Weston’s conversation with Gwendolyn (cont’d)

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“You didn’t.”

At that moment, Gwen’s and Ellie’s trunks were brought down the gangplank.

“Oh, good. Please take them to Castello 4196, on the Riva degli Schiavoni, and ask for Signore Bernardo.” She pointed in the general direction of where Ellie had, in her haste, disappeared to. “Come along, Weston.”

She made to step around him but he wouldn’t permit it. “I want answers, Gwen.”

With an irritated huff, she stomped her foot. “Look, I didn’t want Ellie’s old Aunt Arabella tagging along on my first trip abroad.”

“What about your maid, Dashy?”

“I told Dashy and Mama that Aunt Arabella was going to accompany us.”

My God. “And you told Ellie’s mama and Aunt Arabella that Dashy would be the designated companion.”

“Something to that effect.”

Whatever tension that Venetian woman had sucked from him was back—with a vengeance. “Are you mad?”

“Shh, Weston. Keep your voice down.”

“Don’t shush me, Gwen! Have you any idea the level of decorum you’ve tossed out of the window like a pail-full of rubbish?”

“You’ve never so much as uttered a peep before—”

“That’s because your antics have never tempted fate so that your reputation might be ruined beyond repair!”

“Oh, pish-tosh. There will be nothing to repair, here.”

“But society—”

“I don’t give a fig about society, the marriage mart or any of it. And besides, who’s to know?”

“What of Mama’s feelings? I think she’ll lock you in your room until your twenty-ninth year when she finds out what you’ve done.”

“She won’t find out.”

“Yes she will.”

“Truly? How?”

Wes opened his mouth but closed it just as quickly. He was well aware that Gwen already knew that he was the type of brother whose adoration went above and beyond to let her get away with anything. It always had been thus, and probably ever would be, much to his chagrin.

Perhaps that’s why she felt she could pull this charade off—perhaps he’d spoilt her far too much her entire life.

Yes, it was his fault, for the most part.

“You see? If you don’t bring it up, ever, no one will be the wiser.”

She had him there. “And who will assist you and Ellie with dressing and other necessities?”

Signore Bernardo will have plenty of servants to help, I’m sure.”

Damnation. He should demand that they return to London immediately, but he knew he’d have to do nothing short of plucking Gwen from the ground on which she stood and hauling her up the gangplank, which would never do. He knew no one here in Venice who might be able to stand in as escort to his sister and Ellie, save the proprietor and a couple of the women of the Palazzo ‘d Amore he’d just come from. “Well, who—?”

“The answer to the enquiry now dangling from your lips is you.”

 

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Until next time —

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