To Sir Phillip, With Love (Bridgertons 5) - Page 6

“I am afraid that I am dressed for a ride,” I told him, motioning to my riding habit.

“So you are.”

I glanced ruefully at his cousins, who were most assuredly not dressed for any sort of athletic endeavor. “It’s such a lovely day,” I murmured.

“Girls,” my mother said, looking squarely at the Brougham sisters, “why don’t you join me while Amanda and your cousin go for a ride? I did promise your mother that she would show him the area.”

Antonia opened her mouth to protest, but she was no match for Eloise Crane, and indeed she did not make even a sound before my mother added, “Oliver will be down shortly.”

That settled it. They sat, all four of them, in a neat row on the sofa, descending as one, with identically placid smiles on their faces.

I almost felt sorry for Oliver.

“I did not bring my mount,” Mr. Farraday said regretfully.

“That is no matter,” I replied. “We have an excellent stables. I’m certain we can find something suitable.”

And off we went, out the drawing-room door, then out of the house, then around the corner to the back lawn, and then—

Mr. Farraday sagged against the wall, laughing. “Oh, thank you,” he said, with great feeling. “Thank you. Thank you.”

I was not sure if I should feign ignorance. I could hardly acknowledge the sentiment without insulting his cousins, which I did not wish to do. As I have mentioned, I do not dislike the Brougham sisters, even if I found them a bit ridiculous that afternoon.

“Tell me you can ride,” he said.

“Of course.”

He motioned to the house. “None of them can.”

“That’s not true,” I replied, puzzled. I knew I had seen them on horseback at some point.

“They can sit in a saddle,” he said, his eyes flashing with what could only be a dare, “but they cannot ride.”

“I see,” I murmured. I considered my options and said, “I can.”

He looked at me, one corner of his mouth tilted up. His eyes were a rather nice shade of green, mossy with little brown flecks. And again, I got that odd sense of being in accord.

I hope I am not being immodest when I say that there are a few things I do quite well. I can shoot with a pistol (although not with a rifle, and not as well as my mother, who is freakishly good). I can add up sums twice as quickly as Oliver, provided I have pen and paper. I can fish, and I can swim, and above all, I can ride.

“Come with me,” I said, motioning toward the stables.

He did, falling into step beside me. “Tell me, Miss Crane,” he said, his voice laced with amusement, “with what were you bribed for your presence this afternoon?”

“You think your company was not enough reward?”

“You did not know me,” he pointed out.

“True.” We turned onto the path toward the stables, and I was happy to feel that the breeze was picking up. “As it happens, I was outmaneuvered by my mother.”

“You admit to being outmaneuvered,” he murmured. “Interesting.”

“You don’t know my mother.”

“No,” he assured me, “I am impressed. Most people would not confess to it.”

“As I said, you don’t know my mother.” I turned to him and smiled. “She is one of eight siblings. Besting her in any sort of devious matter is nothing short of a triumph.”

We reached the stables, but I paused before entering. “And what about you, Mr. Farraday?” I asked. “With what were you bribed for your presence this afternoon?”

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