The Duchess (Montgomery/Taggert 16) - Page 112

“I did everything you wanted.”

“You showed her all of the papers?”

“All of them.”

Eugenia looked up at her youngest child. “Don’t look at me like that, Harry. I’ve done all of this for you.” For the first time in her life, Eugenia saw coldness in her youngest son’s eyes. She was used to seeing that expression on the faces of her other children, but Harry had never looked at her with anything but love.

“And you’ll keep your part of the bargain?” he said, his mouth in a firm line.

“Of course. And now, my darling, stay and have luncheon with me. I have salmon, just as you like it.”

Harry took a while to answer her. “No,” he said at last. “I don’t think I want to eat with you. I’m going to have my meal with Claire.” He turned on his heel and left her alone in the room.

Claire spent the day with Harry. She wasn’t very good company. She kept looking out the window, hoping for a glimpse of Trevelyan. She listened to Harry talk of his trip to Edinburgh, but she had to pretend interest in what he was saying. How very different his conversation was from Trevelyan’s!

She forced herself to stop thinking like that. Harry was the man she was going to marry. Maybe he wasn’t as interesting as Trevelyan, but then there wasn’t but one Captain Baker on earth. It wasn’t fair to compare an ordinary man like Harry to someone as world renowned as Captain Baker.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t hear what you were saying,” she said to Harry.

He reached across the tea table to take her hand. “If you’re waiting for Trevelyan to come to you, he won’t. He’s not a man who can be owned.”

“But he said that he loved me,” Claire cried in despair.

Harry leaned away from her and she was sure she had offended him deeply. “Did he?” Harry asked softly. “I don’t remember hearing that he’s done that before.”

Claire looked away and tried to blink away her tears. At one time the library had been her prime interest in life, but now all she could think about was Trevelyan. If he did love her, why didn’t he come for her? How could he allow her to spend time with another man? Was he with Nyssa? Had he already replaced her with another woman?

Harry very kindly arranged for the two of them to have a private supper in the library, but Claire couldn’t eat much. She picked at her food, pushing it around on her plate. Harry made a few attempts at conversation but became silent after he met with Claire’s monosyllabic replies.

After supper Claire was so tired that she could hardly drag herself up to her bedroom and undress herself. Yet, when she was in bed, she couldn’t sleep. She lay still and looked at the underside of the canopy.

When the portrait on the wall moved, she leaped out of the bed and ran to it. “Vellie!” she said, hope in her voice. He had come for her.

But it wasn’t Trevelyan at the door but her sister, Brat. Claire turned away and listlessly went back to bed.

“You shouldn’t be up,” Claire said, but more from habit than because she meant it.

To Claire’s consternation, Brat climbed in bed with her and hugged her sister tightly.

“What’s going on?” Brat whispered. “I don’t understand anything.”

Claire hadn’t thought her little sister was capable of being a child. Sarah Ann seemed to have been born old and knowledgeable. Yet this was a child who was hugging her now.

“I’m going to marry Harry,” Claire said. She wasn’t going to lie to the child.

“But you love Trevelyan and he loves you.”

Claire took a deep breath. “Sometimes there’s more to marriage than just love. Sometimes other things have to be considered.”

“You mean me, don’t you? You’re going to marry Harry so you can get the money and keep me from being poor.”

“What an absurd idea. I’m not doing any such thing. Harry is a lovely man. I agreed to marry him because I loved him, not for money. I’m sure Harry and I will have a very nice life together. I shall do something with this place and the other ones Harry owns. I’ll bring them into the nineteenth century. We’ll put bathrooms all over this monster house. You’ll like that, won’t you? You’ll like living here, won’t you? You said that you loved this house and all the people in it.”

Sarah Ann took a deep breath. “I love you too. And I love Trevelyan and I love Nyssa.” And I love Harry, she thought, but she didn’t say that. Since Harry had returned he looked to be as sad as Claire. Sarah Ann knew the two of them were forcing themselves to marry. But why? That was what she didn’t understand.

“When did this happen? I thought you hated Nyssa. She can say some cruel things at times.”

“She doesn’t mean them. She’s…I don’t know, I think I love her because she’s happy. I don’t know many happy people.”

Tags: Jude Deveraux Montgomery/Taggert Historical
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