Countess Du’Breven sat at her writing desk in the blue sitting room of her London house, finishing the invitations to her house party. An amused smile danced on her mouth, smoothing the wrinkles there, as she looked over her guest list. With only a few exceptions, she had no doubt her invitations would be accepted promptly, because who could refuse the chance to spend two weeks at Somerstone Manor? And with the few who might send a polite refusal, she had ways to convince them.
Her beloved husband had been gone twenty years now. Loving and being loved by such a man had brought her great happiness, but Society held love in low-esteem. Well, nothing would bring her greater joy in her lonely years than to help others find a love like she had. Throughout the season, she had watched and plotted, and now she just needed to throw the right people together. Even if not all her plans were successful, she was going to have a grand time stirring people up.
After sealing the last gilt-edged invitation with crimson wax and her official stamp, she took the stack in hand and went out into the hall. Her pug, Wellington, yipped and scurried after, trotting ahead and panting at the door until she opened it.
A tall and sinfully handsome footman stood on duty at the door. The Countess strode up to him. “Damen, here are the last of my invitations. Please ensure their safe delivery.”
Damen took the stack, his eyes studying the name on the first one. His eyebrows went up, and he said, “Playing deep are you, my lady?”
The Countess smiled. “Always. Now, no more of your impudence, my boy. I expect a proper decorum from my staff, especially when I’m hosting guests at the family seat.”
“Yes, my lady. You won’t be disappointed.”
The Countess smiled. “You may be assured of that.”