After dinner, Eden and Sophia retired to the first-class drawing room, which was empty, most of the passengers preferring the parlor or smoking in the gentlemen’s lounge.
“Where did you go?” Sophia asked Eden. “I worried about you every day.”
“I was all right—it was quite nice for a while, but I can only cope with George and Wil and…England for so long.” She smiled again.
“I thought you might be with George. And Wil, and…who?”
“Oh it doesn’t matter—a lot of people at Wil’s house in Kent. It’s one of those big ones, you know—not like El’s cottage,” Eden said.
“El’s ‘cottage’ has nine bedrooms.”
“Yes, well…Wil’s has a deer park,” Eden raised her eyebrows and made an unconvincing frown.
“So you’ve suffered, then, while I was luxuriating in my examinations?” Sophia teased.
“But I have suffered, Sophie. I missed the look on your face when your exam results came in. I missed taking you to the Continental to celebrate. I missed you on my walks in the deer park, for all that…” Eden looked furtively around her to confirm that they were alone in the room. She placed a careful hand on Sophia’s thigh. “I’m tired of missing you, darling.”
“Ah yes, I know. I know,” Sophia didn’t bother to look about her. She leaned close to Eden and kissed her cheek, laying her head, for just a moment on Eden’s shoulder and snatching a breath of the faint but familiar scent of turpentine and hair oil and soap. She was home. Even on a boat in the middle of the sea.