The two met and shared a passionate kiss and now they are friends of sort...
The Lady with the Veil by Alexander Roslin
“Marry me Claire,” Viscount Westmorland said to the stunning redhead seated across from him in his mother’s grand salon. “I can’t go on like this, another year. One of those ravenous maidens pinched me this afternoon in Harrison’s sitting room.”
“Shall I pour you a lemonade, my lord?” she asked.
“Marriage Claire. With children, grand estates and my eternal gratitude… Doesn’t that sound lovely?”
“And it would have to be you I marry?” she asked, eyes sparking with mischief as she extended a hand with the aforementioned lemonade.
“What keeps me suffering your awful company?”
“Does that mean you no longer wish to marry me?” she laughed.
“Did I tell you how Lady Riley lured me to tea with that sumptuous body of hers then tried to marry me off to her daughter.”
“She’s a lovely girl.”
“It’s perverse Claire. I could be that child’s father.”
“Oh, that’s right. You did court her mother when she was a débutante. Didn’t you?”
“Are you deliberately trying to provoke me?”
“No, my lord, but after a lifetime of knowing you I find I no longer have to make an effort. It just sort of happens.”
“I never liked you.”
“And still you would marry me?”
“Taking joy from my humiliation makes you depraved. You see that, don’t you?”
“Surely you don’t begrudge me my one happiness.”
“I realized something in coming here to see my mother.”
“And what is that, my lord?”
“I don’t like the company she keeps.”
“But I’m not company so much as companion and you pay my keep so you could, I suppose, instruct her to have me behave.”
“You only say that because you know full well she prefers you to me and would have me banished from the premises.”
“Nonsense,” his mother said as she entered, “Now stop bothering Claire and come take my hand. I have wonderful news.”
“I warn you, my dear. If this wonderful news of yours has anything to do with some suitable maiden I won’t be able to bear it,” Henry said as he greeted his mother with kind hand and a miserable smile.
“I’ve given up on finding you a bride and have instead found a husband for myself,” Blanche St John said pertly as she brushed pass her son to sit next to her companion.
“This is new,” Henry said to Claire as his mother settled.
“Have I your blessing, my angel?” his mother continued in spite of his rude dismissal.
“To whom have you decided to marry my dear?” he asked indulgently though he did not believe his mother would, at five and fifty, remarry.
“Lord Philippe Marcel. We are both widowed now and I should like to live out the rest of my days in the land of my birth away from this constant chill here in England.”
“Et tu Maman?”
“This was not done to you my angel,” his mother said defensively. “You’re three and thirty and I’ve dedicated a decade and a half to finding you a wife to no avail. No more. I will return to France at season’s end and you will wish me well.”
“And what of Claire?”
My love my care,