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    “You have been,” Evie told her. “Come with us—we’re going to have a wallflower meeting.”

    “Now?” Daisy asked bemusedly, glancing at her friends’ animated countenances. “We can’t. They’ll be waiting for us at breakfast.”

    “Oh, let them wait,” Lillian said cheerfully. She took Daisy’s arm and pulled her out of the main entrance hall.

    As the four young women proceeded to a hallway leading toward the morning room, they encountered Lord St. Vincent, who was strolling in the opposite direction. Elegant and dazzling in his formal clothes, he paused and regarded Evie with a caressing smile.

    “You appear to be escaping from something,” he remarked.

    “We are,” Evie told her husband.

    St. Vincent slid his arm around Evie’s waist and asked in a conspiratorial whisper, “Where are you going?”

    Evie thought for a moment. “Somewhere to powder Daisy’s nose.”

    The viscount gave Daisy a dubious glance. “It takes all four of you? But it’s such a little nose.”

    “We’ll only be a few minutes, my lord,” Evie said. “Will you make excuses for us?”

    St. Vincent laughed gently. “I have an endless supply, my love,” he assured her. Before he let go of his wife, he turned her to face him and kissed her forehead. For the briefest of moments, his graceful hand touched low on her midriff. The subtle gesture went unnoticed by the others.

    But Daisy saw, and she knew at once what it meant. Evie has a secret, she thought, and smiled.

    They took Daisy to the orangery, where warm autumn light glittered through the windows, and the scents of citrus and bay hung thick in the air. Removing Daisy’s heavy orange-blossom wreath and veil, Lillian set them aside on a chair.

    There was a silver tray on a nearby table, laden with a bottle of chilled champagne and four tall crystal glasses.

    “This is a special toast for you, dear,” Lillian said, while Annabelle poured the sparkling liquid and handed the glasses out. “To your happy ending. Since you’ve had to wait for it longer than the rest of us, I’d say you deserve the entire bottle.” She grinned. “But we’re going to share it with you anyway.”

    Daisy curved her fingers around the crystal stem. “It should be a toast for all of us,” she said. “After all, three years ago we had the worst marriage prospects imaginable. We couldn’t even get an invitation to dance. And look how well things turned out.”

    “All it t-took was some devious behavior and a few scandals here and there,” Evie said with a smile.

    “And friendship,” Annabelle added.

    “To friendship,” Lillian said, her voice suddenly husky.

    And their four glasses clicked in one perfect moment.


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