Read A Night Like This Online

Authors: Julia Quinn

A Night Like This (25 page)

BOOK: A Night Like This
4.87Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

“Perhaps just the primary five,” he demurred.

“Well. . .” She paused.

And paused.

He gave her a dry look. “Is it realy so difficult to come up with five?”

Her eyes were so wide and innocent that he almost believed her when she said, “Oh, no, it’s just that it’s a chalenge to pick my favorites.”

“At random, then,” he suggested.

“Very wel.” Her mouth scrunched up on one side as she thought. “There is your smile. I adore your smile.”

“I adore your smile, too!”

“You have a lovely sense of humor.”

“So do you!”

She gave him a stern look.

“I can’t help it if you’re taking all the good reasons,” he said.

“You
don’t
play a musical instrument.”

He looked at her blankly.

He looked at her blankly.

“Like the rest of your family,” she clarified. “I just don’t know if I could bear it, having to listen to you practice.” He leaned forward with a roguish tilt of his head. “What makes you think I
don’t
play an instrument?”

“You don’t!” she gasped, and he almost thought she might be ready to reconsider having accepted him.

“I don’t,” he confirmed. “Which is not to say I haven’t taken lessons.”

She gazed at him questioningly.

“The boys of the family are not required to continue lessons once they leave for school. Unless they show exceptional talent.”

“Have any shown exceptional talent?”

“Not a one,” he said cheerfuly. He rose to his feet and held out his hand. It was time to go home.

“Wasn’t I supposed to give you two more reasons?” she asked, letting him help her to her feet.

“Oh, you can tell me later,” he said. “We have lots of time.”

“But I just thought of one.”

He turned with a quizzical brow. “You say that like it took a great effort.”

“It’s actualy more of a moment,” she said.

“A moment?”

She nodded, folowing him out the door into the halway. “On the night we first met. I was prepared to leave you in the back hal, you know.”

“Bruised and bleeding?” He tried for outrage, but he rather thought his smile ruined the effect.

“I would lose my position if I were caught with you, and I’d already been trapped in that storage closet for heaven knows how long. I realy didn’t have time to help tend to your wounds.”

“But you did.”

“I did,” she said.

“Because of my charming smile and lovely sense of humor?”

“No,” she said plainly. “It was because of your sister.”

“Honoria?” he asked in surprise.

“You were defending her,” she said with a helpless shrug. “How could I abandon a man who defended his sister?” To Daniel’s embarrassment, his cheeks grew warm. “Wel, anyone would have done so,” he mumbled.

Halfway down the stairs, Anne exclaimed, “Oh, I thought of another one! When we were practicing Harriet’s play. You
would
have been the wild boar if she’d asked.”

“No, I wouldn’t.”

She patted his arm as they stepped outside. “Yes, you would.”

“Very wel, I would,” he lied.

She looked at him shrewdly. “You think you’re just saying that to placate me, but I know you would have been a good sport.” Good gracious, it was like they were an old married couple already.

“Oh, I thought of another one!”

He looked at her, at her shining eyes, so full of love, and hope, and promise. “Two, actualy,” she said.

He smiled. He could think of thousands.

Epilogue

Another year, another Smythe-Smith musicale . . .

“I
think Daisy had better step to the right,” Daniel murmured into his wife’s ear. “Sarah looks as if she might bite her head off.” Anne cast a nervous glance at Sarah, who, having used up her only possible excuse the year before, was back up on the stage, at the piano . . .

Murdering the keys.

Anne could only deduce that she’d decided that fury was preferable to abject misery. Heaven only knew if the piano would survive the encounter.

Even worse was Harriet, who’d been conscripted that year to replace Honoria, who, as the new Lady Chatteris, no longer had to perform.

Marriage or death. Those were the only avenues of escape, Sarah had grimly told Anne the day before when Anne had stopped by to see how the rehearsals were going.

Whose death, Anne wasn’t sure. When Anne had arrived, Sarah had somehow got hold of Harriet’s violin bow and was brandishing it like a sword. Daisy was shrieking, Iris was moaning, and Harriet had been gasping with delight as she wrote it all down for future use in a play.

“Why is Harriet talking to herself?” Daniel asked, his whispered voice bringing Anne back to the here and now.

“She doesn’t know how to read music.”


What
?”

Several people looked their way, including Daisy, whose glare could only be described as homicidal.

“What?” Daniel repeated, far more quietly.

“She can’t read music,” Anne whispered back, keeping her eyes politely on the unfolding concert. “She told me she’s never been able to learn. She got Honoria to

“She can’t read music,” Anne whispered back, keeping her eyes politely on the unfolding concert. “She told me she’s never been able to learn. She got Honoria to write the notes out and then she memorized them.” She looked over at Harriet, who was mouthing the notes so clearly that even the guests in the back row would surely realize she’d just played—or rather, attempted to play—B-flat.

“Why couldn’t she just read the letters Honoria wrote out for her?”

“I don’t know,” Anne admitted. She smiled encouragingly at Harriet, who grinned back.

Ah, Harriet. One realy had to love her. And Anne did, even more so now that she was a member of the family. She loved being a Smythe-Smith. She loved the noise, and the constant stream of cousins in her drawing room, and how lovely they’d all been to her sister Charlotte when she’d come for a visit earlier that spring.

But most of al, she loved being a Smythe-Smith who did
not
have to perform at the musicale. Because unlike the rest of the audience, whose groans and grumbles Anne could clearly hear around her, she knew the truth:

It was far, far worse up on the stage than it was in the seats.

Although . . .

“I cannot bring myself to lose all affection for the concert,” she whispered to Daniel.

“Realy?” He winced when Harriet did something unspeakable with her violin. “Because I cannot bring myself to lose all affection for my hearing.”

“But without the musicale, we should never have met,” she reminded him.

“Oh, I think I would have found you.”

“But not on a night like this.”

“No.” He smiled and took her hand. It was incredibly gauche, and not at all what married couples were supposed to do in public, but Anne did not care. She twined her fingers through his and smiled. And it no longer mattered that Sarah was pounding the piano keys or that Harriet had started to recite her notes so loudly that the first row of the audience could hear her speak.

She had Daniel, and she was holding his hand.

That was realy all that mattered.

About the Author

JULIA QUINN started writing her first book one month after finishing colege and has been tapping away at her keyboard ever since.

The
New York Times
bestseling author of twenty-two novels for Avon Books, she is a graduate of Harvard and Radcliffe Coleges and lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest.

Please visit her on the web at www.juliaquinn.com.

Visit www.AuthorTracker.com for exclusive information on your favorite HarperColins authors.

By Julia Quinn

A Night Like This

Just Like Heaven

Ten Things I Love About You

What Happens in London

Mr. Cavendish, I Presume

The Lost Duke of Wyndham

The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever

On the Way to the Wedding

It’s In His Kiss

When He Was Wicked

To Sir Phillip, With Love

Romancing Mister Bridgerton

An Offer From a Gentleman

The Viscount Who Loved Me

The Duke and I

How to Marry a Marquis

To Catch an Heiress

To Catch an Heiress

Brighter Than the Sun

Everything and the Moon

Minx

Dancing at Midnight

Splendid

Copyright

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

A NIGHT LIKE THIS. Copyright © 2012 by Julie Cotler Pottinger. All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the nonexclusive, nontransferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, decompiled, reverse-engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of HarperCollins e-books.

EPub Edition JUNE 2012 ISBN: 9780062072917

Print Edition ISBN: 9780062072900

FIRST EDITION

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

About the Publisher

Australia

HarperColins Publishers (Australia) Pty. Ltd.

Level 13, 201 Elizabeth Street

Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia

http://www.harpercolins.com.au

Canada

HarperColins Canada

2 Bloor Street East - 20th Floor

Toronto, ON, M4W, 1A8, Canada

http://www.harpercolins.ca

New Zealand

HarperColins Publishers (New Zealand) Limited

P.O. Box 1

Auckland, New Zealand

http://www.harpercolins.co.nz

United Kingdom

HarperColins Publishers Ltd.

77-85 Fulham Palace Road

London, W6 8JB, UK

http://www.harpercolins.co.uk

United States

HarperColins Publishers Inc.

10 East 53rd Street

10 East 53rd Street

New York, NY 10022

http://www.harpercolins.com

BOOK: A Night Like This
4.87Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

The Luxe by Anna Godbersen
The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Boot Camp by Todd Strasser
Living Witness by Jane Haddam
Dangerously Happy by Varian Krylov
Kiss Lonely Goodbye by Lynn Emery
Yon Ill Wind by Anthony, Piers