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“It wasn’t deliberate.”

“I know. I’ve been watching you watching me all night. My presence here is irritating you like a sore tooth, isn’t it? Do you want me to leave?”

“What makes you think—” she began, intending to deny his statement but he held up a hand to forestall her. She fell silent.

“You don’t have to admit or deny anything. Let me make it easier for you. You need time to deal with all this. So do I. Let us both assume that if you ask me to leave it does not mean you admit or deny any possible implications that arise from such a request. So. Shall I leave? Yes or no?”

She wanted to say ‘Yes!’ forcefully and eject him from the house. Then she wouldn’t have to keep tracing his movements through the room so her gaze would not come upon him suddenly and she wouldn’t be surprised into revealing anything by voice or expression or preoccupation. But if he left she would lose the one person here tonight who knew what was churning away inside her. She needed that moral support—no matter how silent and unspoken it may be and regardless of the fact that he was the cause of it all. She hovered, undecided, trying to read his mind through his eloquent eyes.

“If you left, what would Hugh think?”

David shrugged. “I’ll make up an excuse.”

She bit her lip.

“Don’t worry—it will be quite convincing. He’ll believe me.”

“You’ve had practice lying, then?”

“The trick to lying is to tell as much of the truth as possible and avoid details from that point on.” He shook his head. “Don’t worry about it, Anastasia. If you would prefer I not be here, I’ll go. I’m asking you because you’re the one who doesn’t seem to be handling this too well.”

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