is recovered. I’m sure he won’t need you.”

“Hmmm.” Haversham nodded. “Then I shal arrange for someone to go purchase a chicken and leave you ladies to your endeavors.”

“Yes, you do that,” Christiana said with relief. She waited until he disappeared through the door to the kitchen, and then muttered, “Let’s go,” and immediately started forward again.

“Thank God,” Suzette gasped as Christiana headed for the stairs at a hurried pace. “I thought he’d never leave. And real y, Chrissy, you cannot lie at al .”

Christiana grimaced but could hardly argue the fact, so merely picked up the pace as much as she could, eager to unburden herself of her dead husband. By the time they reached the top of the stairs, they were also sweaty and exhausted, but continued forward without resting. They had reached the door to Dicky’s room and Christiana had just jutted out her hip and released one handhold on the rug to open the door when the next door down opened.

Christiana immediately glanced around with alarm. Unfortunately, the slight movement was enough to dislodge the bundle from her hip. She felt it slip off and drop toward the floor, but this time wasn’t quick enough to stop it. Worse yet, Suzette and Lisa were taken by surprise and lost their own holds on the rug. The whole length of it thudded to the floor and then unrol ed, spil ing a very dead Dicky at the feet of Christiana’s maid as the woman paused in the hal .

Al four women stared down at the man and then Grace lifted her eyes to Christiana and murmured, “Final y kil ed him, did you? It’s about bloody time.”

Chapter Three

I must say, Lady Radnor, while Suzette has your father’s dark hair, al three of you have your mother’s features. She would be proud at how lovely you al turned out.”

“Thank you, Lady Olivett,” Christiana said, a smile tugging her mouth wide and bringing on a smal ache that merely made her beam. The ache was because she’d smiled so much this evening, something she hadn’t done much of this last year. She was enjoying the ache as a sign that things had changed for the better, and oh how they’d changed. She hadn’t enjoyed herself so much since . . . wel , since she’d married.

Christiana had spent the last hour since arriving at the Landon bal enjoying her newfound freedom and chattering away with the other married women.

She was doing her duty and gaining gossip about Suzette’s dance partners as expected, but that stil left plenty of time to just converse and laugh and enjoy herself. It was lovely, and she vowed never to al ow herself to be so control ed and beaten down by anyone ever again. Truly, she could hardly believe she had al owed Dicky to do so in the first place and supposed it was only because no one had ever treated her like that before, and she had never been without the support and love of her family prior to that either. The combination had worked against her, leaving her feeling alone and frightened. But that was before, now she was a widow, had her sisters back, and intended to enjoy every minute of it.

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