“Oh, very well, do you want to know why I really think you should keep a journal?”
“Because someday you’re going to grow into yourself, and you will be as beautiful as you already are smart. And then you can look back into your diary and realize just how silly little girls like Fiona Bennet are. And you’ll laugh when you remember that your mother said your legs started at your shoulders. And maybe you’ll save a little smile for me when you remember the nice chat we had today.”
Miranda looked up at him, thinking that he must be one of those Greek gods her father was always reading about. “Do you know what I think?” she whispered. “I think Olivia is very lucky to have you for a brother.”
“And I think she is very lucky to have you for a friend.”
Miranda’s lips trembled. “I shall save a very big smile for you, Turner,” she whispered.
He leaned down and graciously kissed the back of her hand as he would the most beautiful lady in London. “See that you do, puss.” He smiled and nodded before he got on his horse, leading Olivia’s mare behind him.
Miranda stared at him until he disappeared over the horizon, and then she stared for a good ten minutes more.
Later that night, Miranda wandered into her father’s study. He was bent over a text, oblivious to the candle wax that was dripping onto his desk.
“Papa, how many times do I have to tell you that you need to watch the candles?” She sighed and put the candle in a proper holder.
“What? Oh, dear.”
“And you need more than one. It’s far too dark in here to read.”
“Is it? I hadn’t noticed.” He blinked and then narrowed his eyes. “Isn’t it past your bedtime?”
“Nanny said I could stay up an extra thirty minutes tonight.”
“Did she? Well, whatever she says, then.” He bent over his manuscript again, effectively dismissing her.
He sighed. “What is it, Miranda?”
“Do you have an extra notebook? Like the ones you use when you’re translating but before you copy out your final draft?”
“I suppose so.” He opened the bottom drawer of his desk and rummaged through it. “Here we are. But what do you wish to do with it? That’s a quality notebook, you know, and not cheap.”
“I’m going to keep a journal.”
“Are you now? Well, that’s a worthy endeavor, I suppose.” He handed the notebook to her.
Miranda beamed at her father’s praise. “Thank you. I shall let you know when I run out of space and need another.”
“All right, then. Good night, dear.” He turned back to his papers.
Miranda hugged the notebook to her chest and ran up the stairs to her bedroom. She took out a pot of ink and a quill and opened the book to the first page. She wrote the date, and then, after considerable thought, wrote a single sentence. It was all that seemed necessary.
2 MARCH 1810
Today I fell in love.
Nigel Bevelstoke, better known as Turner to all who cared to court his favor, knew a great many things.
He knew how to read Latin and Greek, and he knew how to seduce a woman in French and Italian.
He knew how to shoot a moving target while atop a moving horse, and he knew exactly how much he could drink before surrendering his dignity.