Cordelia glanced over her shoulder. “Is it — I mean, I wish to chat alone with you, too, but are we being dreadfully rude asking your brother to walk behind us?”
“Not a bit,” Lucie assured her. “Look at him. He’s quite distracted, reading.”
And he was. James had a book out and was calmly reading while he walked. Though he seemed entirely caught up in whatever he was perusing, he nevertheless skirted oncoming passers-by, the occasional rock or fallen branch, and once even a small boy holding a hoop, with admirable grace. Cordelia suspected that if she had tried such a stunt, she would have crashed into a tree.
“You’re so lucky,” Cordelia said, wistfully, still looking over her shoulder at James.
“Goodness me, why?” Lucie looked at her with wide eyes. Where James’ eyes were amber, Lucie’s were a pretty pale blue, a shade lighter than her father’s. The famous dark blue Herondale eyes had gone to Will’s sister’s children.
Cordelia’s head snapped back around. “Oh, because —“ Because you get to spend time with James every day? She doubted Lucie thought that was any special gift; one didn’t, when it was one’s family. “He’s such a good older brother. If I’d asked Alastair to walk ten paces behind me in a park he would have made sure to stick by my side the entire time just to be annoying.”
“Pfft!” Lucie exhaled. “Of course I adore Jamie but he’s been dreadful lately, ever since he fell in love.”
She might as well have dropped an incendiary device on Cordelia’s head. Everything seemed to fly apart around her. “He’s what?”
“Fallen in love,” Lucie repeated, with the look of someone enjoying imparting a bit of gossip. “Oh, he won’t say with who, of course, because it’s Jamie and he never tells us anything. But Father’s diagnosed him and he says it’s definitely love.”
“You make it sound like consumption.” Cordelia’s head was whirling with dismay. James in love? With who? The look he had given her when she stepped down from the carriage, perhaps she had imagined that?
“Well, it is a bit, isn’t it? He gets all pale and moody and stares off out of windows like Keats.”
“Did Keats stare out of windows? I don’t recall hearing that.”
Lucie plowed on, undeterred by the question of whether England’s foremost romantic poet did or did not stare out of windows. “He won’t say anything to anyone but Matthew, and Matthew is a tomb where James is concerned. I heard a bit of their conversation once by accident, though —“
“Accident?” Cordelia raised an eyebrow.
“I may have been hiding beneath a table,” said Lucie, with dignity. “But it was only because I had lost an earring and was looking for it.”
Cordelia suppressed a smile. “Go on.”
“He is definitely in love, and Matthew definitely thinks he is being foolish. He does not like her.”