The Songbird's Seduction

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Authors: Connie Brockway
It had worked out as smoothly as clockwork but there hadn’t been a moment when they’d been alone so that he could propose.
    In fact, now that he thought of it, he realized Lionel still had the ring. He supposed it was as well. Lionel never lost things. Dependable as a rock, old Lionel.
    “Thank God for that.”
    “But I will.”
    “Do you think that wise, m’lad? I don’t think you have any idea of what life with Miss Litchfield will be like. You have always been utterly oblivious where females are concerned. I blame my daughter.”
    “That was hardly her fault.”
    His grandfather ignored him. “She was not a natural mother. Sending you and your brothers off to school so young. Did you even know what a girl was before you were ten?”
    “There were a few references in books.”
    “You make light of it, but it’s true. You are absolutely a babe in the woods where women are concerned. Especially a woman like Miss Litchfield.” He shook his head.
    “I know you think her a tad dry—”
    “A tad?”
    “Cornelia has more in her head than the pursuit of pleasure.” Unlike that strange girl at the Savoy. She had all the earmarks of a—what did the students call them? Oh, yes, a crackerjack.
    “There’s an understatement,” his lordship said. “I dare-say Miss Litchfield has never taken a step in pleasure’s direction, let alone actively pursued it.”
    Ptolemy blew out a deep breath. “Grandfather . . .”
    His grandfather forestalled him. “I have nothing against Miss Litchfield other than that she is a managing sort of woman. The sort who inspires laziness in a man.”
    “Laziness?”
    “Yes. You’ve always been a little obsessive when it came to your work, my lad. You can’t deny it. It has made you—and yes, I know this is harsh, but it is said with affection—neglect other areas of life. Miss Litchfield has encouraged this neglect. Perhaps fostered the mistaken belief that nothing else matters aside from . . . What is it that you do?”
    “I am an anthropologist. A cultural—”
    “Yes. Well, other things
do
matter.”
    Ptolemy gave this a fair consideration. He did tend to become a tad obsessive about things he found fascinating, but he’d never found anything nearly as fascinating as people and cultures.
    “Are you in love with her?”
    His grandfather’s abrupt question caught him off guard. “I . . . I . . . Of course. Yes.”
    His grandfather steepled his hands together and peered at him over the tips of his fingers. “I believe, Ptolemy, I
truly
believe, that the men in our family only love once. So choose your mate wisely, my boy.”
    He shifted uneasily. Cornelia expected him to ask for her hand in marriage. At least, he assumed she did. It was a natural progression in a relationship between an unmarried man and woman after a number of years, and he had given her no reason to expect otherwise.
    “We’ll make a brilliant team,” he said. “She has only my best interests at heart and she’ll help me achieve . . . er, those things that I want to achieve.”
    “Wonderful,” his grandfather said. “Why don’t you hire her rather than propose to her?”
    “Grandfather.”
    “You sound like you’re choosing a teammate, not a bedmate.”
    “Grandfather.”
    “Fine.” He held up his hand. “I shan’t say another word. Today. I’m sorry. I really won’t. I mean if you want to marry a woman who—no, no, no! Sit back down. I promise. Don’t leave. Tell me how you got that bruise?”
    He’d forgotten about it. “Some college boy reeking of bay rum thought I was importuning a young lady at the bar.”
    “What were you doing in the bar? I didn’t think you drank.”
    “Of course I do. I just don’t overindulge.”
    “God, that you would.”
    “What’s that?”
    “Nothing. And what did Miss Litchfield think of you importuning this young lady?”
    “Oh, for—I
didn’t
importune her. I don’t even know the girl.”
    Once again, his grandfather’s brows

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