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 But does it please you, Kate?
He loves you.
Lightheaded with Riena s words thrumming at the back of her mind, Catherine
lowered her gaze to the safety of the floor.  Yes, it pleases me. Now I must run along,
and meet with your mother.
 I ll come with you. Mother is probably concerned about Mrs. Stanley.
By the time they reached the library, Catherine had regained her composure.
Edward rested his gouty foot on an ottoman, and waved at her. Lady Glenmore,
looking worried, set aside her needlework.
 Come sit by me. Dolly stood, and folded up the Times he d been reading.
Catherine sensed something amiss, and joined Dolly. Richard remained standing his
back to the fireplace.
Lady Glenmore smoothed her hands over her skirt.  Blewett and Mrs. Paige have
been to see me. The servants are very upset at having a gypsy in the house. Mrs. Paige
had to be stern with the laundry maids, and stand over them while they washed Mrs.
Stanley s clothing. They fear gypsies, all nonsense, of course, but country girls believe
all those old wives tales about gypsy curses and the ability to cast spells.
He loves you.
Catherine tried to concentrate.
 Please do not misunderstand me, Catherine, as far as I am concerned, your friend
is welcome but& 
 But her presence is causing problems. Richard thrust his hands into his jacket
pockets.  I ll meet with the servants. They have to understand that Mrs. Stanley is
Catherine s friend, and we cannot turn her out.
 Will it help if I keep Riena out of sight? Catherine asked.  If you agree, we ll have
our meals sent up to my room. Riena is not used to living in a house, and is almost as
uncomfortable as the servants.
Lady Glenmore nodded.  An excellent idea, but do not feel you have to remain
indoors. As long as you stay close to the house, there d be no harm in taking Mrs.
Stanley outside.
 What are her plans when she leaves here? Dolly turned to Catherine.
112
A Very Difficult Man
 Ever since her husband began beating her, Riena has been putting money aside to
pay her passage on a ship sailing to Victoria. She cannot board the ship dressed as a
gypsy, and will purchase appropriate clothing in London. Once her bruises heal, she ll
be on her way.
Catherine thought it best not to mention the ship s female passengers were going to
be brides.  I will teach her how to behave like a Gadji while she s here.
 A Gadji? Richard asked.
 Gadji is a Romany word for people like us. White people, who are not part of the
tribe.
 What if her husband tracks her down? The brute might seize her. Dolly smacked
his hands on his knees.  We ll have to make sure she reaches London safely. Do you
know where the ship sails from?
 From the Port of London, I think. Perhaps I should speak to your staff, and assure
them Riena is not an evil person? She s but twenty years old, and has suffered greatly.
Richard smiled at her.  Let me look after it. I don t want Blewett or Mrs. Paige
having to smooth ruffled feathers. The servants will listen to me.
Dolly crossed his arms over his chest.  When your friend is ready to leave, I will
escort her to London and, if necessary, convey her safely to the ship she sails on.
 You are a darling man. Catherine said.  Riena will not have a minute s worry
with you at her side.
Lady Glenmore picked up her needlework.  That s settled then. We ll all rest easy
knowing she is safe. Mrs. Stanley will be well on her way before our party. The
invitations have been sent, and Catherine, I would like you to help with the decorations.
Let s hope for fine weather. I want the ballroom doors open to the terrace, and we ll
have lanterns lighting paths to the gardens.
 Young people do like to stroll about. I remember how I used to try and escape the
eagle eye of my mother to meet with my current beau. She laughed.  All quite
harmless and such fun. Perhaps I d feel differently if I had a daughter.
Blewett knocked and entered the library.  Dinner is served, my lord.
Richard assisted his mother from her chair.  Thank you, Blewett. I understand the
servants are concerned about Miss Thurston s friend. Ask them to come to the drawing
room after we ve had our coffee. I will speak to them, and assure them Mrs. Stanley is
not a threat.
 Very good, my lord.
Edward dozed in his chair.  Are you coming, Mr. Edward? Catherine tapped him
on the shoulder.
His blue eyes blinked open.  Very slowly, my dear, very slowly. You go on ahead
with the others.
Richard waited for her.  May I escort you, Kate? He kept his voice low. The Kate
was for her alone.
113
Anita Birt
 Thank you. He slipped her arm through his and her slim hand rested lightly on
his palm. The feel of her soft skin, the tantalizing rise and fall of her breasts as she
breathed, the swish of her skirt, the delicate scent of her perfume, it was all he could do
to remain steady on his feet.
 Do you still wish to see me in your study after dinner? Kate smiled up at him.
He should say no.
An unequivocal no.
 Yes. Wait for me there. One of the footmen will serve our coffee. I have to speak to
the servants first.
 Where is your study? I find it easy to lose myself in this huge house.
He pointed to the left.  Past the morning room, the formal drawing room and the
music room. My study is around the next corner.
Kate paused at the dining room.  I m so happy we ve declared a truce. I did not
think I could spend the summer here if you did not& 
 If I did not what?
A flush colored her cheeks.  If you did not want me in the house. I thought you
disliked me, and found my presence irritating.
 Dislike you? Is that what you ve been thinking? That I disliked you? Why you ve
been become part of my life.
Dangerous words. He cleared his throat.  Part of our lives. Mother, Edward and
Dolly think the world of you.
 And you? Kate gazed into his eyes.
Damn it all, she expected an answer.  Of course I like you. How could I not like a
young lady who throws books at me? He d danced around that pitfall nicely.
 You are such a tease. You ll never let me forget that horrid day, will you?
Her smile warmed him, and warmth he did not need. Not then. Not while her
innocent smile charmed him into desiring her. This lusting after Kate had to stop. Too
long celibate was his problem. He d love her at a distance, and take good care not to
create problems between her and Dolly.
Blewett rescued him.  Will you and Miss Thurston be seated, my lord?
* * * * *
Opposite Kate at the table, he encouraged her to tell them more about Riena.  I
want to make sure the servants understand why she is here, and how you came to
know her. I ll make it sound like a real-life fairy tale. Perhaps she is a gypsy princess.
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