Only one day until the official release of Lady Griffith’s Second Chance! I am doing a very good job of not letting anxiety take over by crocheting and baking and scrubbing my bathroom tiles and laundry laundry laundry and really super wishing that I could have chocolate right now.
Did I mention the laundry? There’s a lot of it.
Here. We. Go.
The roses were not yet in bloom. The lack of flowers in no way inhibited the beauty of the garden, narrow paths of white gravel and a small maze of stones laid out on the way towards a gazebo, pleasantly situated in the center of it all. The gazebo’s trellised walls had long disappeared beneath the foliage of the roses-in-waiting, and Regan brushed a surreptitious hand across her brow as she sent up a prayer of thanks for the shade the lush greenery provided.
She’d exchanged her battered bonnet for one in better shape, though in her haste she’d tied the ribbon too tight and now the thing irritated her throat. Small wonder she never wore a hat unless in company, no matter the risk of a tan and freckles that Aunt Agnes seemed to take tremendous pleasure in warning her about. Itchy, uncomfortable tools of torture, hats were. Even worse than stays, in her opinion. And only marginally worse than stockings.
But there she sat, properly laced and stockinged and hatted, while Katharine dispersed tea cups and milk and strawberry tarts. Even Jack and Maria behaved well on the other side of the garden, following the progress of a turtle they’d followed up from the stream.
“Did you have any opportunity to visit London for the season?” Regan directed her question towards Mr. Talbot. Since only a few minutes after their arrival, Mr. Cranmer seemed to have withdrawn into himself. Gone was the smiling, seductive gentleman from the previous evening. This version of him was more withdrawn, yet no less observant of what happened around him. Regan tore her glance from him and returned her attention to Mr. Talbot. Smiling politely, she sipped her tea, which was ridiculously sweet, just as she liked it. “Or have the delights of town already begun to lose their luster for the year?”
“Business kept me from London this year,” Mr. Talbot said, his smile faltering at the edges. “As my father’s health declines, more of the responsibility of caring for our family’s estate falls to me. Not that I am one to complain!” he added quickly, and with a brief glance in Katharine’s direction. “It will all settle on my shoulders one day, so I assume it’s better to be prepared in advance, don’t you think?”
Regan held her smiled and nodded, though she guessed it was to Katharine alone that he was determined to impress his ability to take on the family yoke.
“And what of you, Mr. Cranmer?” Katharine asked, drawing their other guest into a conversation he had otherwise been sitting on the sidelines of thus far.