"They're certainly not intellectual," Leo had said, and grinned as she punched him in the shoulder.
After much reflection, however. Win had had to admit that Leo had a point. Of course, Merripen was far more intelligent, and educated, than her brother gave him credit for. As far as she remembered, Merripen had challenged Leo in many a philosophical discussion and had memorized more Greek and Latin than anyone else in the family except her father. But Merripen had only learned those things to fit in with the Hathaways, not because he had any real interest in obtaining an education.
Merripen was a man of nature; he craved the feel of earth and sky. He would never be more than half-tame. And he and Win were as different as fish from fowl.
Julian took her hand in his long, elegant one. His fingers were smooth and well tended, tapered at the tips. "Winnifred," he said gently, "now that we're away from the clinic, life won't be quite so well regulated. You must safeguard your health. Make certain you rest tonight, no matter how tempting it is to stay up all hours."
"Yes, Doctor," Win said, smiling up at him. She felt a surge of affection for him, remembering the first time she had managed to climb the exercise ladder in the clinic. Julian had been behind her every step, his encouragements soft in her ear, his chest firm against her back. A little higher, Winnifred. I won't let you fall. He hadn't done any of the work for her. Only kept her safe as she climbed.
"I'm a bit nervous," Win admitted as Leo escorted her to the Hathaways' suite on the hotel's second floor.
"I'm not sure. Perhaps because we've all changed."
"The essential things haven't changed." Leo gripped her elbow firmly. "You're still the delightful girl you were. And I'm still a scoundrel with a taste for spirits and lightskirts."
"Leo," she said, darting a quick frown at him. "You're not planning to go back to your old ways, are you?"
"I will avoid temptation," he replied, "unless it happens to fall directly in my path." He stopped her at the middle landing. "Do you want to pause for a moment?"
"Not at all." Win continued enthusiastically upward. "I love stair climbing. I love doing anything I couldn't do before. And from now on I'm going to live by the motto 'Life is to be lived to the fullest.'"
Leo grinned. "You should know that I've said that on many occasions in the past, and it always got me in trouble."
Win glanced at her surroundings with pleasure. After living in the austere surroundings of Harrow 's clinic for so long, she would enjoy a taste of luxury.
Elegant, modern, and supremely comfortable, the Rutledge was owned by the mysterious Harry Rutledge, about whom there were so many rumors that no one could even say definitively whether he was British or American. All that was known for certain was that he had lived for a time in America and had come to England to create a hotel that combined the opulence of Europe with the best of American innovations.
The Rutledge was the first hotel to design every single bedroom en suite with its own private bathroom. And there were delights such as food service lifts, built-in cupboards in the bedrooms, private meeting rooms with atrium glass ceilings, and gardens designed as outdoor rooms. The hotel also featured a dining room that was said to be the most beautiful in England, with so many chandeliers that the ceiling had required extra reinforcements during construction.
They reached the door of the Hathaways' suite, and Leo knocked gently.
There were a few movements within. The door opened to reveal a young fair-haired maid. The maid's gaze swept over the both of them. "May I help you, sir?" she asked Leo.
"We've come to see Mr. and Mrs. Rohan."
"Beg pardon, sir, but they have just retired for the evening."
The hour was quite late, Win thought, deflated. "We should go our rooms and let them rest," she told Leo. "We'll come back in the morning."
Leo stared at the housemaid with a slight smile, and asked in a soft, low voice, "What is your name, child?"
Her brown eyes widened, and a blush crept up her cheeks. "Abigail, sir."
"Abigail," he repeated. "Tell Mrs. Rohan that her sister is here and wishes to see her."
"Yes, sir." The maid giggled and left them at the door.
Win gave her brother a wry glance as he helped to remove her cloak. "Your way with women never fails to astonish me."
"Most women have a tragic attraction to rakes," he said regretfully. "I really shouldn't use it against them."
Someone came into the receiving room. He saw Amelia's familiar form, clad in a blue dressing robe, accompanied by Cam Rohan, who was handsomely disheveled in an open-necked shirt and trousers.
Her blue eyes as round as saucers, Amelia stopped at the sight of her brother and sister. A white hand fluttered to Amelia's throat. "Is it really you?" she asked unsteadily.
Win tried to smile, but it was impossible when her lips were trembling with emotion. She tried to imagine how she must appear to Amelia, who had seen her last as a frail invalid. "I'm home," she said, a slight break in her voice.
"Oh, Win! I dreamed-I so hoped-" Amelia stopped and rushed forward, and their arms went around each other, fast and tight.
Win closed her eyes and sighed, feeling that at last she had come home. My sister. She basked in the soft comfort of Amelia's arms.