For the next week, Lily did her best to avoid him. Annoyed at herself for falling for his charm in the first place, but more annoyed that she had doubted her instincts and almost—almost—apologised to him for reprimanding him so vociferously over that kiss. And there she had been, feeling guilty for chastising him when she hadn’t done anything to stop him kissing her that night when she easily could have. Thank goodness she had witnessed the full extent of his philandering ways with her own eyes beforehand. Now she knew for certain that Evan was a shameless scoundrel, and one worse than the duplicitous George if he could blithely move on to kissing the next girl not a day from the last. And the wretch had made no attempt to explain himself or apologise. He knew she had seen him and didn’t care.
But there was no avoiding him tonight. With the whole family watching Mrs Brookes’s final performance in The Magic Flute before they all headed to the Renshaw Ball straight afterwards, Lily had no choice but to ride up on the perch with him on the short journey from Covent Garden to Berkeley Square.
She took a deep breath, steeled her shoulders and flung open the back door of the theatre. As usual, he was waiting outside. All cocky and arrogant and handsome as sin.
“They’ll be two minutes.” She thrust the heavy bag at him before hoisting herself up onto the footplate and burrowed into her coat. Leaving him to deal with the family as they all tumbled out.
Once he had stuffed all five of them plus their mountain of belongings into the tight confines of the coach, he climbed up next to her, then made a great show of arranging the blanket around himself.
“Do you want to share?”
“I’d rather freeze.”
He had the gall to laugh. “Suit yourself.”
They sat in frigid silence all the way. Him all cosy watching the road and her stiff with the cold and staring off to the side, making ten minutes feel like ten long years. It was so excruciating, she practically threw herself off the seat the second they pulled up in Mayfair, then gratefully climbed inside once the family were gone.
Evan, of course, found that amusing and took his own sweet time rearranging himself to be comfortable again before the carriage lurched forward to take her home. She was grateful he took the direct route this time, so the pain would swiftly end. But as they turned into Southampton Row, a mere minute from the sanctuary of Bedford Place, fate decided it had other ideas and all hell broke loose.
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