"Hello, and welcome back to the next segment of The Nearly-Wed game. I'm your host, Beau Brummell, and I thank you for staying with us into the next hour. Now, in case you missed last episode, I'm sorry to say that, while certainly quite entertaining, Miss Sinclair and Major Prestwood scored no points. Let us see, shall we, if our next couple isn't a little more simpatico...” His voice trails off. “Oh, my..."
Brummell's face loses a shade of color. He turns his head to look at the stage director and whispers, a little too loudly, "Is the name of this couple's story truly SWEET ENEMY?" The director frantically nods and waves his arms in a 'go-on, man!' gesture.
Liliana Claremont smiles. "Really, Mr. Brummell, there's no need to fret. Geoffrey and I aren't enemies any longer, are we?"
Geoffrey Wentworth, Earl of Stratford, chucks his affianced gently under the chin. "Far from it, love."
Brummell's brows dip into a disbelieving vee, but he gamely goes on. "Yes, well. May I introduce Miss Claremont, a brilliant lady chemist who--" Narrows his eyes at the paper he's reading from, then glances up at Liliana. "I say! Did you truly go undercover as a husband-hunter at the earl's house party?"
Liliana's cheeks pinken, but she maintains her straightforward gaze. "Why, yes. I traded in my beakers for ball gowns, but only to uncover whether Geoffrey's family had something to do with the murder of my father," she says, quite reasonably.
Brummell's eyes widen. "And did they?"
Geoffrey chuckles. "Now, Brummell. You don't really expect us to give away the entire story, do you?"
Beau clears his throat. "No, no, of course not." One perfectly trimmed eyebrow wings high. "But you're certain you're no longer enemies?"
Both Geoffrey and Liliana smile. "Quite sure," she answers for them both.
"Well, if you were watching from back stage, you understand how the game works. My lord, would you mind removing to the green parlor so I might ask Miss Claremont a question?"
Geoffrey gives a sharp nod before brushing a kiss on Liliana's temple. Then he straightens, turning on his heel in such a way that speaks of his years of military training and strides for the exit. Liliana's eyes follow him--
She jumps, snapping her attention back to the host. "Yes."
"Miss Claremont, if Stratford were to pick out a bouquet of flowers for you, what would he choose?"
A secret smile flits over Liliana's face and she drops her eyes to her vellum, hastily scribbling an answer.
Moments later, Geoffrey re-enters and Brummell poses the question to him.
A grin of masculine arrogance curves Stratford's lips. "Globe Thistle," he says confidently.
Liliana smiles an answering grin and flips her vellum. "Just so."
Brummell frowns. "But...isn't that a weed?"
Both Geoffrey and Liliana turn frowns upon him. "It's prickly," Liliana admits.
"But passionately purple," Geoffrey says. The two lovers look at each other a long moment, and it becomes clear to the entire audience that there is some private significance in Geoffrey's choice. "Besides, it's the precise color of Liliana's eyes."
"I...see," Brummell says, though he doesn't. "Yes, well, well done, you. You win the points. Now, Miss Claremont, if you please?"
Liliana leaves the room.
"My Lord, what would Miss Claremont say was the most romantic gesture you ever made towards her?"
Geoffrey debates a moment, then writes his answer. Liliana returns to the room and listens attentively to the question.
"Oh, my," she says, chewing her bottom lip with pearl white teeth. "I'm not certain. It could be the time he took me to the bog at the west side of his property and waded in to help me collect specimens...or, the fact that gave me a piece of expensive chemical glassware instead of a ring when he asked me to marry him...or, oh! I know. When he gave me his folly to use as my own private laboratory." She nods, but Geoffrey slowly shakes his head, his cobalt eyes turning rather heated. "No?"
Geoffrey slowly walks over to Liliana and flips his paper over, for her eyes only. Her pixie-like face quickly turns nearly as red as the glints of copper in her chestnut hair. "Geoffrey Alisdair Wentworth," she says sternly. "I'm quite certain this particular show is rated PG-13."
Beau tries to peak over Geoffrey's shoulder. The earl doesn't spare him a glance, having eyes only for Liliana, though he does crumple the vellum in his fist before the host can see the answer. "We forfeit this round, Brummell," Geoffrey says and takes Liliana by the hand. They hastily exit the stage, that secret smile they share pasted on both of their faces.
Brummell adjusts his cravat. "Well, there you have it. Please stay tuned for the next segment of our show after this short break... Now, if you have any questions for Miss Claremont or the Earl of Stratford, please do speak up. I'm certain...well," he cuts his eyes to where Geoffrey and Liliana were last seen, "I mean I expect they shall return to answer them at some point."
As the lights fade, Brummell can be heard grousing to the director. "Such behavior! This is the last time I agree to host a show with a bunch of love birds as contestants, I can tell you that."
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