“What are you called?” Miranda asked.
He smiled at her direct manner. “Turner.”
For a moment he thought she might not answer. She just stood there, utterly still save for the blinking of her eyes. And then, as if finally reaching a conclusion, she said, “That’s a nice name. A bit odd, but I like it.”
“Much better than Nigel, don’t you think?”
Miranda nodded. “Did you choose it? I’ve often thought that people ought to choose their own names. I should think that most people would choose something different from what they have.”
“And what would you choose?”
“I’m not certain, but not Miranda. Something plainer, I think. People expect something different from a Miranda and are almost always disappointed when they meet me.”
“Nonsense,” Turner said briskly. “You are a perfect Miranda.”
She beamed. “Thank you, Turner. May I call you that?”
“Of course. And I didn’t choose it, I’m afraid. It’s just a courtesy title. Viscount Turner. I’ve been using it in place of Nigel since I went to Eton.”
“Oh. It suits you, I think.”
“Thank you,” he said gravely, completely entranced by this serious child. “Now, give me your hand again, and we shall be on our way.”
He had held out his left hand to her. Miranda quickly moved the ribbon from her right hand to her left.
“This? Oh, a ribbon. Fiona Bennet gave two dozen of them to Olivia, and Olivia said I might keep one.”
Turner’s eyes narrowed ever so slightly as he remembered Olivia’s parting words. Don’t worry about what Fiona said. He plucked the ribbon out of her hand. “Ribbons belong in hair, I think.”
“Oh, but it doesn’t match my dress,” Miranda said in feeble protest. He’d already fastened it atop her head. “How does it look?” she whispered.
“Really?” Her eyes widened doubtfully.
“Really. I’ve always thought that violet ribbons look especially nice with brown hair.”
Miranda fell in love on the spot. So intense was the feeling that she quite forgot to thank him for the compliment.
“Shall we be off?” he said.
She nodded, not trusting her voice.
They made their way out of the house and to the stables. “I thought we might ride,” Turner said. “It’s far too nice a day for a carriage.”
Miranda nodded again. It was uncommonly warm for March.
“You can take Olivia’s pony. I’m sure she won’t mind.”
“Livvy hasn’t got a pony,” Miranda said, finally finding her voice. “She has a mare now. I’ve one at home, too. We’re not babies, you know.”
Turner suppressed a smile. “No, I can see that you are not. How silly of me. I wasn’t thinking.”
A few minutes later, their horses were saddled, and they set off on the fifteen-minute ride to the Cheever home. Miranda stayed silent for the first minute or so, too perfectly happy to spoil the moment with words.
“Did you have a good time at the party?” Turner finally asked.