Mr. Somers thanked his daughter, and pulled a rolled column of yellowed parchment out from beneath his lapel. He cleared his throat, then turned to Bianca. “I found my original copy of the terms to Miss White’s dowry.”

“Which expired on my twenty-first birthday,” Bianca said bitterly.

“Not quite.” Mr. Somers unrolled the parchment and pointed at a line, three paragraphs down. “The dowry revokesafteryou’re twenty-one.”

Bianca frowned. “Isn’t that what I said?”

“Partially.” He read the passage aloud, slowly, his eyes shining. “You just had your twenty-first birthday, but you won’t turn twenty-two for another full year.”

She stared at him, her hand suddenly clammy in Harry’s. “You’re saying… ”

Mr. Somers beamed at her. “Congratulations, Miss White. You’re still an heiress.”

Bianca let out a whoop and threw her arms about Harry in victory.

He swirled her in a wide circle and pressed his lips to hers, kissing her with renewed passion.

“Oh dear,” said Doc, her voice loud and teasing. “This certainly seems like a compromising situation. I’m afraid with this many witnesses, you two shall be forced to marry.”

Without taking her lips from Harry’s, Bianca flung out the hand with the engagement ring.

“They’re already betrothed!” Tina squealed in rapture.

Joy, Goose, Doc, and Peavy cheered.

Rosie sneezed.

Miss Drowsy murmured something unintelligible, climbed onto the guest room bed, and fell asleep.

Bianca and Harry laughed, and kissed again, then danced the others around the room, banging into furniture and laughing in delight.

When the celebrations slowed, Mr. Somers handed Bianca the contract. “Do forgive my tardiness. I would have brought this to you faster, but my first stop was to Bow Street.”

Her breath caught. “Will the Runners take action against Lady Quinseley?”

“They already have. Bow Street Runners collected the countess from her home and have placed her in a holding cell to await trial.” His smile was fatherly. “She won’t be bothering you again, Miss White.”

“But you’ll botherherplenty,” added Goose, her twinkling eyes mischievous. “Once you become a marchioness, you won’t just have won—you’ll outrank her!”

“Lady Quinseley will hate that more than the prison cell,” Doc agreed with a chuckle. “It’ll eat her alive.”

“I’ll never have to worry about her again,” Bianca repeated in disbelief and joy.

“We have a much better future to look forward to.” Harry placed her fingers around his upper arm and raised his brows. “Shall we take a turn about Hyde Park and show off the new jewelry on your finger?”

“We’ll come with you,” Goose shouted. “We’re all invited to the wedding, right?”

“Of course,” Bianca said with a laugh. “As long as you promise to invite me to each of yours.”

Tina smiled at her bashfully. “It could happen sooner than you think.”

* * *

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Tags: Erica Ridley Historical
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