She was declared the victor.
Miranda was picking snow out of her husband’s collar—and wishing she’d joined Lady Turner’s initiative—when a second carriage topped the rise.
“I thought everyone was here,” she said.
“Did you?” Smite’s answer was a little too nonchalant. “Perhaps you’ve forgotten someone.”
Everyone else was waiting with avid interest. A cousin, perhaps? The duchess’s other brother?
As the carriage pulled around the drive, Smite found his way to her side. He slid his arm about her and then leaned down to whisper in her ear.
“I’ve owed you a wedding present all these weeks,” he said. “This is it.”
She had one moment to wonder what he could possibly mean when the door opened. It had been years since she last saw them, but she could never have forgotten. She started forward. “Jasper?”
The man who stepped out saw her, and a brilliant grin lit his face. She ran across the snow, skidding into his arms. Jonas was next out.
“Look at you,” Jas
per said. “You’re all grown.” He held her close, and then murmured into her hair, “You’d best tell us what the jig is quickly, so we don’t put the lie to anything you’ve said.”
“No lies,” Miranda retorted happily. “He knows everything.”
“And he invited us anyway?” Jonas came up behind them, enveloping her in a hug.
Smite was already coming forward. “Smite Turner.” He held out his hand. “It’s good to have the two of you here. Standish, I hear you’ve got a translation of Antigone. My brother Mark and I would love to hear what you’ve got.”
“Oh, no,” said Jonas. “I must hear this story first. Miranda, how in God’s name did you end up here?”
“Well,” Miranda said. “It’s a sweet tale, about kittens and puppies and rainbows and love.”
Smite gave her that low, private smile again, and she warmed even in the cold air and bit her lip.
“Especially love,” she said, linking her arm with Jonas’s. “Now shall we all go in?”