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He set the spyglass down, laying it in its place with surprising gentleness. For a moment he simply touched it, his face contemplative, before his hands slid away.
“Have you never seen a spyglass before?”
He peered at her in the dim light. “I’m trying to figure out what purpose it serves as a decoration.”
“I like it. Is that not reason enough?”
“Your shelves and tables are filled with things without any apparent use. It’s very untidy.” He sounded perturbed and she felt another smile tugging at her mouth.
“And it’s such a sin, is it? To be untidy?”
“I prefer order.”
“Yes,” she said, still a little amused. “No doubt you do.” Propriety and rigid rules. The things he clung to, she had no use for anymore. If she ever had to begin with. When he was silent, she continued, “I found that washed up on the shore of the sea loch one day. I was quite taken with it. Who knows who possessed it before me—a pirate, a privateer, a sailor trying to make his way home to his love? Did his ship sink before he could find his way back?”
“Most likely,” Theo said. “Or it wouldn’t have washed up on the shore.”
“Well, that is quite literal.” If there was an ounce of whimsy in that hardened soul it was buried deep. She had a strange yearning to try to draw it out, which, as any intelligent woman would do, she repressed. “But that’s why I display it,” she continued. “I enjoy the idea that there’s a history there, a story I’ll never know.”
He contemplated her. “You like the mystery?”
“Something like that. Or…” She tried to frame her thoughts. “The possibilities, perhaps.”
His mouth quirked. “I find I don’t much care for possibilities. I’d rather have facts.”
“Don’t you ever feel stifled?”
His brow furrowed as he looked at her. “No. Why should I?”
“There is much more to this world, to this life, than facts and order. There’s beauty and hope and…and love.” She felt silly after she said it, but it was too late to take the words back. It was odd—she thought of herself as a sensible woman. She was a sensible woman, but somewhere in her depths was a core of idealism that she couldn’t quite shake.
A moment passed before he spoke, and when he did, there was something underneath the wry tone of his voice, but she couldn’t place it. “What do you know of love?”