There was so much going on in Secrets of a Spinster, and so many fun bits to play with. This scene got cut just because we had another that was similar and there wasn’t space for both. I do love this one, though! So much fun! Enjoy!
Generally, it was a quiet walk from Geoffrey’s London home to the Hamilton’s. A few scattered trees, the occasional pedestrian, perhaps a coach or two, and that was all. They were fortunate to live in a quiet corner of Mayfair, for it allowed them the privacy that Mary craved and Cassandra needed.
Today, however, it was comparatively teeming.
He’d passed at least four carriages, and people were milling about aimlessly, male and female. The ladies seemed to be merely watching, while the men studied. Something was afoot, and his Goose was at the heart of it. He smiled to himself, tipped his hat to a passing couple, and continued on to the house.
It was odd for there to be so many people around before luncheon, particularly when a good number of people had attended the Poole’s ball last evening. Most of London slept as late as possible on days such as this. Perhaps they had underestimated the fuss that Mary would cause with her ruse. He wondered if she had any idea of it this morning.
As he approached the house and the door opened, he knew she had.
He counted nine men exiting as he drew closer. He could not hide his surprise, and nor, it seemed, could anyone else. The entire street had frozen in shock.
“Harris,” the elderly Lord Viskin greeted with a tip of his hat.
“Sir,” Geoff replied with a nod.
“Dunno why he came,” grumbled young John Godfrey as he glowered at the retreating figure of the old man. “He’s had three wives already, why does he need a fourth?”
“No heir yet,” replied the stocky Lord Andrew Oliver.
“If he needs a broodmare, he should look elsewhere and leave her to us!”
Geoffrey had to refrain from biting his lip, secretly laughing at their words, but he nodded politely at each as they passed.
“Ah, Harris, coming to call upon our newest flower, are you?” inquired the always lavishly dressed earl of Wofford as he exited. “I will warn you, I wager she has some thorns under those beautiful, delicate petals of hers.”
You have no idea, Geoffrey thought as he smiled. “I did not expect to see you here, sir.”
“Oh, I make it a point to seek out the most exquisite females of a certain wealth when they are made known to me,” the earl replied, tugging on his expensive gloves.
“Very prudent,” Geoff commented dryly.
He received a supercilious look in return. “Do not think me distasteful, Harris. You are doing the same, after all.”
“I have been calling upon the Miss Hamiltons for years now, my lord.”
“Have you, now?” Wofford replied in surprise. “Can’t have been doing a proper job of it, then. But if you know the girl well, perhaps you know when she usually breakfasts?”
“I beg your pardon?” Geoff asked, struck by the sudden change in topic, and trying to pretend he was not irritated at the snide remark preceding it.
Wofford huffed impatiently. “Miss Hamilton has forbidden callers before she breakfasts, you see. Says she appreciates our enthusiasm, but she must be allowed proper time to ready herself in the morning. You would know these things if you arrived early, Harris.” He looked Geoffrey over with wry amusement, and a bit of pity.
“I believe Miss Hamilton breaks her fast around ten, my lord,” Geoffrey informed him with a bow, tempted to lie, but opting for truth. He was too honest a man. And there was nothing particularly wrong with Lord Wofford…technically…
“Excellent, excellent,” the earl replied with a series of satisfied nods. “I say, have you seen Burlington? He borrowed my shoes the other evening, and I really must have them polished for tomorrow.”
Geoffrey nearly sighed. “No, I have not. Was he not here?”
“No, the devil. He said he was going to his tailor’s today. Something about buttons or ruffles, or something of that drivel. You know I never pay any attention to those things.”
As the earl of Wofford was currently sporting more buttons and ruffles than were in Geoffrey’s wardrobe altogether, he knew no such thing. But as a prudent man, he refrained from sharing this truth. Navigating conversation with fops was a skill one had to learn early on in this world, and he was ever so grateful to have Duncan—not a fop, but a bit of a dandy, if an oversized one—as an example.
“Well, farewell, Harris,” Wofford commented with a sniff as he departed. “Give my compliments to Miss Hamilton.”
“To be sure,” Geoffrey murmured with a bow. “She will be delighted to hear it.” He watched the men leave, then entered the house himself.
For the first time in recollection, no one greeted him. No matter, he could certainly remove his own hat and gloves and did so, setting them on the small table. He ran a hand through his hair and grinned as Winston finally appeared, looking so distracted that he did not see Geoff at first. When he finally did, the elder man jumped and looked positively mortified.
“Oh, Mr. Harris!” he cried as he rushed forward. “I am so sorry, I did not…that is to say, I was not aware…”
Geoffrey patted the man’s shoulder. “Stop right there, Winston. I came in as the other gentleman were exiting. I take it you have had a busy morning?”
Winston’s expression said it all. “It was most unexpected, sir. We have all been a little undone, I fear.”
“Understandable. Is Mary in there still?” Geoff asked, indicating the sitting room.
Winston nodded. “She is, sir. And I think she would be keen to see you after all of that.”
Geoffrey thanked him and entered the room, spying Mary instantly. She was sprawled on one sofa a bit inelegantly, her hand over her eyes. Her new cream gown looked crisp and clean, and certainly suited her, even in her present state. She had yet to notice him, which seemed to be a recurring theme this morning.
He cleared his throat gently, and Mary jerked to a proper sitting position so fast he would have missed it had he blinked. Her wide eyes darted to him, and then narrowed in irritation.
“Oh, it’s just you,” she said with a scowl as she slouched against the cushions.
“Good morning, sunshine,” Geoff replied with a smile and a bow. “I am supposed to pass along the special compliments of the earl of Wofford, though I cannot say why, as he was just in here with you.”
“If the earl of Wofford paid as much in compliments as he does in ruffles, he would still not be as superfluous as the Lord Viskin, nor as eager as Mr. Godfrey,” Mary informed him with a sigh. “I think he may actually have a brain in his head, though I am not sure how much he uses it.”
Geoff grinned and sat down beside her. “No, I daresay he has no need for it. But I am relieved that he has one, all the same. So…how did it go?”
Mary glared at him, which made him smile more. “I do not mind company. I do mind an entire room of men clamoring for my attention before I am fed. Do all ladies have to deal with this?”
“As it happens, I am not a lady,” Geoff sighed dramatically, “and so I cannot answer that for you.”
“So polite. Perhaps we should feed you.” He patted her hair playfully, and received a glower in return. He laughed and stood, holding his arm out. “Come on, Goose, let’s have some breakfast and you can tell me all about your adventures this morning.”
She looked at him for a long moment, then finally smiled and took his arm, and together they made their way to the dining room.