Gentlemen Prefer Spinsters(2)

By: Samantha Holt

Sophia put a hand to her mouth. “Goodness. And everyone else’s marriages?”

“There isn’t a single happy one between them. My cousin Geoffrey does not even see his wife. He spends his time in Scotland while she lives in Europe for the most part. And my cousins’ parents are no better.” She lifted her hands. “For some reason, we are all terrible at marriage.”

“Well, I am certain Daniel will be different,” Sophia declared. “He’s a fine man and will treat Isabel beautifully.”

Merry could not disagree there. It had been clear since his engagement to her that he adored her endlessly and they made a wonderful couple. However, that niggling thought would not leave her. She could not bear it if her brother ended up miserable in his marriage.

So, it was best she move out of the main house and into the dower house that had not been used since her great-grandma’s time. She had yet to even step foot in the place, so goodness knows what state it was in.

“Anyway, once Daniel sends word he is on his way home from his honeymoon, I shall make preparations to move into the house.” Merry glanced at the bookcase behind Sophia. She didn’t think there would be too much to do, just a little dusting and moving around of furniture, but she would need to take her books.

“Will you not get lonely, Merry?” Arabella took another slice of shortbread, eyeing it with annoyance before taking a bite.

“Why would I? Are you all going to abandon me as soon as I move in?” Merry teased.

“It does seem like a bit of a spinster aunt thing to do,” Sophia said cautiously.

“Well, I am not yet an aunt, but truthfully, I am looking forward to the solitude. I can work on my translation in peace then.” Merry gave her friends a reassuring smile.

In many ways, Daniel marrying had given her the perfect excuse to leave the big house. Even though most of the time it was just her and Daniel, the house was a constant bustle of people. If tenants were not visiting, then servants were sweeping through or friends were visiting her brother. She needed complete solitude to concentrate on her translation, and the dower house would provide that.

“People are going to think you are awfully strange,” Arabella cautioned.

“Do people not already think I am strange? Do they not think that of all of us?” Merry asked.

Sophia nodded, and Arabella gave a defeated shrug. Since their younger years, they had all been known as wallflowers. Their friendship group had formed out of necessity when it had become apparent that all of them were terrible at the things which young ladies should be excellent—none of them were particularly refined or accomplished in the traditional manner, and they all loathed balls and polite conversation.

Merry was no stranger to gossip, having overheard many a conversation about what a shame it was that the daughter of the viscount was not prettier or more sociable or more inclined to dancing with eligible gentleman. Her propensity for tucking herself away with books had never been looked upon favorably by others.


The door to the drawing room burst open. A flurry of skirts and red hair paused in front of them. The footman barreled in after her, looking disconcerted. “Uh, Miss Arabella Ryder to see you, my lady.”

“Thank you, Hughes.” Merry dismissed the footman and eyed her friend who was currently bent double, sucking in breaths of air.

Though she shared the same name as Arabella, this Arabella could not be more different. While the seated Arabella tended to act with caution, Merry doubted this Arabella had ever acted with caution in her entire life. When they had all first met, she and Sophia used to tease the Arabellas, calling them one and two but had tired of that quickly, so now Arabella Two was known as Bella.

Bella sucked in a breath. “Have you heard the news?” She straightened. “Goodness, I sprinted all the way here and nearly knocked into Mr. Gainsborough and tripped over a sheep.”

Sophia giggled. “Poor sheep.”

Bella shot her a glare. “Poor me, I nearly died trying to jump over him.”

“Sit down, Bella,” Arabella ordered. “You look as though you are going to pass out any moment.”

Bella pressed a hand to her stomach and drew in another long breath. “Have you heard the news?”