Fascinated

Fascinated by Marissa Day Read Free Book Online

Book: Fascinated by Marissa Day Read Free Book Online
Authors: Marissa Day
lifted her coffee cup and smiled. That smile seemed to Alicia even thinner and sharper than usual. Aunt Mary was looking down at the crumbs on her plate. Verity shivered.
    “No reason.” Aunt Hester sipped her coffee and set down the cup. “But I am very glad to hear it. I should be most disappointed if anything were found to be wrong at this stage. Most disappointed indeed.”
    “But nothing could possibly be going wrong,” said Aunt Mary quickly. “Everything is already in place. We’re just waiting on the banns…”
    “Oh, do stop babbling, Mary,” snapped Aunt Eugenia. “One would think…”
    Exactly what one would think, they were not to discover. The door to the breakfast room opened, and the footman entered bearing the morning’s letters.
    “Oh, the post. Excellent.” Verity jumped to her feet. She retrieved the letters with thanks to the servant. She handed most of them to Alicia’s uncles, who received them dutifully and uninterestedly. Then Verity returned to her chair, sorting through the smaller stack she’d kept. “Why, here’s a note for you, Alicia! I think it’s from Lord Carstairs.”
    “Who else would be sending Alicia notes in the morning, I should like to know?” snapped Aunt Eugenia. “Read it, girl. What does he say?”
    Edward—
Lord Carstairs. When did I begin to think of him as Edward?
—had a good hand, strong and precise. Alicia had a sudden and clear vision of him sitting at a neat desk as he wrote. A sailor, being used to confined quarters and the rocking motion of a ship, would be a man of tidy habits. That understanding was most satisfactory to her, although she could not have said why.
    Aunt Eugenia was staring hard at her. Alicia realized she had not begun to read as instructed. She blinked and focused on the words in front of her. She found she did not particularly want toread out whatever Edward might have to communicate to her. Odd. She was not used to having anything to keep to herself. Her flaws and secrets had always been so well known by all her relatives. “He thanks me for the dances last night; there are some remarks about how well the party went…”
    “Oh, give it here.” Aunt Eugenia snatched the letter from her fingertips.
    “Aunt Eugenia!” shrieked Verity. “That’s Alicia’s private letter!”
    “Tush.” Aunt Eugenia waved the paper to brush back her words. “When she’s married, she can be private. Not before. Hmmm…hmmm…yes. Yes. Good.” She handed Alicia back the letter. Alicia stared at the paper. Her chest felt tight. Her cheeks felt hot. Something was wrong with her stomach, and it seemed to have affected her vision, because now she could not read at all.
    “He says he hopes to call on her this morning,” said Aunt Eugenia to the other two aunts.
    “Well.” Aunt Hester set her cup down silently on its saucer. “You’d best get yourself ready, hadn’t you, Alicia?”
    “Aunt Hester, please, give her a moment,” said Verity, but in tones much softer than she usually adopted. “She’s barely had a morsel.”
    “She can eat—” began Aunt Eugenia.
    “When I am married. Yes. Thank you, Aunt.” Alicia got to her feet, folding her letter with quick, precise motions. “I’ll go get ready now.”
    She strode out of the room before anyone else could comment, or object. The truth was she was glad to escape the breakfast table. She needed a chance to think. Something had happened last night; she was certain of it. It was something untoward anduncomfortable, but try as she might, Alicia couldn’t remember what it had been.
    Perhaps I had too much champagne?
Alicia fingered her brooch uneasily as she climbed the stairs and entered her room. No, that couldn’t be it. She’d have a headache. Cousin Raymond always had a headache when he drank too much. Then what?
    Alicia closed her door behind herself and drifted to the center of the room, frowning hard. She remembered the ball; she remembered dancing with Edward…Lord

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