You have always embodied the worst of my father,” Lillian said. “The coldness, the ambition, the self-centeredness. Except you’re worse because you’re able to disguise it far more adeptly than he does. You’re what my father would have been if he’d been blessed with good looks and a little sophistication. I think that in winning you Daisy must somehow feel she has finally succeeded with Father.” Her brows came together as she continued. “My sister has always compelled to love unlovable creatures…the strays, the misfits. Once she loves someone, no matter how many times they betray or disappoint her, she will take them back with open arms. But you won’t appreciate that any more than Father does. You’ll take what you want, and give her very little in return. And when you inevitably hurt her, I will be the first in a line of people waiting to slaughter you. By the time I finish with you, there won’t be enough left for the others to pick over.” “So much for impartiality,” Matthew said. He respected her brutal honesty even though he was smarting from it. “May I respond with the same frankness you’ve just shown me?” “I hope you will.” “My lady, you don’t know me well enough to assess how much like your father I may or may not be. It’s no crime to be ambitious, particularly when you’ve started with nothing. And I’m not cold, I’m from Boston. Which means I’m not prone to displaying my emotions for all and sundry to see. As far as being self-centered, you have no way of knowing how much I’ve done, if anything, for other people. But I’ll be damned if I recite a list of my past good deeds in hopes of winning your approval.” He leveled a cool stare at her. “Regardless of your opinions, the marriage is going to happen, because both Daisy and I want it. So I have no reason to lie to you. I could say I don’t give a damn about Daisy, and I would still get what I want. But the fact is, I’m in love with her. I have been for a long time.” “You’ve been secretly in love with my sister for years?” Lillian asked with blistering skepticism. “How convenient.” “I didn’t define it as ‘in love.’ All I knew was that I had a persistent, all-consuming…preference for her.” “Preference?” Lillian looked momentarily outraged, and then she surprised him by laughing. “My God, you really are from Boston.” “Believe it or not,” Matthew muttered, “I wouldn’t have chosen to feel this way about Daisy. It would have been far more convenient to find someone else. The devil knows I should be given some credit for being willing to take on the Bowmans as in-laws.” “Touché.” Lillian continued to smile, leaning her chin on her hand as she stared at him.