Connie Brockway
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Bridal Season

The Bridal Season


Elliot's gaze sharpened. She had the figure and style that the American chap— Gibson, was it?— had recently made so popular, a figure revealed distinctly by a form- fitting lace dress that flowed like a second skin over her extraordinary form.

Apparently she'd not heard Eglantyne for she did not acknowledge the older woman's greeting but instead looked behind, pivoted, and bent sharply at the waist, displaying to all of Little Bidewell a lushly curved bottom in a most provocative manner. Several men caught their breath. Elliot could have sworn he heard another mutter a prayer.

"Yoo-hoo, Lady Agatha!"

Lady Agatha, still bent over, looked round. The broad brim of the ridiculous hat shadowed most of her face but Elliot could make out a decisive chin, angular jaw and unexpectedly large mouth. He also saw that she was younger than Eglantyne had led them to expect. Much younger. His gaze narrowed. He'd made some discreet inquiries about Lady Agatha Whyte as soon as Eglantyne had told him of her plan to employ the supposed duke's daughter. He'd discovered that Lady Agatha Whyte of Whtye's Wedding Celebrations really was the impecunious Duke of Lallie's eldest child and that she really did work for a living. But he'd somehow formed the idea that she was in her thirties.

Lady Agatha straightened, scooping up a small, disreputable looking black dog that had been hidden by her skirts. She stepped down onto the platform. The sunlight hit her full in the face, revealing a strong individual. Her best feature was her eyes, being a deep, rich brown color. Not a spectacular beauty, by any means, but her looks were interesting, catching one's attention.

"I'm sorry," she said in a husky voice. "I'm afraid I didn't realize you were addressing me. I am—"

"No need to apology, my dear lady," Eglantyne interrupted in her enthusiasm. "Drat hard to hear over the train engine, isn't it?"

"Indeed. But you see I am not—"

Whatever Lady Agatha 'was not' was lost in the sudden bawl of the train whistle.

"We are so glad you are here. I admit, we were a bit worried what with the train being late and all. But no worries now, eh? Everything is just fine now that you are here!" Eglantyne bellowed, blushing when the whistle abruptly quit and she was still shouting. She cleared her throat. "Your things arrived a few days ago."

Lady Agatha, in the act of redistributing the weight of her dog, stilled. "My things?"

"Yes," Angela said, finding her voice. "All sorts of fascinating trunks and boxes and things."

"Really?" Lady Agatha said.

"Not that we pried!" Eglantyne quickly assured their guest. "We just saw them passing up the stairs, you know."

They waited, Eglantyne with a sheepish smile, and poor Angela looking as though she wished the world would open up and swallow her whole.

"Elliot, a word if I might," Jim Beacon addressed him. Elliot began to turn toward the doctor and then…

And then Lady Agatha smiled.

Elliot forgot Jim Beacon. He forgot where he stood. He simply stood staring at her because when she smiled everything changed. She changed. And he had the oddest feeling that he did, too.