The Duchess War

Page 86

“An excellent game. I am glad your husband invited me. What happened all those years ago…it should never have taken place. The game should not have been stopped, most particularly not when you were about to win. It always rankled. It is my pleasure to make things right.”

At that, Minnie looked over at Robert. After all these years, the warmth he felt when looking into her eyes hadn’t faded. It had grown deeper still, familiarity lending him a knowledge of her moods. She smiled at him and held out her hand.

“Come,” she said. “There’s a little refreshment laid out in the main hall.”

But when everyone left the room, they let Oliver serve as guide. Minnie and Robert lingered behind, and once everyone had disappeared down the corridor, they opened the door across the way.

The Dowager Duchess of Clermont had refused to watch what she termed the spectacle, claiming that it was improper and foolish. But Robert had suspected an ulterior motive on her part.

And indeed, young Evan, scarcely three years old, sat on her knee, staring at the primer. “Goose!” he proclaimed happily.

“What else is G for?”

“Grandmama,” Evan said.

The woman snorted. “Flatterer. Choose another word, if you please.”

Evan frowned. “Gray,” he finally said. “You have gray hair. Did you know that?”

“Now that is calumny of the worst sort,” his mother said calmly. But her arms curled around her grandson, and she leaned in, breathing in his scent.

“Mama,” Robert said, “refreshments are being served in the main salon.”

She looked up. “Oh,” she said with a small frown. “I’m…busy.” Her head bent again, and a small smile touched her lips. “I’m very busy.”

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