“Hello, Susanna,” Max sighed and popped a sausage into his mouth.
“I can’t believe you are still abed on this glorious day!”
Max shrugged as his mouth was full.
“My but it’s dark in here. Did you choose between Charity or Winifred last night? I’m leaning toward you taking Charity for your wife.”
He swallowed. “I chose not to choose.”
Susanna flopped unladylike onto the settee beneath a south-facing window. “But why?”
God, how he hated it when she whined. “Not ready.” He took a bite of his potatoes.
Her gaze swept across the ceiling as she spoke. “Not ready—what a silly thing to say.”
“It isn’t when you’re truly not ready.”
“Well, what does that mean anyway? I long to plan another wedding and you aren’t helping.”
“My dear, Susanna,” he said and wiped his mouth on a linen napkin. “You’ve already had a wedding. As for the wedding in question, the marriage hasn’t even been arranged yet. Furthermore, the bride—who is yet to be chosen, will likely wish to plan it herself.”
“Yes, but I’m sure she’ll want even need my advice. I’m terribly experienced in the latest, you know.”
“The whole of London is overwhelmed with your amount of experience.”
“Oh, don’t embellish so. Why haven’t you chosen a wife yet? I gave you a perfectly good list from which to make your selection.”
He’d never noticed it before, but did all women have the aptitude for chatter—and on several different topics in one breath? “You did give me a list.” He nodded. “As for ‘perfectly good,’ I have my doubts.”
She harrumphed. “I’ll have you know that several of the Dowagers about town helped me put that list together.”
“I’m sure they did—and I’m also positive they added their own relations to the record at every opportunity.”
Susanna opened her mouth to speak but apparently thought better of it. Her shoulders slumped and she chewed on the inside of her cheek.
Satisfied that her mouth was involved in an alternate pursuit, however temporary, he bit into another sausage. After finishing most of the eggs and potatoes, he felt contrite about being so harsh with his little sister. “Now, now, Susanna. I—I just thought that perhaps there was one or two more you may have accidentally left off that list.”
This perked her up. “But who? I made sure every good family with eligible daughters—”
“Did you happen to see a young lady with short, black hair last night at my ball?” Just speaking of the little mouse made him want to give in to a ludicrous smile, which, at that very moment, tugged at the corners of his mouth. Max took up his tea cup and occupied his lips with sipping.
He swallowed. “Yes, it sort of—well, curled ‘round her ears to cling close to her cheeks.”
Max watched her eyebrows knit together. “How very unfashionable.”
“Sometimes what’s fashionable isn’t always attractive,” he said in the mouse’s defence and set his tea down upon the tray. “So you didn’t see her, then?”
“I don’t’ think so. I would have remembered something so—so—”
Susanna smiled. “What a very diplomatic way of putting it, Maxwell.”
He quelled another grin and dabbed the corners of his mouth with a napkin. His sister had always been caught up in the fashion of the moment, but she was even worse lately—her new husband being a relation to a member of the elite ton, even if he was only a barrister. Max thought he’d arranged an excellent match with the two of them, if he did say so himself. “Regardless. I didn’t procure an introduction because…well because I wasn’t sure from whom to garner it.”
“You mean she went to a ball without an escort? Really, Maxwell. You should have acquired better judgment by now. Those are the types of girls one only toys with, not ones who deserve a marriage proposal.”
“That’s not a fair statement, Susanna. Perhaps when I noticed her, the escort was…behind a pillar.”
“Oh yes, that must be it. After all, you have so very many fat pillars in your ballroom—Hey!”
Susanna shouldn’t have been so surprised when his wadded-up, linen napkin bounced off her chin and into her lap.
“Hm. Perhaps you aren’t ready for matrimony. You still act like a child.” She tossed his napkin onto the bed.
Max chuckled. He knew he’d won a small scuffle, but was leagues away from winning the entire war.
“Oh, Maxwell,” she huffed. “You’re so spoilt! You always get your own way—always get everything you go after no matter the stakes. I’ve a mind to place an advertisement in The Primrose League Gazette and have the women line up at your door as if you were interviewing housekeepers. That would show you.”
“Look, Stinker.” He used the nickname she’s hated as a child and despised as an adolescent. “There’s no need for all that. Just do me the small favour of holding back the invitations to my wedding until I’ve—”
“Explored every crowded avenue and dubious alleyway?”
“—chosen a bride, all right?”
If you haven’t already and you’d like to read about how Susanna responds, get Cat and Mouse HERE
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