Home > Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord (Love By Numbers #2)(7)

Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord (Love By Numbers #2)(7)
Author: Sarah MacLean

Gabriel held up the magazine, displaying the cover, which boasted: Inside! London’s Lords to Land! “Yes … there’s no question that this is going to do wonders for my reputation. I’m so happy to see that it’s getting around that I’m on the hunt for a wife!”

The girls nearly expired from delight.

Unamused, Nick looked to Leighton, “North, you said?”


“North is an enormous place. It could take us weeks to find her,” Rock warned.

Nick looked to the pair of females waiting excitedly at Gabriel’s elbow, then back to the men at the table.

“I find myself willing to make the trek.”


Townsend Park

Dunscroft, Yorkshire

Isabel considered the pale, exhausted girl who sat before her on a low, narrow cot. She was barely old enough to be out, let alone old enough to have traveled four days by mail coach to arrive on a strange doorstep in the dead of night.

Eyes wide with fear, the young woman stood, clutching a small traveling bag to her.

Isabel smiled. “You are Georgiana.”

The girl did not move. Her expression did not change.

“I am Isabel.”

Recognition flared in Georgiana’s blue eyes. “Lady Isabel?”

Isabel came closer, warm and welcoming. “The very same.”

“I thought …”

The smile turned into a grin. “Let me guess. You thought I would be old? Wizened?”

The girl half smiled. A good sign. “Perhaps.”

“In that case, I shall take your surprise as a great compliment.”

The girl set down her bag and dropped into a curtsy.

Isabel stopped her. “Oh, please don’t. That will make me feel old and wizened. Sit.” Isabel pulled over a small wooden stool to join her. “We don’t stand on ceremony here. And if we did, I would be the one deferring to you. After all, I am a mere earl’s daughter and you …”

Georgiana shook her head, sadness in her expression. “Not anymore.”

The girl missed home.

Not many girls who landed at Townsend Park missed where they came from.

“How did you find us?”

“My … a friend. She said you took in girls. Said you could help.” Isabel nodded, encouraging. “My brother. I couldn’t tell him …” Her voice cracked, making speech impossible.

Isabel leaned forward, taking the girl’s cold, shaking hands in her own. “You don’t need to tell me, either. Not until you are ready.”

I know that sometimes it is easier not to tell.

Georgiana looked up, eyes wide and filled with tears. “My friend … she said you would take care of us.”

Isabel nodded. “And we shall.” The girl slumped with relief. “I think you have come a long way. May I suggest that you try to sleep? We shall have breakfast in the morning, and you can tell me anything you wish.”

Within minutes, Georgiana had slipped between the crisp, clean sheets of the narrow bed, a bed Isabel imagined was likely far less grand than any in which the sister of the Duke of Leighton previously had slept. Isabel watched for a few long moments to ensure that the girl was, indeed, asleep, and slipped from the room.

To find a collection of curious onlookers had assembled in the hallway beyond.

“Is she asleep?” Isabel’s cousin and closest friend, Lara, asked in a whisper.

Isabel nodded, waiting for the latch to click before turning back to her audience. “Why isn’t this hallway properly lit?”

“Because you cannot afford the candles.”

Of course.

“The sister of a duke, Isabel?” Jane whispered the rhetorical question.

“It shouldn’t matter who she is,” Gwen, the cook, argued. “She needs us! We take in girls who need us.”

“She cannot stay,” Kate announced flatly, looking to the others for support.

“Perhaps we could move this conversation away from the poor girl?” Isabel whispered, motioning the whole group back down the hallway.

“She cannot stay!” Kate whispered again as they walked.

“Yes, I believe you’ve made your position clear on the subject,” Isabel said dryly.

“It’s an enormous risk, Isabel,” Jane said when they were back at the top of the stairs, as though Isabel had not thought of it herself.

As though her heart were not pounding with dread.

Of course, it was a risk. One did not simply open one’s doors and offer board to the sister of a duke—one of the most powerful men in England—without his knowledge.

This could end James.

Her brother was only ten years old, a new earl, and he would struggle to escape their father’s reputation. If the Duke of Leighton discovered his sister here—discovered the women who were hidden here under the protection of the Earl of Reddich—James would never survive the scandal.

The others were right. She should turn the girl out. It would be the responsible thing to do. It would protect them all.

She looked from one woman to the next, each of whom had come to Townsend Park under similar circumstances to the young woman she had just left. She could have turned them all away. But she hadn’t. Settling on her cousin, she asked, “Lara?”

There was a beat, as Lara considered her words. “I know the rules, Isabel. I know what we say. But … a duke. It will bring suspicion upon all of us. She … What if someone comes looking for her? What if we are found? ”

Isabel looked in the direction of the room where she had left the sleeping girl. “I imagine that it is more a question of what shall happen when someone comes looking for her. Sisters of dukes are not often allowed to go missing.” She paused, then, “She is increasing.”

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