The Countess:Madison Sisters 01(9)

By: Lynsay Sands

Christiana rol ed her eyes. Lisa always had been the peacekeeper, forever trying to soothe hurt feelings and prevent the outbreak of battles. Shaking her head, she glanced to Dicky. He real y was a good sized man, and was not going to be moved easily or quickly. “Wel , we can’t take him like this.”

“What do you mean?” Suzette let Dicky’s upper body drop.

Christiana winced at the thud of his head hitting the wood, but explained patiently, “Even if there is no one in the hal now, someone could come out while we are carting him up the stairs. Then what would we say?”

Suzette frowned and peered down at Dicky with dislike. “Even dead the man is a pain.”

Christiana actual y felt her mouth twitch with amusement and knew it must be hysteria. There was absolutely nothing funny about any of this. Her eyes slid over him again and then settled on the rug he half lay on and suddenly she knew what to do. “We shal rol him up in the rug and cart that upstairs. That way if anyone comes along they won’t see him.”

“How do we explain why we’re dragging a rug around?” Suzette asked doubtful y.

“We shal say the rose room is chil y at night and you, Suzie, are going to stay in it and we are hoping the rug wil help keep it warm for the few nights you are here,” Christiana announced with satisfaction. It was nice to have an issue she could solve for once. It made a change from constantly banging her head against a wal trying to sort out how to fix her marriage.

“That may work,” Lisa said slowly.

“It wil ,” Christiana assured her. “Now come, help me rol him onto the rug.”

With the three of them working together it was a quick job getting him positioned on the end of the rug and then rol ing him up in it.

“Now what?” Suzette asked as they straightened.

“Now we carry him upstairs,” Christiana said firmly. “Suzie, you take that end, Lisa you take the middle and I shal take this end.” She knelt at her end of the carpet and waited for her sisters to position themselves, and then said, “On the count of three. One, two, three.”

The last word was almost a grunt as Christiana tightened her hold on the rug and pushed herself to a standing position using only her legs.

“Gad, he’s heavy,” Lisa complained as they started to walk slowly toward the door.

“The added weight of the rug does not help,” Suzette panted as they paused at the door.

Christiana merely grunted in agreement and jutted out her hip to help hold up her end as she reached out with one hand to quickly open the door. It was a very fast maneuver, even so the rug started to slip from her hip and she barely caught it in time to keep from dropping it. Sighing her relief, Christiana started out into the hal , only to come to an abrupt halt as she spotted Haversham approaching.

Unfortunately, Lisa and Suzette were not expecting her to stop so abruptly and there was a soft curse and a bit of stumbling about behind her that nearly jerked the rug out of her hands as the weight increased. Just managing to keep her hold, Christiana glanced over her shoulder to see that Lisa had lost her grip on the rug and it was sagging in the middle. Even as she saw that though, the younger woman quickly caught it up again.

Sighing, Christiana turned back and forced a smile for Haversham as he paused before her. She would say this for the man: he was wel trained. The butler didn’t even bat an eyelash at the sight of the three women dragging a heavy rug about.

“Is there some way I may be of assistance, my lady?” the man asked politely.

“No, no,” she said quickly. “We’re just taking Dicky up to warm the rug. I mean we’re taking Dicky’s rug up to warm the room,” she corrected herself quickly in a strangled tone and then, because she couldn’t lie worth beans, babbled, “The guest room. The rose one that’s so chil y. Suzie wil be staying there. In the room. And it’s chil y so we’re going to warm it with the rug. Dicky’s already warm. With a fever. He’s up in his room fevering so he won’t need his rug you see,” she ended almost desperately, unable to miss the exasperated sigh from behind her. Probably Suzette, she thought unhappily. It sounded like one of her “my sister is a big dolt” sighs. Christiana had suffered them often while growing up. But surely there should be an age limit to such obnoxious sounds? She felt certain they shouldn’t be al owed after a person had married.

“I see,” Haversham said slowly. “Would you like me to carry it up for you?”

“No!” The word exploded from her mouth like a bal from a cannon. Forcing herself to calm down, she added, “I need you to do something else.”

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