The great soprano Mrs Roberta Brookes is to perform tomorrow at the Theatre Royal in Brighton where, Dear Reader, for just one performance, she will reprise the role of Queen of the Night…
Whispers from Behind the Fan
To say the morning had been chaotic was an understatement, and Lily was relieved when she finally herded the youngest Brookes daughter Charity away from the dressing table mirror and down the stairs to her ranting father below.
“Why say ten minutes when you mean half an hour, daughter?” Mr Brookes had been impatiently pacing the hallway for every one of those thirty minutes.
“Because Charity’s relationship with time is a casual one.” Miss Hope rolled her eyes at Lily. “And the state of her hair is clearly more important than the state of your nerves, papa.”
Unrepentant, Charity shrugged into the coat Mrs Tusk was holding out. “It is hardly my fault that I was last to be attended to. The reason nobody ever moans about the time it takes for mama, Faith or Hope to get ready is because they always seem to take priority.”
“Only because we manage to get out of bed when we are woken, isn’t that right, Lily?” Hope loved to stir the pot.
“Don’t involve me in this.” One of the things she enjoyed most about working for the Brookes family was she never had to worry about talking out of turn. “You know I’ll never take sides.” Just as they all knew that Charity would always be late, even if, by some miracle, Lily did get her to rise on time.
“Will you all make haste!” Mrs Brookes bustled in, hands on hips. “For once, the sky is blessedly clear of clouds and I should like to get on the road to Brighton before the heavens inevitable open again! You know I hate travelling in the rain. I hate it even more since our carriage had that A-C-C-I-D-E-N-T.” One of her most endearing quirks was she spelled out any word she found distasteful.
“Perhaps I should wear my blue pelisse?”
Mr Brookes practically snarled at Miss Charity’s suggestion and promptly grabbed her by the arm and frogmarched her into the carriage where Faith was already waiting, and knowing the eldest, had been for the entire half an hour. He helped all the ladies in, then held Lily’s hand as she climbed up on the perch next to Evan.
In the weeks since the night of the A-C-C-I-D-E-N-T in question, the frosty atmosphere had thawed between them and in a strange sort of way, even though she still wouldn’t trust the shameless flirt as far as she could throw him, they were becoming friends.
He grinned at her as he automatically offered her half of his blanket because neither of them had ever been to Brighton before. “Ready, Lily?”
She nodded happily, trying not to notice the way her pulse quickened as his thigh briefly touched hers.
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