The Legend of Lyon Redmond

By: Julie Anne Long

Only Olivia and Lyon knew the truth.

Her brothers wanted, above all, for her to be happy.

They liked Landsdowne very much, and she wished they wouldn’t tread so gingerly about him, as if they were afraid he would vanish if they made any sudden moves. For God’s sake, she honestly did intend to marry the man.

They had married the women they loved.

“They weren’t in when I stopped at your town house,” Landsdowne mused. “It must be a fortunate coincidence.”

She wondered just how “fortunate” it might be.

“Well! Good afternoon, Olivia, Landsdowne!” Ian enthused, when they moved forward to meet them. “What a lovely coincidence.”

“Is it?” Olivia said suspiciously.

Hats came off and bows were exchanged.

“Fine weather we’re having.” This came from Ian.

Colin was standing unusually still and he was uncharacteristically silent. Rather, in fact, like a sentry.

“I suppose,” she said, still suspiciously.

“Have you a complaint about it, sister dear?”

“Ian, may I point something out to you?”

“Since when have you ever asked permission to point something out to me, Olivia? Would it be to impress your husband-to-be?”

“Her husband-to-be is already thoroughly impressed,” Landsdowne said with charming loyalty.

“I don’t think we’ve ever exchanged banalities about the weather in our entire lives,” Olivia said calmly. “Nor have you ever called me ‘sister dear.’”

She locked eyes with Ian for a challenging moment.

“Then I have been remiss, for you are a dear sister, and I should tell you so more often,” he said smoothly. “We were just inside, and it’s an uninspiring lot of prints in there today, wouldn’t you say, Colin?”

“Uninspiring,” Colin parroted. “Why don’t the four of us stop in at Twining’s for something hot?”

Her brothers were offering to drink tea with her?

“We’d like to take our tea in Ackermann’s tearoom,” she said firmly, and she looped her arm in Landsdowne’s and feinted to the right.

In tandem, her brothers gracefully, ever so subtly shifted to the right and blocked her.

“How were the fittings at Madame Marceau’s?” Ian tried. “I’m sure your dress is beautiful.”

This made her snort in derision. The day Ian was interested in her dress fittings was the day he’d wear a dress.

She tried a quick slide to the left, startling Landsdowne, who came along with her just in time.

Her brothers, neatly and in tandem, subtly shifted at the same time.

“Care to share what might be the trouble, gentlemen?” Lansdowne asked, with deceptive mildness.

Which she was beginning to realize was his way of disguising temper.

Her brothers exchanged a glance. Some silent brotherly conversation took place during that glance.

“Olivia.” And then Colin said very, very slowly, as though willing her to understand something, “I genuinely think you don’t want to go in today.”

It was a tactical mistake. This was Olivia, after all. Telling her what not to do was tantamount to inviting her to do it.

Colin realized this too late. Her brothers, after exchanging another rather fatalistic glance, stepped aside with grim resignation.

She all but burst inside.

Then paused as she took in the space with a swift, sweeping glance.

Nothing was out of the ordinary. Everything seemed splendidly as it should be. She inhaled deeply. Ah, but she loved Ackermann’s the way she loved Tingle’s Bookshop—for the gentle rustling of fine paper, the pungent scent of fine paper and ink. It was cheerful and airy and brilliantly illuminated by a band of large high windows that poured flattering light down on all the art and art lovers alike.

Her brothers remained silent.

She shot them a triumphant glance.

She gravitated to a wall where a new, dazzlingly colorful print hung in a place of honor.

“Oh, I believe it’s meant to be Le Chat.” Olivia said this to Landsdowne, who was trailing her protectively and planted himself at her side. “Funny, but I was just discussing him with my modiste.”

They paused to admire it.

The infamous pirate was standing triumphantly on the deck of a ship, one booted foot on the chest of a man who appeared to be weeping with fear. His hair waved like a black flag in an apparent breeze, and his penetrating blue gaze was apparent even through his black mask. He was holding a sword to his victim’s throat with his left hand. These were the only three things the whole of Europe could agree about with regards to Le Chat: that he had blue eyes (“the very color of evil!” one survivor had declared, which had always struck Olivia as funny, as her own were blue), so vivid they could even be seen in the dark, which was the only time Le Chat attacked; that he spoke like a gentleman when he spoke at all; and that he was left-handed. Or at least used his left hand when he wielded a sword. One merchant claimed to have shot him, but since Le Chat had gone on to attack again, he clearly hadn’t managed to kill him.

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