“Mister Turner, good evening sir,” she said haughtily, giving Archie a half curtsy.
He bowed low in return. He was a Marquis’ son, but he was a second son and she was a daughter of a duke. Both unmarried, she outranked him.
“I never leave London, it is true, but I would have loved to visit Annabelle.” She repeated, daring him to contradict her again.
Archie would usually have ignored any attempt of hers to bait him, yet tonight she was succeeding without barely trying.
“How can you say that you would have loved to venture to Scotland when you never even visit Hampshire in the off season?” he asked with a raised eye brow.
“That’s only because...” Victoria began to explain until John cleared his throat, stopping her mid sentence.
Victoria sighed loudly, what could she say? Her father took his long time mistress to their country estate every off Season and her mother and Victoria stayed in London. It was common enough knowledge that he had a mistress but no one knew just how much time their father spent with her. How could she tell Archie why she couldn’t leave London if John didn’t want them to know?
“You are right Mr. Turner, how remiss of me to forget how shallow I am.”
Annabelle gasped but Victoria ignored her, focusing instead on Archie. Although most of the time she hated him, the other small part of her loved their exchanges. No one saw her as more than a wealthy Duke’s daughter, to be caught for marriage and used for her hostess skills and to provide an heir. Those wanting to marry her included false flattery and flummery in their way of talking to her, Archie never did either. Even if he did only see her flaws she liked how he treated her as a person, not as the rich daughter of a Duke.
“Not shallow Lady Dunford, simply focused on London.” Archie replied, injecting humor into his voice.
Victoria ignored the tone. She got some perverse pleasure out of sparring with Archie in public and she wouldn’t be backing down.
“Oh, self centered now? Even better.” She snorted inelegantly and flushed slightly in response.
Archie just smiled at her as though he was agreeing. That annoyed her even more than a cutting reply.
Victoria opened her mouth for a blistering rejoinder when Annabelle interrupted.“How is your brother Archie?” Annabelle asked, linking her arm with Victoria’s.