In the weeks that followed, Elizabeth discovered to her pleasure that she could ask Ian any question about any subject and that he would answer her as fully as she wished. Not once did he ever patronize her when he replied, or fend her off by pointing out that, as a woman, the matter was truly none of her concern-or worse-that the answer would be beyond any female’s ability to understand. Elizabeth found his respect for her intelligence enormously flattering-particularly after two astounding discoveries she made about him:
The first occurred three days after their wedding, when they both decided to spend the evening at home, reading.
That night after supper, Ian brought a book he wanted to read from their library-a heavy tome with an incomprehensible title-to the drawing room. Elizabeth brought Pride and Prejudice, which she’d been longing to read since first hearing of the uproar it was causing among the conservative members of the ton. After pressing a kiss on her forehead, Ian sat down in the high-backed chair beside hers. Reaching across the small table between them for her hand, he linked their fingers together, and opened his book. Elizabeth thought it was incredibly cozy to sit, curled up in a chair beside him, her hand held in his, with a book in her lap, and she didn’t mind the small inconvenience of turning the pages with one hand.
Soon, she was so engrossed in her book that it was a full half-hour before she noticed how swiftly Ian turned the pages of his. From the corner of her eye, Elizabeth watched in puzzled fascination as his gaze seemed to slide swiftly down one page, then the facing page, and he turned to the next. Teasingly, she asked, “Are you reading that book, my lord, or only pretending for my benefit?”
He glanced up sharply, and Elizabeth saw a strange, hesitant expression flicker across his tanned face. As if carefully phrasing his reply, he said slowly, “I have an-odd ability-to read very quickly.”
“Oh,” Elizabeth replied, “how lucky you are. I never heard of a talent like that.”
A lazy glamorous smile swept across his face, and he squeezed her hand. “It’s not nearly as uncommon as your eyes,” he said.