Caroline re-folds a letter from her sister-in-law and smiles to herself. Everything has turned out exactly as she’d planned.
“Are you going to voluntarily tell me the reason for that sly expression, or am I going to have to pry it out of you?” Katherine asks from the threshold.
Caroline grins in response. “An expression you’ve been known to sport quite often, Kat.”
Katherine shrugs and steps into the Staveley’s white parlor. “Indeed. But what has you smirking like that today?”
Caroline’s grin grows even wider as she makes room for the duchess to sit beside her on the settee. “Vindication. No matter how much my brothers complain about my ability to manage them, they both have me to thank for their current states of happiness.”
“I could say the same thing.” Katherine settles in beside Caroline, an equally sly expression now etched across her lovely face. “I’ve got a story or two about brothers of my own.”
“Of course you do. What feat, in regards to your brothers are you the most proud?” Caroline asks.
“Oh, that’s an easy one. Benjamin and Phoebe, of course. It was easy enough getting them to the altar, but they nearly sabotaged their marriage! If I had not stepped in, Lord only knows where they’d be by now.” Katherine turns to Caroline. “Your turn. Which couple was your greatest success?”
Caroline taps her chin and scrunches up her nose. “That’s so difficult to say, Kat. On one hand, Luke with his foolish male-ness would have lost Juliet forever, if not for me; but I think bringing Robert and Lydia together was my greatest accomplishment. Robert is so stubborn and set in his ways. Domineering, really. His mind had been firmly made up about his wife, and it still would be if I hadn’t intervened. Now several children later, he hardly resembles his former self. It’s so rewarding to know how happy he’s become.” Her hazel eyes twinkle mischievously. “I think we have to do what we do, Kat. Manage others, I mean. No matter how dangerous a situation gets. Where would our friends and family be without us?”
Katherine sits forward in her seat, clearly getting excited about the topic. “Oh, I couldn’t agree more! Why, to think of the hoops I had to jump through for cousin Victoria. Goodness, it gives me the vapors just to think of that situation. Foolish girl! Now if we could only bring her brother, Thomas up to snuff! Of course, the way I’ve seen him carousing about Town tells me he’s not thinking of settling down anytime soon. Perhaps Victoria and I can team up to change that. But tell me, Caroline, what–or rather who– will your next project be?”
“Oh, darling!” Caroline clutches Kat’s hand. “There are just so many people in Town who need a happy ever after, don’t you agree?”
Katherine nods whole-heartedly. “Indeed.”
“Hmm.” Caroline continues. “Lord Carraway would be high on my list of those to help next, as would that poor, brooding Lord Avery. Although, I think his sister, Cordelia Clayworth, might have something up her sleeve for that particular fellow.” Her hazel eyes suddenly start flashing with indignation. “But I can tell you who won’t be getting any help from me. The Marquess of Haversham can go hang, for all I care. That man makes your average rake look like a well-behaved saint!” She heaves a sigh and shakes her head as though to shake an unpleasant thought from her head. “Enough about him. What about you, Kat? Who will you focus your efforts on next?”
Jerrica pipes up, Ava by her side. “Ladies, I’m afraid we must ask you to stop right there.”
Both Katherine and a Caroline turn to them, confused looks upon their faces.
“But why?” Caroline asks.
“We can’t have you giving away any secrets now, can we?” Ava explains. “You’ll ruin things for our readers.”
Katherine shrugs. “She does have a point, Caro. But that doesn’t mean we can’t wait until they leave to continue planning our machinations.”
“Oh!” Caroline leaps from her seat and rushes to where Jerrica and Ava are standing. “Well, thank you for stopping by, ladies,” she says as she ushers them out the door.
They try to protest, but it’s no use. They are no match for Caroline’s desire to plan her next matchmaking adventure.