Page 53 of The Husband Season

 He wondered if Sophie knew about that. ‘When did you last see Mr Cavenhurst?’

 ‘Two days ago.’

 * * *

 Adam spent the rest of the day in the search, but as no one who knew the young man had seen him, he concluded that Captain Moore had been right and he had gone home to Hadlea to lick his wounds.

 He went back to Mount Street to tell the ladies of his failure. They were dressed for an evening at the opera. ‘Perhaps he has gone home to Hadlea,’ he said.

 ‘He would not do that without telling us,’ Sophie said. ‘Besides, he told me he daren’t tell Papa about...about...’ Her voice tailed off.


 ‘Has he friends in London with whom he might stay?’

 ‘I can only think of Sir Reginald and Mr Fanshawe.’

 ‘I asked them. They haven’t seen him.’

 ‘You told them he was missing?’

 ‘I told them I was looking for him and he was not at home. They did not appear to attach any significance to it.’

 ‘I think we should go to the opera as planned,’ Lady Cartrose said. ‘We cannot let the ton know there is anything amiss. We shall say he has been detained on business for his father. Besides, he knows we are going and may very well come to us there.’ She turned to Adam. ‘Do you go, my lord?’

 ‘No, I shall continue the search. I have not exhausted all avenues yet. I will come to you tomorrow.’ He had quite forgotten he had planned to leave London the next day.

                       Chapter Eight

 Teddy’s disappearance was so much on her mind that Sophie could not pay attention to the opera. When the interval came, their box was invaded by Reggie and Richard, followed soon afterwards by Lord Gorange, all vying for her favour, but she could not give her attention to any of them. And when Lord and Lady Martindale also arrived with Lucy, she felt she wanted to scream and run away.

 ‘Where is your brother?’ Lucy asked her. ‘I felt sure he would be here tonight and join us for supper afterwards. He promised to speak to Papa.’

 ‘Some business cropped up he had to deal with,’ Sophie said. ‘Perhaps he will join us later.’

 ‘Did he tell you...?’

 ‘That he had proposed, yes, he did.’

 ‘I am so happy. I did not need to come to London to find the man of my dreams, did I?’

 ‘So it would seem. I felicitate you.’ She tried to sound sincere and in any other circumstances she would have been pleased for them both, but at that moment all she could think of was that her brother had disappeared and very soon Lucy would have to be told.

 ‘What about you, Sophie?’ Lucy queried in a whisper. ‘Will you accept Sir Reginald or Mr Fanshawe? I cannot think you will entertain Lord Gorange, even though he is the richest.’

 ‘Is he? I didn’t know that.’

 ‘So Papa says.’

 They were interrupted by the arrival of Mrs Malthouse and Cassandra and the box became very crowded. The Martindales took their leave and returned to their own seats to make room for the newcomers.

 Cassie dragged Sophie into a corner. ‘What have you done with Viscount Kimberley?’ she demanded.

 ‘Done with him, Cassie? Whatever do you mean?’

 ‘You are scheming to take him away from me. You said you had no interest in him and yet you go riding with him for all the world to see. And without a chaperon. It isn’t fair, Sophie.’

 Sophie did not see why she should justify herself, but Cassie was obviously furious. ‘He wanted my opinion about a horse he was thinking of buying.’

 Cassie laughed harshly. ‘What do you know about horses that he does not?’

 ‘Nothing, but he wanted to know if I thought it would suit a lady.’

 ‘What lady?’

 ‘He didn’t say.’

 ‘Oh.’

 Sophie watched her friend digesting this information and saw her expression change from anger and jealousy to bright expectation. She could only hope that his lordship really did intend the mare for Cassie, otherwise there would be tears. ‘What was the horse like?’

 ‘A beautiful brown mare. I envy the lady.’

 ‘Not you?’

 ‘Of course not me. Cassie, I have told you...’

 ‘I know. I’m sorry I doubted you. We are still friends, are we not?’

 ‘Of course.’

 ‘Where is the viscount tonight?’

 ‘I have no idea. Were you expecting to see him?’

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