Home > Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord (Love By Numbers #2)(14)

Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord (Love By Numbers #2)(14)
Author: Sarah MacLean

She opened her mouth to respond, then closed it. She took another step back and turned to fetch the papers she had lost in their fall, now strewn across the grass around them. She was embarrassed, and he was immediately chagrined. He watched her for a moment, then helped, chasing down several of the letters that had blown particularly far afield. Surreptitiously, he looked at the contents of these materials that had so engrossed her and noticed that they were bills—which surprised him. Why would an attractive young woman be handling financial matters?

Returning to her, he bowed low and presented her with the papers. When she reached to take them, he recaptured her hand, running one thumb over her grass-stained knuckles as he straightened. “My lady, I do apologize. May I introduce myself? I am Lord Nicholas St. John.”

She froze at the words, searching his face, and he resisted the urge to straighten his cravat. Extracting her hand from his grasp, she repeated, “Did you say St. John?”

There was a hint of recognition in her words, and Nick paused, uncertain of what to make of it. “Yes.”

“Lord Nicholas St. John?#x201D;

She knew him.

The damned magazine.

When he spoke, his tone was filled with dread. “Yes.”

She was after him. Just like all the others.

Of course, the others had not been so life-threatening.

Or so beautiful.

He shook his head to clear it of the thought—beautiful or no, the woman was a viper—and looked over his shoulder, searching for the most immediate escape route.

“Lord. Nicholas. St. John. The antiquarian.”

And it was Nicholas’s turn to be surprised. The question was entirely unexpected. He had been prepared for Nicholas St. John, brother to the Marquess of Ralston? Or Lord to Land, Nicholas St. John? Or even London’s most eligible bachelor, Nicholas St. John? But to be identified as an expert in antiquities—this seemed an entirely different approach than that he would expect from most women.

Perhaps he had found the one woman on the island of Britain who did not read Pearls and Pelisses.

“The very same.”

She laughed then, the sound bright and welcome. She grew more beautiful in that moment, and Nick could not help but return her smile. “I cannot believe it. You are very far from home, my lord.”

Not so far, as long as she was smiling.

Nick shook off the ridiculous thought.

“It seems unfair that I have come so far and you have the better of me. On a number of levels.”

“I confess, I thought you would be … different.” She laughed then. “Of course, I hadn’t thought much about you at all. But now you’re here. In Dunscroft! What excellent good luck!”

Nick struggled to clear his mind of the confusion she had wrought. “I am afraid I don’t understand.”

“Of course you don’t! But you will! What brings you to Dunscroft?” He opened his mouth to speak, but she waved a hand. “Never mind. It doesn’t matter! What matters is that you are here at all!”

Nick’s brows snapped together. “I beg your pardon?”

“You are a sign.”

“A sign?”

“Yes. You are. But not of what Lara thought you were a sign of.”

“No.” The whole conversation was making him wonder if he had suffered a blow to the head when they fell.

She shook her head. “No. You are a sign that I must sell the marbles.”

“The marbles.”

She tilted her head. “Lord Nicholas, are you quite well?”

He blinked. “Yes. I believe so.”

“Because you’ve been repeating me more than actually responding.” He did not respond. “Are you certain you are Lord Nicholas St. John? The antiquarian?”

Yes. That was one of the few things he was sure of in the face of this perplexing female. “Quite.”

She considered him for a long moment. “Well, I suppose you’ll have to do.”

“I beg your pardon? ”

“Forgive me, but you don’t seem the most … alert … of scholars.”

Now he was offended. “My lady. I assure you … if you are in need of an antiquarian, you couldn’t do much better than me.”

“You needn’t sound so affronted,” she said. “It’s not as though I’ve a selection of antiquarians from which to choose.” She grinned, and it was like a blow to the head. Again.

Who was this woman?

As though she’d read his thoughts, she spoke. “I am Lady Isabel Townsend. And I must thank you for making this so very easy.”

Nick’s brows snapped together. “I beg your pardon? ”

But the perplexing woman did not reply. Instead, she turned away, looking down at the ground around them until, with a cry of triumph, she limped several feet and retrieved a rather sad-looking reticule. Nick watched as she ransacked its contents, finally emerging with a small square of paper, which she promptly extended in his direction.

He cast a doubtful look at the offering and said, “What is it?”

“It’s for you,” she said simply, as though such a thing were perfectly reasonable to assume.

“For me?”

She nodded. “Well, it was for the Royal Society of Antiquities at large.” She smiled at his confusion. “But as you are already here … I think you’ll do just fine, indeed.”

It was not every day that Isabel was catapulted through the air out of the way of a team of galloping horses. But if that was what it took to bring a member of London’s premiere antiquarian society to Yorkshire, she would accept the bruises she had almost certainly received in the tumble.

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