So there were a lot of scenes in The Dangers of Doing Good that were only shortened, not cut, but there was one scene that is just painful to have gone. After Annie’s attack, when Duncan’s friends come to him and they are trying to decide how they can help Annie in London, the wives all come to be with Annie. This is that scene:
“Oh, aren’t you just the sweetest little creature that was ever on this earth! Oh, I just want to take you home with me!”
“I’m sure Nathan would find that a bit inconvenient.”
Moira glared at Mary fiercely, then went back to admiring Lancelot, who pranced around in her lap and repeatedly licked her face. “You impertinent chit, Nathan does whatever I want. ‘Tis the beauty of having a man madly in love with you and bearing his child.”
Kate snorted and readjusted her skirt on the chaise. “He becomes your devoted servant for life?”
Moira sent her a wicked glance. “Something like that, yes. Is Derek not the same way?”
Annalise was astonished to find that Kate blushed as she smiled in response to that. “No,” she softly replied, “he is.” Kate and Moira giggled as they exchanged looks.
Mary rolled her eyes and grinned at Annalise. “Honestly, you would think they were the newlyweds, the way they carry on about their husbands so.”
Annalise smiled and cocked her head. “So your husband does not worship you, then?”
That sent the other two off into squeals of laughter. “Geoffrey is the worst of all!” Kate laughed, holding her sides. “He is completely obsessed with her!”
“We are not here to discuss my marriage,” Mary muttered, her cheeks turning pink, even as she fought a small smile.
Moira chortled loudly. “No, indeed, I would prefer we did not. Your husband is very nice, Mary, and very pretty, too, but…” She shuddered, winking at Annalise, who snickered behind a hand.
“Quite right,” Kate replied, returning to her usual composure. “We are here to entertain Annalise, which I believe we are doing?”
“Absolutely,” Annalise assured her, still laughing.
Kate nodded. “And to play with this darling creature here.” She reached down a hand and Lancelot raced over to smell and lick it. Kate scooped him up and began petting him.
“Fickle fellow,” Moira said with a pout.
“All while the menfolk bandy about words regarding their current mission,” Mary finished, reaching out a hand to pat Annalise on the knee.
She sighed and took Mary’s hand. “I wish they would not go to such trouble.”
“Hush!” Kate ordered, stroking Lancelot absently as he curled up in her lap. “My husband is doing exactly what I wished he would, and I’ve scolded him for not doing more.”
Annalise flushed as she realized the effect that her situation was having on her friends. “How is it going?” she asked softly. “I am afraid of what all of this will do to them, not to mention you.”
“Not a thought on that,” Mary insisted, returning her gentle squeeze. “We are all agreed to help you and Duncan, and none of us have any regrets.”
“Thank you,” she murmured. “But please, tell me. I…I need to know.”
“Nathan has been having difficulty sleeping,” Moira admitted with a heavy sigh as she picked herself off of the floor and took a plate of biscuits from the table before her. “He is partly afraid of the same thing happening to me, and partly afraid he is not doing enough to help.” She gave Annalise an apologetic smile. “But I assured him, in your honor, that he was doing enough.”
“More than enough,” Annalise murmured, emotions near the surface yet again. “Whatever he is doing is more than I could have asked for.”
Mary sighed and reached for the dog, which Kate gave up very grudgingly. “Geoffrey will not even tell me what he is doing. Says it is better that I do not know. I cannot tell you how maddening that is.”
Kate shook her head. “Derek is the same way. Usually, we tell each other everything. No secrets, it was our one rule from after the fire. But he is standing firm on this.” She shrugged and released a sigh. “I know I could help him, but I think he feels the need to protect me.”
“Duncan won’t share anything,” Annalise spoke up softly, staring down at her hands. “I do not know if he is afraid of telling me what they are discovering, or if he is simply protecting me. I know his nature is to defend and protect, but it is my life and my past that has caused all of this. Nothing could be worse than that.”
This time it was Kate who reached out and took her hand. “And I have never told you how incredible I think you are for telling him about that. To admit to him something so dark and so cruel, but also to have survived it? Without bitterness or malice, or the least bit hardened. Annalise, I wish I were more like you.”
There was no restraining tears now as she wrapped her arms around her friend. And she was not the only one crying. She heard the others sniffling into their handkerchiefs. However had she been so fortunate?
“Amen to that,” Moira said, waving her hand at Kate. “Really, you have to stop saying poetic things, Kate, I am in no state.”
“Neither am I,” Kate retorted with a grin as she sat back, looking rather pleased with herself.
“What?” Mary cried, grinning broadly.
Kate sneered at Moira. “I think we’re catching up to you.”
Moira laughed and ran over to give Kate a squeeze. “Good. These children will need all the friends they can get.” She tossed a look at Mary. “So hurry up, or all the good matches will already be made.”
Mary huffed and tossed her hands into the air. “For pity’s sake, how are we back to me again?”
Annalise laughed and wiped at her cheeks. “Can we talk about something else? For Mary’s sake, at least.”
“Very well,” Kate said slowly, giving Annalise a look of sincere appraisal that she was not sure she liked. Then she smiled sweetly. “How is your little project going, Annalise? Are you enjoying being the talk of the ton?”
“Oh, please,” Annalise murmured, averting her eyes and tucking an invisible strand of hair behind her ear. “I am hardly that.”
“Oh, you would be surprised,” Mary said with a nudge as she sipped her tea. “My sister thrives upon the gossip, and you are all the rage. She has asked me so many questions about you I’ve had to concoct quite a few details about you. Nothing untoward or out of character,” she assured her, as Annalise no doubt looked as panicked as she felt. “Just a few things to keep her entertained.”
Moira cleared her throat. “And then there are the rumors…”
“What rumors?” Annalise asked in a hollow voice. Truly, she had not heard anything, not the barest hint of a whisper. But the, that was the nature of rumors, was it not?
“Oh, that your fortune is twenty thousand pounds, that you are from a very wealthy family currently living on the continent, that your brother married a princess in Prussia, and that your late uncle who married Lady Raeburn actually made his fortune from pirate gold.” Moira grinned wickedly. “I am afraid I started that last one. Thought a bit of excitement would help you.”
Annalise covered her mouth as a startled giggle escaped. “Really? What else?”
“Oh, dear, Moira, now you’ve made fame go to her head,” Kate scolded with a teasing smile. “But I heard that Anne Remington has conversed with queens, is pursued by the ambassador to Austria, and that her home is so overrun by admirers that the butler has had to turn some away.”
“Falsehoods!” Annalise laughed, her bruised cheek beginning to ache from her smiles. She rubbed at it absently.
Kate’s smile softened as she caught it. “How are you doing, Annalise? All things considered.”
Annalise sighed and dropped her hand. “I love my life. I enjoy going out and meeting people, I never dreamed I could even pretend to be this creature. I have ever known such polite attention. I do not enjoy being stared at, but here, among this sort, it feels so innocent by comparison. I feel…like someone worth attention.”
Mary grinned at her. “Then I think Lady Raeburn has accomplished her mission. It was never about turning you into a debutante. It was to show you a world that could embrace you for who you really are. She knew that no one could resist you when they saw you as one of them.”
“Not all of them do,” she murmured without thinking. Too late, she realized her mistake. Interest flared in the eyes of all her friends, and she knew that would not stand without explanation.
“I hope you are not speaking of Marianne,” Moira warned, setting her plate down on the small table before her.
She shook her head. “No, Marianne continues to remain silent on my doings in Society. It could be worse, she could have been insulting and derogatory.”
“But she is not that sort of person,” Mary pointed out.
Moira snorted and gave her a look. “Mary, she is exactly that type of person. Just because she likes you does not mean she would not cause trouble for someone else if it would help her in some way.”
“Be kind, Moira,” Annalise begged, her heart pulling in her chest. “Marianne was so distraught over what happened the other day that she immediately came to my room and cried for me and held me. She did not leave me the whole night.”
“Very well,” Moira grumbled, pouting slightly. “I suppose I shall think better of her. For your sake.”
“What does Duncan think of all of this?” Kate asked, her dark eyes unreadable.
Annalise gave a brief, one shoulder shrug. She did not want to reveal too much about her situation with Duncan. Mostly because she could not have told anyone much of anything. She did not know what their relationship entailed. What were they to each other? How did he really feel about her? He was good to her, far too good, but what did that mean? He was protective of her, but was that simply his nature? He kissed her… Her fingers and lips tingled with the memories.
She loved him. She had known that for some time now, and each day solidified her feelings more and more. He was the best of all men. He was handsome, he was generous, he was kind, and yet he was humble and modest. He was charming and humorous, self-deprecating yet uplifting. She wanted nothing more than to be the sort of woman he could love and deserve. It was the dream she could never fathom actually achieving. It was everything.
What did he think of all of this? She did not know.
“I do not know,” she finally said, keeping her voice careful. “He does not say much on the subject.”
“Duncan does not say much on anything,” Moira offered with a grin.
Annalise smiled at her friend. It was true. And she loved him for it. “He tells me to do what makes me happy. Whatever I want. When Tibby approached him with the idea, his condition on allowing it was that I could not be coerced. I had to want it for myself. He refused to give me his opinion or advise me in any way.”
“Again, that is Duncan.” Kate chuckled softly. “The man is a saint, I swear it. But so maddening. No one knows what he really thinks.”
“Exactly!” Annalise cried in exasperation. “I have never known how he is truly feeling. But the other day…” She hesitated, not wanting them to know the full extent of what had happened after they had left the room. “Well, he was concerned that I had become so overwhelmed and I received the impression that he did not like this. But then I see his expression when I…” She trailed off, knowing she was now treading on very dangerous ground.
“Go on…” Moira prodded with a smile.
She sighed and fought to find the right words. “He is so different when we are out in public and I have admirers. You know how friendly and warm he can be, how quick to offer assistance or to make someone smile.”
Each of the women smiled and nodded, and she saw true understanding in their eyes. Another reason to love Duncan, and these women before her.
“He is not like that anymore.” She winced at how harsh that sounded. “Not in public. Not with me.”
“Is he now?” Moira asked, looking at the other two women as if for confirmation.
Annalise nodded. “He compliments me, escorts me, but does not have anything to do with me after that. He…he has never danced with me.” Her cheeks pinked at that. “He is one of very few people who really know me, and I desperately want his good opinion, and to know if he approves. But he does not say or do anything to indicate one way or another. On the contrary, he seems to be distancing himself from me.”
“And you want him to be closer.” It was not a question. Kate knew exactly what Annalise could not find the words to express.
She swallowed hard and gave a brief nod. “Sometimes I think there is something, but then…nothing.”
“That says quite a bit, actually,” Mary spoke up. “About how Duncan really feels.”
Annalise frowned, not comprehending what her friend was saying. “But he never comes to me. He stays in place as if rooted there. And watches. He always just watches.”
Moira snorted and tossed her vibrant hair. “Well, then, you should go to him, my dear.”
A startled gasp escaped Annalise. “I could never!” she managed to stammer.
Mary sighed and took her hand, letting Lancelot hop to the floor and curl before the fire. “You are shy, Annalise. And insecure, I know. But what you do not realize is that Duncan is also shy. And just as insecure. He will not act unless he is confident. And you terrify him.”
She could only stare for what seemed an age. “I…I what?”
Mary smiled, nodding slowly. “He is not as brave as he would like you to think, my dear. None of them are. Not when it comes to the heart.”
“But…do you think there is a chance?” she asked in a very small voice.
“Oh, I think there is a chance,” Kate mused with a slow grin. “I definitely think there is a chance.”