What Happens in London

Free What Happens in London by Julia Quinn

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Authors: Julia Quinn
Office was always dropping off some document or another, and the translations were always needed with all possible haste. And if by some miracle he managed to clear his desk of work, that was when Edward decided to get himself in a bloody heap of trouble—debts, drunkenness, unsuitable women—Edward was not picky about his vices, and Harry could not summon enough heartlessness to let his brother wallow in his own mistakes.
    Which meant that Harry rarely had time to make mistakes of his own—mistakes of the female persuasion, that was. Harry was not in the habit of living like a monk, but really, how long had it been…?
    Having never been in love, he had no idea if absence made the heart grow fonder, but after tonight, he was quite certain that abstinence made the rest of a man rather surly indeed.
    He needed to find Sebastian. His cousin’s social agenda was never limited to one event per evening. Wherever he was going after this, it would surely include women of questionable morals. And Harry was going with him.
    Harry headed toward the far side of the room, intending to find something to drink, but as he stepped forth, he heard about half a dozen gasps, followed by, “This wasn’t on the program!”
    Harry glanced this way and that, then followed the general direction of stares toward the stage. One of the Smythe-Smith girls had retaken her position and appeared to be preparing an impromptu (but please, God, not improvised) solo.
    “Sweet merciful Jesus,” Harry heard, and there was Sebastian, standing next to him, regarding the stage with something that was definitely more dread than amusement.
    “You owe me,” Harry said, murmuring the words malevolently in Sebastian’s ear.
    “I thought you’d stopped counting.”
    “This is a debt that can never be repaid.”
    The girl started her solo.
    “You may be right,” Sebastian admitted.
    Harry looked at the door. It was a lovely door, perfectly proportioned and leading out of the room. “Can we leave?”
    “Not yet,” Sebastian said ruefully. “My grandmother.”
    Harry looked over at the elderly Countess of Newbury, who sat with the other dowagers, smiling broadly and clapping her hands. He turned back to Sebastian, remembering. “Isn’t she deaf?”
    “Nearly so,” Sebastian confirmed. “But not stupid. You’ll notice she put her cone away for the performance.” He turned to Harry with a gleam in his eye. “By the by, I saw you made the acquaintance of the lovely Lady Olivia Bevelstoke.”
    Harry didn’t bother to respond, at least not with anything more than a slight tilt of his head.
    Sebastian leaned toward him, his voice dropping into annoying registers. “Did she admit to everything? Her insatiable curiosity? Her overwhelming lust for you?”
    Harry turned and regarded him squarely. “You’re an ass.”
    “You tell me that a lot.”
    “It never grows old.”
    “And neither do I,” Sebastian said with a half smile. “I find it so convenient to be immature.”
    The violin solo reached what seemed to be a crescendo, and the crowd held a collective breath, waiting for the ensuing flourish, followed by what had to be the finish.
    Except it wasn’t.
    “That was cruel,” Sebastian said.
    Harry winced as the violin scraped into a higher octave. “I didn’t see your uncle,” he pointed out.
    Sebastian’s lips tightened, and tiny white lines formed at the corners of his mouth. “He sent his regrets just this afternoon. It almost makes me wonder if he set me up. Except he’s just not that clever.”
    “Did you know?”
    “About the music?”
    “It’s a brutal use of the word.”
    “I’d heard rumors,” Sebastian admitted. “But nothing could have prepared me for…”
    “This?” Harry murmured, somehow unable to take his eyes off the girl on the stage. She held her violin lovingly, and her absorption in the music was unfeigned. She looked as if she was enjoying herself, as if she were hearing something quite different than

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