The Countess:Madison Sisters 01(8)

By: Lynsay Sands


“A couple of days wouldn’t even be enough time for Suzie to start her search for a husband,” Christiana argued sensibly.

“It is,” Suzette insisted. “Tonight is the season opening bal at Lord and Lady Landon’s. Everyone wil be there. You and Lisa can gossip with the women to find out who is rumored to need money, and I can assess those men and find out which seem the most desperate and amenable to my needs.”

“Everyone wil be there who has been invited,” Christiana corrected dryly. “And we weren’t.”

“You were,” Suzette argued. “Lady Landon told us so.”

“When could she have told you that?” Christiana asked suspiciously. “You only arrived in London this morning.”

“Lord and Lady Landon were at the last inn we stopped at on the way to London,” Lisa said with a wide smile. “They’re both very nice and were kind enough to share their table with us. While talking, Lady Landon said she had sent you and Dicky an invitation and would be pleased to extend the invitation to include the two of us.”

“Dicky never mentioned an invitation to the Landons’ bal .” Christiana glanced to his body.



“What a surprise,” Suzette said with disgust and glowered at the man. Her foot also moved sharply in his direction before stopping abruptly and Christiana raised an eyebrow, sure the girl had just stopped herself from kicking the corpse.

“Lady Landon also mentioned the Hammonds’ bal is the night afterward,” Lisa announced. “She said it is a crush, and everyone attends it as wel . She said she knew you had also been invited to that. She and Lady Hammond are apparently good friends and Lady Landon promised to send a message to Lady Hammond tel ing her how delightful we were and suggesting she extend your invitation to include us as wel .” Lisa beamed with satisfaction.

“Between those two bal s, Suzie should find someone so we only need the two nights and then you can claim you found Dicky dead in his bed.”

Christiana stared at her with disbelief. “He is dead now, Lisa. After a couple of days . . .” She didn’t finish, it was just too gruesome to say that the man would start to smel .

“We can open the bedroom window and let the cold air in,” Suzette said at once. “It wil slow down decay. We could even make a trip to the ice house to get ice to pack around him and—”

“Dear God,” Christiana leapt to her feet with horror. “I cannot believe you are suggesting this. He is a man, not a slab of meat.”

“Wel , it’s not like he was a good man,” Suzette said with irritation. “From the little we’ve seen, it appears he treated you abominably.”

“And he is the one who took father to the gaming hel and started this latest ruination,” Lisa pointed out solemnly.

Christiana was silent, her thoughts torn. She peered from the man on the floor, to Lisa’s worried expression, to Suzette’s desperate one and clenched her hands. “Two nights,” she said tightly. “We cannot risk any more than that.”

“Two nights,” Suzette agreed on a breath of relief.

Christiana shook her head. “We are mad.”

“The mad Madison sisters,” Suzette said with a sudden grin.

Christiana didn’t smile, she was too busy considering the problem of how to get her husband up to his bedroom. Then there was the smal matter of how they were going to keep his valet—not to mention the rest of the servants—away from him. Another problem was how to fetch back the ice to keep him cold enough that the smel alone wouldn’t give away the state he was in, and then they had to find the invitations and arrange for appropriate gowns for the three of them in very short order.

Dear God, she thought, this couldn’t work, and they truly were mad to even consider it.

“Take his feet, Lisa.”

Christiana glanced to her sisters as they moved to either end of the man on the floor. Eyes widening with alarm, she asked, “What are you doing?”

“We have to get him up to his room,” Suzette said sensibly. “You go make sure there is no one in the hal .”

“But—”

“Move,” Suzette grunted impatiently as she caught Dicky under the shoulders and hefted his upper body off the floor.

Christiana narrowed her eyes and propped her hands on her hips. “See here, miss, I may have had to take that kind of bossy nonsense from Dicky this last year, but that was only because he was my husband. I’l not have you ordering me around like a servant in his place now he’s dead.”

Lisa had just grabbed Dicky’s feet, but dropped them to the floor with a thud and hurried to her side to pat her arm soothingly. “Now Chrissy, I don’t think Suzie meant anything by it. We’re al just a little overexcited at the moment.”

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