~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
“Is anyone else around?”
“I don’t think so but let
me look to make sure.”
“No… no one there.”
“Lord, I’ve missed
you,” Will said as he pulled Cynthia into his arms, his mouth swooping down to
cover hers in a passionate kiss.
Cynthia’s arms slipped up
around Will’s head as the kiss deepened and molded her body to his.
“Mmm… I’ve missed you too,” she murmured against his lips as the
kiss slowly tapered off.
“How much longer until our
wedding?” William asked as he sat
on the small bench then pulled his fiancée into his lap, his hands caressing
her sides through her dress.
“A week…” Cynthia
replied as she slipped her head down to attack his neck with her lips.
“Then we can be alone… and…”
“And be together,” Will
said as he reached up and slipped his fingers beneath her chin to lift her face.
“Are you sorry we’ve waited to… make love to each other?”
Cynthia gave William a
brilliant smile and shook her head. “No.
Waiting will only make our coming together that much sweeter,” she
leaned in and brushed a soft kiss to his lips.
“Besides… it is not like we haven’t…” Cynthia blushed.
“We know some of what each other likes.”
Will grinned just as his hand
came up to cup Cynthia’s cloth-covered breast.
“Yes we do,” he said as he teased her nipple to erection with his
thumb. “And just think of all we
still have to learn.”
Cynthia shuddered in his
arms. “Oh… I cannot wait to
Will chuckled and lowered his
mouth back to hers. The two lost
themselves in their kiss, enjoying their first stolen moment together since
their wedding plans went into full swing three weeks earlier. When the kiss threatened to grow into something more, Will
broke it off and Cynthia buried her head in his shoulder.
“I am…” Cynthia began
in a breathless voice. “So
grateful now… that Nathan kidnapped mother off her ship…”
“If he hadn’t, you could
have died after he’d rescued you from that ship,” Cynthia reached down with
her hand to caress William’s leg through his pants.
“Then you wouldn’t have come here, and we would never have met and
fallen in love…”
“Thank God for small
miracles,” William said with a smile as he brushed his lips against her
temple. “So…” he began, his
lips still moving against her hair. “How
long do you think we can hide out here before…”
“CYNTHIA! WILLIAM! You two
get yourselves back in this house this instant!”
“Not long,” Cynthia
answered with a chuckle then lifted her head off his shoulder to give him a wry
smile. “Just a week to go,” she
told him as she leaned in and brushed a soft kiss to his lips.
“That are going to move
slow as molasses,” Will said as he drew her back for another kiss.
“WILLIAM EDWARD NOYCE
“I think we better get back
inside,” Cynthia told him. “I
would actually like for both of us to make it to our wedding intact.”
Will chuckled and nodded as
Cynthia slid off his lap then quickly stood.
He pulled her into his arms. “I
love you, Cyn.”
“And I love you, Will.”
They shared a sweet, gentle
kiss then left the gazebo hand in hand, neither one noticing the figure stepping
out of the shadows; watching them.
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
Nathan and Kristin lay sated
in each other’s arms.
“I really don’t think we
need to worry about you not wanting to make love,” Nathan told his wife as he
stroked her hair.
Kristin chuckled and snuggled
closer… or as close as her expanding stomach would allow. “No… so far it doesn’t seem to be a problem.”
Nathan laughed and slid his
hand down beneath the quilt to caress the taut bulge.
“Not too active tonight,” he said.
“That’s fine with me.”
“Does it hurt you when he
“No… not really,”
Kristin answered. “It does feel
odd… and sometimes it can be a little uncomfortable,” she said as she
slipped her hand down to entwine her fingers with his on her belly. “But all of that seems so insignificant when you realize
that it is a little life growing there.”
“It is pretty amazing…”
Nathan whispered then pressed a kiss into her hair,
“You are pretty amazing!”
Kristin shook her head.
“Trust me… you are,”
Nathan told her. “And I love you
more and more with each passing moment.”
“And I you,” Kristin
replied as she snuggled a little closer.
“So… when are you going
to tell me what’s on your mind?”
Kristin smiled against his
“I’ve been thinking…”
“About our leaving for the
“Yes,” Kristin nodded.
“You still want to do
I want our baby born on the island… in our bed…” Kristin told him.
“All right then…”
Nathan replied. “I guess the
first thing would be to ask where the seaQuest is docked.”
“At my yard in Cornwall,”
Kristin told him. “I had Shan
sail her down there with a note to tell John to allow her moor there and finish
“Okay,” Nathan nodded and
shifted Kristin away from him slightly so that she was on her back then rolled
up onto his side so he could gaze down at her.
“So… now the decision is… do we send someone down to tell Shan to
bring the seaQuest up, or do we take a carriage down?”
“I think we should we take
a carriage,” Kristin told him.
“Are you sure?
It won’t be an easy ride, and you’re further along now then when we
“I know,” Kristin said.
“But I’m sure. We can just pile some extra pillows in the carriage, and if
you don’t mind, we can make a few extra stops.”
“Sweetheart… we can make
all the stops you need.”
“Then we’ll leave just
after the wedding?” Kristin
“Name the day.”
Kristin smiled up at him and
reached out to cup his cheek. “Thank
you, my rogue.”
“I can deny you nothing, my
lady.” Nathan told her as he
turned his lips into her palm.
“Is that so?”
Kristin asked coyly as she lifted an eyebrow.
Nathan grinned down at her
then shifted over her; his hips settling in the cradle of Kristin’s thighs as
he pushed himself up on his arms to keep his weight off her belly.
“So…” Kristin rubbed
herself against his growing erection then wrapped her legs behind his knees as
she slid her hands up his chest to his shoulders.
“If I told you that I wished to make love to you again… right
“I would be helpless but to
give you what you wanted.”
“Mmm… oh good…”
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
frowned at her husband as he continued to drum his fingers on the top of his
“Sorry, Mils,” Stonevale
murmured as he stilled his fingers.
Millicent sighed as within
five minutes, he was doing it again. “What
on Earth is bothering you? You’ve
been fidgety all day… and come to think of it, you’ve been distracted all
“I know… I’m sorry,”
Lionel said. “I’ve been working
through something, and I think I’ve finally figured it out.”
“Figured what out,
Father?” Kristin asked as she
lowered herself onto the couch before them.
“Thank you, my love,” she smiled up at Nathan as he placed her cup of
tea on the end table beside the couch.
Nathan replied then sat down next to her.
“You look tired, Nathan,”
“I am tired,” Nathan
smiled at his mother-in-law. “I
never realized planning a wedding could be so tiring,” he reached out and
grasped Kristin’s hand, lacing their fingers together.
“Ours was not nearly as complicated as this one.”
“Nathan had everything planned in one night.”
“Well, I’d been thinking
about it when we were on Monito…”
“Monito?” Millicent asked.
“A smaller island I own
where we spent a few days,” Nathan answered.
“You didn’t tell me you
owned Monito!” Kristin said,
turning shocked eyes on her husband.
“You didn’t ask,”
Nathan smiled at her.
“Yes, I… no I
didn’t,” Kristin finished with a blush.
“I guess I had other things on my mind…”
Millicent smiled at the pink
hue on her daughter’s face and the growing grin on Nathan’s and chuckled
softly to herself. ‘I think I now
know where my grandchild was conceived.’
“And once we arrived on our
island, I sent my first mate off to dispose of some… unneeded cargo,” Nathan
squeezed Kristin’s hand at the slight shudder he felt course through her body.
“He was also under orders to bring back a minister.
The day after Reverend Law arrived, Kristin and I were married.”
“You planned your whole
wedding… yourself and in one night?”
I was quite anxious to marry this beautiful woman,” Nathan turned to
smile at his wife.
“So…” Lionel spoke up
suddenly. “When did all this
happen? How long after Kristin was
taken from the Spirit?”
Kristin and Nathan shared a
look before they turned to face her father.
“About a month,” they answered in unison then grinned at each other.
“It was a month after I’d
rescued her that we went to Monito,” Nathan said.
“And it was about a month after that, that we were married.”
“Ah,” Lionel nodded.
Kristin narrowed her eyes at
her father. “What is it, Father?
Does this have anything to do with whatever it was you said you’d
finally figured out?”
Lionel pursed his lips as he
brought his hand up to stroke his beard before he slowly nodded.
“Are you going to share it
with us?” Millicent asked her
“Yes… I am planning
to,” Lionel answered. “I’m
just trying to better organize my thoughts, and choose my words… I don’t
want to upset anyone.”
“Tell us, Father,”
“If I do, will you promise
to not say a word, or interrupt me until I am finished?”
“Of course,” Kristin said
with a glance at Nathan who nodded his agreement.
“That goes for the rest of
you as well,” Lionel called out to the other occupants of the room.
Will and Cynthia who were
playing cards with Ben and Katie in one corner of the room all nodded their
agreement, as did Lucas and Clarissa who were playing a different game with
Bill, Janet and the Youngs.
Lavinia told the duke.
Lionel nodded in her
direction, seated in an overstuffed chair beside the fireplace then with a small
sip of the brandy in his hand he began. “I
have come to the conclusion that my new son-in-law is none other than the
infamous Blue Rogue himself.”
A chorus of voices rang out
at the duke’s words, but he merely held his hands up in a bid for silence.
“You gave me your word… all of you,” Stonevale said,
“that you would let me have my say without interruption.”
Kristin and Nathan glanced at
each other, worried confusion apparent in both their eyes. Nathan squeezed Kristin’s hand reassuringly before they
turned back to her father. “Sorry…”
they said together.
Lionel glanced about the room
to see the others nodding their apologies as well then continued.
“As I was saying, I’ve concluded that Nathan is in fact the Blue
Rogue, and it was he who kidnapped you,” he said as he looked directly at
Kristin, “from the Spirit not
that other pirate…” Lionel stopped before saying Zellar’s name as he
noticed her body stiffen and turn slightly into Nathan’s.
“After which, the two of
you bonded over my new grandson,” Lionel glanced across the room to smile at
Lucas, the two having bonded themselves over the last few weeks. “First with his reading, and then I understand from Lucas
that the two of you took care of him when he got sick with a fever… then you
nursed each other.”
Millicent watched as both
Nathan and Kristin flushed and shared small smiles.
‘Must have been some nursing…’
“I’m not too sure on the
order of facts here, but somewhere along the way, you found young Noyce, spent
some time on that other island of yours,” Stonevale said then paused to take a
sip of his brandy. “And then I
think you had a run in with that bastard… with Zellar, and somehow he managed
to kidnap Krissy off the boat… possibly both of you and together you effected
an escape before he was able to…” his voice trailed off and he gave Kristin
an apologetic look as she buried her face in Nathan’s neck.
“It’s okay, my lady,”
Nathan soothed his wife as he slipped his arms around her and pulled her as
close as he could. “The bastard
The room grew very quiet as
Nathan continued to whisper calm, loving words in Kristin’s ear, his hands
gently rubbing her; one on her back, the other on her belly. After several minutes, a sniffle was heard and then Kristin
lifted her head from Nathan’s shoulder.
“Thank you…” Kristin
murmured and tilted her head up to brush a soft kiss against his lips, not
caring that the others were present.
“Anytime, my love,”
Nathan whispered back as she shifted a little closer and laid her head on his
Together they looked at her
father, their eyes telling him to continue.
“I’m sorry,” Lionel
told Kristin softly, relieved at the slight nod she gave him. “After that, I believe it was as you’ve said… you went
to the island, where within a couple weeks you were married and had a short
honeymoon then you,” his eyes met Nathan’s,
“sent her back here and went after that son of a bitch.”
Silence filled the room as
Stonevale finished speaking and rose to refill his glass then resumed his seat
beside his wife.
“So is it true?”
All eyes turned to Lavinia;
the first to finally speak up.
“Are you the Blue Rogue?”
Lavinia asked Nathan.
Nathan looked back at his
wife. The two had a silent
conversation before Kristin smiled and nodded slightly.
Nathan turned back to face his in-laws and Lavinia.
“Yes… it’s true. I am the Blue Rogue.”
Kristin squeezed Nathan’s
hand as she shifted closer to her husband.
“You’re a pirate?”
Millicent’s voice was low and full of surprise.
She turned her gaze onto Kristin. “You
married a pirate?”
A slow smile filled
Kristin’s face as she gazed up at Nathan and nodded.
“Yes. I married a
“Now that you know,”
Nathan began as he met his father-in-law’s direct gaze,
“what are you going to do?”
“I honestly don’t
know,” Lionel told him. “I have
been wrestling with that decision for the last couple of weeks.
You are a wanted man. You’ve
knowingly attacked a dozen or so British naval vessels; taken and killed some of
His Majesty’s officers…”
“He has not!”
Kristin said vehemently as she lifted her head from Nathan’s shoulder.
“Nathan has never killed a man… except in self-defense!”
“Are you saying all those
stories about the Blue Rogue taking men off the naval ships are lies?”
“No,” Nathan answered.
“I did take those men off the ships.
I liberated those men who had been pressed into service. Men
who did not ask to be part of the British navy but who had been forced into the
navy. Men who were not even British
citizens. And yes, every once in a
while I would take a couple of the officers… however, I’ve never killed
them. In fact, every officer I’ve
taken has cleverly managed to escape from my ship…”
“Because Nathan would let
them…” Kristin told her father. “He
would take them as witnesses… so they would go back to the navy and tell them
the other men he’d freed were dead.”
“Why?” The question came from Lavinia.
“So that the navy would not
hunt the men down as deserters,” Lionel answered.
“I take it you returned them to their homes?”
“If that is what they
wanted… yes,” Nathan answered.
“If you were only attacking
Naval vessels, why did you attack Kristin’s ship?”
Nathan said. “One of my men
mistook the Spirit for the ship we were looking for… the ship that Will had
been pressed into service on.”
“Oh… I see.”
“So… I repeat, sir.”
Nathan looked at Stonevale. “Now
that you know, what are you going to do?”
“I should, by all rights,
alert the authorities,” Stonevale said. “Have
you taken into custody. You are a
pirate after all. And it was a
pirate who is responsible for the death of my son…”
“And for mine as well,”
Lavinia spoke up as she levered herself out of the chair and walked the small
distance to the sofas. “But I
feel no malice for this man,” she gestured to Nathan.
“If anything, I feel a sense of gratitude that he was instrumental in
bringing to justice the bastard who murdered our sons.”
Lionel turned to look at
“Both Nathan and I would
understand if you felt the need to call the authorities, however, Nathan would
not be here by the time they arrived… and neither would I,” Kristin told
him. “And… we would never step
foot in England again.”
“You would leave England…
your home… for this man?”
“I told you on the night
Nathan returned… if he asked me to, I would leave with him in a heartbeat,”
Kristin answered. “Not only is he
the father of my child, your grandchild… Nathan is my home, and my place is by
Lionel looked thoughtful, his
fingers once again stroking his beard. “It
has also come to my attention that there is a certain rumour still circulating
among the ton,” he began. “That
the Blue Rogue is dead. That he’d
been caught and hung by the British navy. I
see no reason why that rumour should be corrected.”
A large smile found its way
to Kristin’s lips. “Thank you,
Lionel inclined his head.
“He makes you happy. Happier
than I have ever seen you,” he said then turned to Nathan.
“You are a good man, Bridger. You
would have to be for my daughter to fall in love with you.”
“Thank you, sir.”
“And I repeat my earlier
warning… if you ever hurt her… by God, I will make sure that you rue the
day,” Lionel growled.
“I could never hurt your
daughter,” Nathan told Stonevale then turned to face Kristin as he continued.
“She is the other half of my soul… without her, I have no life.
And even the thought of her suffering in any way fills me with
Kristin smiled at Nathan, her
eyes bright with unshed tears and lifted her hand to cup his cheek.
“I love her…” Nathan
said then turned back to his father-in-law.
“With all that I am, I love her. I
would give my life for her without hesitation.”
A slow smile filled
Lionel’s face. “I know you
would, son.” He said.
“Any fool can see how much you love my daughter… including me.”
“Thank you,” Nathan
Lionel sat back and slipped
his hand into his wife’s as he glanced at her.
“Well my dear… it appears that we have an outlaw for an in-law!”
The room erupted into
“I don’t know about the
rest of you,” Kristin began as the laughter slowly died away, “but I would really like a fresh cup of tea.”
“That sounds delightful,”
“Yes, it does,” Janet,
said as the other women in the room nodded.
“We’ll go get it,”
Cynthia said as she and Will stood and hurried, hand in hand, towards the door.
“And would you be so kind
as to ask cook to prepare some sandwiches for your mother,” Nathan asked his
step-daughter as she passed behind the sofa.
“How did you…?”
“Know that the princess was
hungry?” Nathan finished with a
smile as he reached out to lay his hand on her gravid belly.
“I just knew.”
Kristin smiled then leaned
her head back and called out to her daughter.
“And know that I would like my tea to be hot!”
Cynthia’s voice filtered back into the room.
“Smart kids,” Nathan
leaned close and whispered in her ear. “Wish
I’d thought of it.”
Kristin blushed and swatted
his knee. “Behave…” she told
him. “My parents are sitting
right in front of us.”
Nathan chuckled and chanced a
quick glance at his in-laws, not surprised to find them watching he and Kristin
with bemused smiles on their faces. “I’ll
bet they’re thinking the same thing I am.”
“It’s a bet you’d
win,” Lionel commented softly then laughed heartily as both his wife and
“See… told you,” Nathan
“Nathan, stop embarrassing
Nathan turned to look at
Bess. “I wasn’t…”
Bess pinned a knowing look on
“How did you…?”
“It’s my job to know,”
“And you thought Stephens
was scary!” Kristin whispered
then chuckled at his vigorous nod. At
that moment, Cynthia and Will entered pushing the tea trolley. “Where are the sandwiches?”
“Cook will be bringing them in as soon as she finishes making them.”
“So,” Millicent began as
Cynthia poured then served the tea. “Lavinia
and I were talking earlier today… and we think after the wedding, once we’re
all back in the city, that we should have a small party.”
“To show off that new
husband of yours,” Lavinia finished with a smile.
“And we can also use this time to announce Cynthia and William’s
Nathan and Kristin looked at
each other, slight frowns marring their features.
“What is it? Do you not want a party?”
Millicent asked. “We
thought it would be the easiest way to introduce Nathan to the peerage.”
“It would be… however…” she glanced at Nathan.
“We won’t be here.”
Kristin and Nathan met each
other’s eyes again as the entire group erupted.
“What do you mean!?”
“Where are you going?”
Nathan and Kristin merely
sipped their tea while they waited for everyone to settle back down.
“Can we explain now?”
Kristin asked once they’d all quieted down.
“Please do!” Lionel said with a sharp nod.
“Does this have anything to
do with why you sent Ned off with that note a couple weeks back?”
Kristin once again looked at
Nathan, the two having a silent conversation before she looked back to her
mother and nodded. “Yes it
“Not the day after the
wedding, but the day after that,” Nathan began.
“Kristin and I will be leaving for Cornwall. Then after a few days rest, we will be sailing for our
“In your condition?”
“Are you sure that is
“I don’t know if it wise
or not,” Nathan answered. “But
that is what Kristin wants to do, and that is what we’re doing.”
“Krissy?” At her pointed glare, Lionel corrected himself.
“Is this true, Kristin?”
“I can’t explain it,”
Kristin answered. “All I know is
that I want… and need to have our baby on our island.
So, two days after the wedding, as Nathan has already told you, we will
be heading for the estate in Cornwall and from there, sailing to the island.”
“That will be putting your
arrival very close to your delivery time, won’t it?”
“I should have about a
month’s leeway,” Kristin answered.
“And what if you give birth
on the ship?” Lionel asked.
“What happens then?”
“Then I give birth on the
ship,” Kristin answered then glanced over to where Bess and Raleigh were still
seated. “The Youngs will be us…
so if I should go into labour while we’re sailing, Bess will there to deliver
the baby. However,” she smoothed
her hands down over her belly, “something
tells me Junior will wait until we reach the island.”
“The princess had
better,” Nathan said as he slipped his hand under hers and smiled when the
child within kicked.
“You would let her do
this?” Lionel asked Nathan.
“Sail in her condition? Knowing
there is a chance she could go into labour on the ship?”
“Yes,” Nathan answered.
“I am her husband… not her keeper.
You’ve seen what happens when you try to tell her what to do.”
“You’re not worried?”
“I would be a fool not to
be,” Nathan said. “But I trust
Kristin. And if she says she is
able to make the journey… then she is able.”
Cynthia moved to sit next to
her mother, Will taking up position behind her.
“Mummy… are you really going to do this?”
I am,” Kristin answered and reached for her daughter’s hand.
“I have to. You and Will
can join us later… after your honeymoon.”
“Well… after hearing
about this island from you, Lucas and Will… I admit that I am quite anxious to
see it,” Cynthia smiled then squeezed Kristin’s hand.
“You will love it,”
Kristin told Cynthia.
“I’m sure I will.”
“So does this mean you’re
all right with this?”
“I don’t like the fact that you will be so far away… but I
understand that you feel this is the right thing to do.”
“Thank you,” Kristin
smiled at her daughter.
“Are you certain about
this, daughter?” Lionel asked.
“There is no changing your
“Believe me, I’ve
tried,” Nathan commented with a smile at his wife.
“But this is what Kristin wants to do.”
Lionel sighed softly but
nodded. “And she will not be
Nathan shook his head.
“And it is my desire to keep my wife happy at all times.
That above all else is paramount,” Nathan said as he turned to meet his
wife’s eyes. “She wants to have
our child on our island…” he smiled at her,
“so on our island is where she shall be.”
Kristin smiled at Nathan and
reached out to cup his cheek, rubbing her thumb over his lower lip in gratitude.
“Give it up, Lionel,”
Millicent told her husband. “Kristin
is your daughter, and like you, she is as stubborn as any mule.”
“I am not stubborn!”
Lionel and Kristin stated at the same time then shared amused smiles.
Soft chuckles sounded
throughout the room.
“Yes you both are,”
Millicent said then looked at her husband.
“Kristin’s mind is made up… and nothing you say will convince her
otherwise. So I would suggest that
you stop trying and enjoy the next few days.”
Lionel sighed and nodded.
“As long as you’re happy… and this is truly what you want… then I
am happy for you, Kristin.”
“Thank you, Father,”
Kristin smiled at him then glanced around towards the door of the parlour.
“Where is cook with the sandwiches?”
“I’m sure she is coming,
sweetheart,” Nathan said as his hand circled over her belly.
“It’s not me… it’s
your son who is the hungry one,” Kristin said and then as if to emphasize its
mother’s thoughts, the baby kicked, rolling the front of Kristin’s dress.
Nathan laughed then shifted
and leaned down over her stomach as his hand slid around to cup where the
baby’s foot seemed to be. “Now
now, Princess… stop kicking your mother.
The food is coming.”
“Does the baby really lis…
I’ll be damned!” Lionel
remarked as his grandchild ceased kicking its mother.
“He… she… really does listen!”
Kristin smiled and laid her
hand on top of Nathan’s. “Yes.
Our child seems to love the sound of Nathan’s voice almost as much as I
Anything else anyone was
going to say was cut off by the cook entering the parlour carrying a tray loaded
down with sandwiches which Kristin attacked voraciously; much to the amusement
of her family.
I’m eating for two!” She
murmured before she took yet another bite of food.
“Yes you are, my love,”
Nathan patted her belly. “Yes you
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
The clock struck one before
Will decided that the household would be safely tucked away in bed.
He slid from the bed and quickly donned his dressing gown and slippers
then quietly left his room and moved down the connecting corridor toward
Cynthia’s room. The tiny candle
that he carried provided just enough illumination to keep him from stumbling
over the plethora of small tables and knick-knacks lining the walls.
‘Today is my wedding
day.’ He thought, a huge smile on his face.
Which was why he was skulking through a dark house at one in the morning.
Even though their wedding was supposed to be small it was going to be an
elegant affair. The details of the
ceremony had kept Cynthia so occupied over the last week that he’d barely even
seen her let alone had a chance to spend time with her without the prying eyes
of other people.
Moonlight filtered through
the occasional window, helping to light Will’s steps as he moved through the
darkness. ‘I just want to see my
bride alone for a little while…’
Will yelped as he drew close
to Cynthia’s door, caught off guard by the sudden movement as Nathan appeared
in the shadowy edge of candlelight, arms folded and jaws locked.
“And just where do you
think that you are going?” Nathan
was playing his role as father of the bride to the hilt.
What are you doing here? Is
something wrong with Cynthia?” Will reached toward the doorknob but Nathan
moved to block him.
“Cynthia is just fine.
She is asleep just like you should be.”
“Then why are you here…
outside her door?”
“Because you are here. Kristin
suspected that you might try to sneak into Cynthia’s room tonight.”
Will swore softly.
“I haven’t been alone with Cyn in days, Uncle Nathan.
Surely you understand how that makes me feel.”
“After you say your vows
tomorrow you can be alone with her all you like.”
Will stared at Nathan
dumbfounded. “Surely you of all
people aren’t going to lecture me about intimacy before marriage?
I didn’t come here to… I just wanted to talk to Cynthia.”
“I’m sure that is all
that you intend… but given the nature of the beast, talking could easily turn
into something else. You’ve
waited this long… you can wait one more day.
Just because Kristin and I… anticipated, it doesn’t give you and
Cynthia license to do the same. Yes
we would love grandchildren… but there is no need to rush things.
Enjoy being married a while before you have children.”
“You do have a point.
Cynthia and I plan to wait a while to start a family.”
“That’s probably a good
idea… Do you know how… do you need advice on contraception?”
“I’ve talked with dad
about it. Since there is a time
frame of several years between my parents’ anniversary and my birth they were
obviously experienced in that area whereas you…”
Nathan grinned wryly at his
godson. “Point taken.
But you still aren’t getting anywhere near my daughter until you meet
her at the altar in the chapel tomorrow.”
Will held his hands up in
I’m going back to bed. You
should go as well. We don’t want
the father of the bride to be bleary eyed as he gives her away either.
Besides, Aunt Kristin is probably very lonely without you.”
“Nice try, young William,
but even if you should succeed in getting past me I should warn you that my wife
is waiting on the other side of that door.
If I were you I would just accept my advice and not even try.
Kristin is very emotional over her daughter’s marriage, a lot of which
is due to her pregnancy. If you
persist in trying to get into that room you might not have to worry about
consummating your marriage for quite a while.”
Will’s face fell as he
slowly nodded then turned to trudge back down the hall.
“Will…” The young man
halted at his godfather’s call. “If
it is any consolation… I believe that her mother is giving Cynthia some advice
on the wedding night as well. And
Kristin’s advice is bound to be very… enlightening.”
A huge smile split Will’s
face. “Good night, Uncle
“Good night, son.”
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
Nathan murmured as the
sunlight creeping across the room finally reached the bed and fell on his closed
lids then he turned and snuggled into the warm body next to him.
“You’d better be my wife
or I’m in big trouble,” he murmured into the silky hair as his hands slid
around her bulky middle.
“That is an
understatement.” Kristin answered as she squirmed back into her husband’s
“I thought you were going
to stay the night with Cynthia…”
“I was but… I missed you
and apparently your child did as well.”
“A bit over active?”
Nathan ran his fingers soothingly over her abdomen.
“Turning somersaults by the
dozen. I couldn’t get comfortable
and I was keeping Cynthia awake. When
I opened the door and saw that you had disappeared I thought I’d follow you.
Presumably you took care of Will?”
“He did try to visit and I
dissuaded him. He had the audacity
to point out that I wasn’t the person he would want to ask about contraceptive
Kristin’s belly jiggled
beneath Nathan’s hands as her body shook with laughter. “William does have a point.
I didn’t dare broach that subject with my daughter.”
“You have been keeping
Cynthia very busy. Will has missed
spending time with her the last few days. I
can hardly blame him because I understand his feelings. I’ve missed you as well.
If I didn’t get to hold you every night…”
“Let’s just be grateful
that they are getting married tomorrow. I
doubt they would last much longer. I
suspect that their petting has been getting quite heavy.”
“Actually… they are
getting married today. It’s
almost four in the morning.”
“Oh, God. I’m going to look awful at the ceremony.”
“You could never look
anything but beautiful, my love. Just
settle back and rest… you too, my princess.”
“Can’t sleep long…”
Kristin mumbled, sleep already encroaching, “too much to do…”
“I’ll wake you up, I
promise.” Nathan’s words were greeted with silence as exhaustion won and
Kristin drifted into dreamland.
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
Kristin bolted from the
pillows, knowing instinctively that the morning was more than half gone.
Her eyes searched the room but it was empty so she threw the covers aside
and slid down the thick mattress.
“Sleeping beauty awakes.”
The sound of the door opening
and closing alerted Kristin to someone’s entrance and Nathan’s words
“You promised to wake me
up! I’m running terribly late!”
Kristin wailed as she stood in the middle of the floor trying to get her arms
into her dressing gown, not really sure of what to do first.
“Everything is under
control. It is only a few minutes
after nine. I’ve brought you a
“But the wedding is in two
hours. I have to help Cynni get
ready… greet the guests… check the chapel…”
“The first thing that you
have to do is sit down and eat. I
am sure that the princess is hungry.”
Kristin sniffed the air and
the baby kicked at the smell of breakfast drifting through the room when Nathan
uncovered the tray but she still hesitated.
“I don’t really have time…”
“You have to eat, Kristin.
Katie and Clarissa are already ensconced in Cynthia’s room helping her
get ready. You will be there for
the final touches, I promise. Lavinia and your mother are in charge of guest greeting.
Lizzie should have the water heated for your bath by the time that you
“Bess has been giving cook
some pointers, I see.” Kristin muttered around a mouthful of flaky biscuit.
“I hope there weren’t any fatalities.”
“I think that the two ladies have come to an understanding.
Bess simply suggested that perhaps cook might want to know some of mine
and Lucas’ favorite foods for when we stay in England.”
“And biscuits top the
list.” Kristin sighed contentedly then continued to eat.
A loud clatter from the small
bathing room next door alerted them to the presence of footmen filling the bath
with warm water. A few minutes
later Lizzie appeared in the adjoining door.
“The bath is ready whenever
Nathan held his hand out but
Kristin hesitated. “The princess
isn’t full yet.”
At this pronouncement Nathan
threw his head back and roared. “Go
see to my wife’s dress, Lizzie. I
will help her with her bath.”
Lizzie’s eyes grew wide but
she dropped a quick curtsey and disappeared through the door leading into
Kristin’s dressing room.
“You shouldn’t shock the
girl like that, darling. Husbands
don’t help their wives bathe or share their beds in her world.”
“This husband does.
Lizzie is just going to have to get used to it.”
Nathan hauled Kristin to her feet. “Go.”
After pausing momentarily to
stick her tongue out at her husband, Kristin moved toward the bathing room, her
robe falling to the floor just as she rounded the corner.
By the time that Nathan
reached the room Kristin was already settled in the tub.
He picked up a small table with one hand and moved it to the side of the
bath then sat down the cup of tea and plate of biscuits and ham that he had
brought with him.
“Feed the princess and let
me worry about doing the washing.”
Kristin eyed him lustily.
“We seem to get in trouble when you do that and I wouldn’t want to be
late for my own daughter’s wedding. It
would be difficult to explain…”
“I’ll behave, I
promise.” Nathan crossed his heart then dipped the soap in the water and began
to lather his hands.
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
“Kristin, you look
lovely!” Janet exclaimed as she approached the other woman in the hall outside
Madame Dussault had outdone
herself once again with Kristin’s gown for the wedding. The colour of the delicate silk was up for debate; the ecru
fabric taking on a blue tinge in some light and lavender tinge in other.
Instead of hiding the wearer’s condition it enhanced it.
The soft color also emphasized the glow of Kristin’s skin as happiness
emanated from her to wash over all those around.
“Thank you, Janet.
So do you. You should wear
yellow more often.”
Janet fingered the skirt of
her new gown. “Bill loves the
color as well.” A light blush touched her cheeks.
“How is William?”
“Wearing out your expensive
“Not having second
thoughts, is he?”
“No second thoughts. He is
just very nervous.”
“Shall we check on the
“My thoughts exactly.”
Kristin tapped lightly at the
door then turned the handle. “It’s
mother, dear. May Janet and I come
Cynthia was sitting at her
vanity when they entered, smiling serenely as Katie and Clarissa put the
finishing touches on her upswept strawberry curls.
“Mummy, what do you
think?” Cynthia looked at her mother, her eyes questioning.
“I think… I think that
you look absolutely perfect.”
“Will isn’t going to be
able to take his eyes off of you.” Janet seconded Kristin.
“Perhaps just…” Kristin
eyed the intricate pattern of Cynthia’s hair for just a moment then moved to a
nearby table. The bouquet of
fragrant white and pink blossoms that Cynthia was going to carry stood in the
vase waiting. Kristin plucked a few
of the tiniest blossoms from one side then moved in behind Cynthia and tucked
them carefully into her hair.
“How is that?”
“I like them, Mummy.
I am so glad that we still have fresh flowers in the greenhouse.”
“I can’t believe… my
baby is getting married!” The room was astonished when Kristin burst into
Cynthia threw her arms around
her mother. Soon both of them were
When Kristin felt her
daughter’s tears on her hand she pulled back, horrified.
“No… you can’t cry. Not
today. You don’t want your eyes
to be all puffy.” She dabbed at
the drops on Cynthia’s face then lifted the lace handkerchief in her hand to
her own cheeks. “Turn around and
let’s fix your face again.”
“What time is it?”
Cynthia asked as Katie smoothed a light dusting of powder across her cheeks.
“You have about forty-five
minutes until the ceremony. I hope
that my rugs can hold out that long.”
Cynthia looked confused as
Kristin and Janet shared a laugh but her soon to be mother-in-law explained.
“William is doing quite a bit of pacing at the moment.
Perhaps that is tradition as well. According
to Bill,” Janet looked at Kristin, “Nathan
probably walked ten miles waiting for your ceremony to start.”
“Nathan? He really paced that much?
He never let on that he was nervous.”
“Bill said that Nathan was
terrified that you would change your mind.”
Kristin was incredulous.
“As if that would have ever happened.”
“Should I put on my dress
“I think so… just in case
we need to make any last minute repairs or adjustments.”
“Bess did a wonderful job
with the alterations. I know that
Madame Dussault was a bit put out that I already had a dress but I wanted to
wear yours. When I was a little
girl I would sneak into your wardrobe and stare at it, imagining wearing it
Kristin smiled at the
admission. “I caught you doing
that several times. I never said
anything to you… I didn’t want to interrupt your daydreams.
I hadn’t been able to wear it after you were born… I would have had
to let it out in the bosom. But I
took very special care of it in hopes that you would wear it one day.”
“Were you happy the day you
married my father, Mummy?”
Kristin’s eyes softened.
“I was very happy, my love. Oliver
was a wonderful man and I was very proud to be his wife.
I felt like a princess in this beautiful gown. I was a little nervous as
I walked down the aisle on father’s arm but Oliver looked so handsome waiting
at the altar for me. He wore a gray
suit with a russet waistcoat and I could see the chain of the watch I had given
him hanging from his pocket.”
“Thank you for telling me,
Kristin chucked Cynthia
beneath her chin. “Why don’t
you girls go and get the dress ready for Cynthia to put on?”
Janet gently herded Katie and
Clarissa toward Cynthia’s small dressing room, recognizing that Kristin wanted
a few moments with her daughter.
“We’ve had a lot of
changes in our lives over the past few months, haven’t we?” Kristin asked as
she perched on the small bench beside Cynthia.
“That is an
“I just want you to know
that nothing has changed between us and it won’t.
I’m not thrilled at the thought of living so far away from you for part
of the year but I will always be here for you, no matter what.”
Cynthia squeezed her
mother’s hand. “Will and I will
be coming to your island to visit so often that you will be fed up with us.
I have to make sure that my baby sister knows who I am and how much I
“And someday there will be
tiny nieces and nephews for your sibling to play with.”
“Someday… I think we’d like to have some time together before we
start having babies. I hope you
“Of course not.
But sometimes babies come even if you aren’t ready for them.
There are ways that I can tell you to prevent them…”
“Will has talked to his father and I’ve talked to… Katie.”
Kristin’s face fell.
“Oh… that’s all right then.”
“Mummy, I didn’t mean…
I just couldn’t talk about… that… not to you.”
“I thought we could talk
about anything.” Kristin’s hurt
was evident though she tried to hide it.
Cynthia looked uncomfortable.
“We can. We have talked
about certain aspects of a physical relationship but… I know that you and
Nathan are very active in that part of your marriage but I don’t need to know
any details and I don’t want to be thinking about the two of you…” she
burst out without taking a breath.
A picture flashed in
Kristin’s mind of her parents locked together when she’d visited them
several months ago.
“I… think that I
understand. I would have been
mortified to have that type of conversation with my mother on my wedding day as
well. Perhaps in a few years you
might be more comfortable. But
Cynthia… if ever you do really need to speak with me… I am always here. A little embarrassment won’t kill either of us.”
“I promise.” Cynthia
leaned forward and brushed her lips across her mother’s cheek. “We’ll only be at the hunting lodge tonight so if I
should need to talk to you I won’t be far away.”
“If I might make a
suggestion… try the bathtub. I am
sure you will need to relax tonight.” Kristin
gave Cynthia one last brilliant smile before standing.
“Now let’s get you dressed.”
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
The quiet chatter drifting
from the upper floor alerted Nathan to the impending arrival of the wedding
party and he gave a nod to Lucas who was standing watch at the door of the
groom’s room. Will and Bill
appeared in the doorway, both wearing dark suits and a sprig of flower in their
Nathan inclined his head
toward the stairs. “I think that
the bride is ready. How about the
“Ready… I’m ready.”
Will answered nervously.
The vicar of the local parish
patted Will’s shoulder. “Let’s
head to the chapel, son.”
Will nodded. “Uncle Nathan… tell Cynthia… tell her that I am
“Go, son. I’ll tell her.”
Once the front door had
closed behind the groom’s party Nathan turned and called up the stairs.
“The coast is clear. You
can come down now.”
Katie and Clarissa appeared
at the top of the stairs in their bridesmaid’s gowns and carefully descended.
Janet followed close behind.
“You look very handsome.”
Janet ruffled Nathan’s hair as she passed him.
He laughed as he smoothed it down.
“Save your compliments for
the bride and groom.”
complimented the bride. The
bride’s mother looks quite lovely as well.”
“The bride’s mother takes
my breath away every time that I look at her.”
The sound of a carriage
pulling up to the door drew their attention.
“I feel silly riding a few hundred yards to the chapel when we could
“The ground is cold and
wet. You don’t want to ruin the
hems of your dresses.”
Janet nodded as Kristin
appeared at the top of the stairs. “Come
girls. Get your cloaks and let’s
go get in the carriage.”
Nathan took the stairs two at
a time to Kristin’s side and held her arm and waist as she slowly moved down
“You look lovely… as
beautiful as you did on our wedding day.”
“I look pregnant. When I walk into that chapel there will be no doubt.
I know that we didn’t invite that many people from the ton but there
will be enough of them in attendance that all bets will be collected by this
“I should have asked
Malcolm to place one for me. Is the
bride going to be joining us soon?”
“I’m right here.”
Nathan turned to find Cynthia
standing halfway down the staircase. He
exhaled slowly. “You look
beautiful, Cynthia. I never
realized how much you favored your mother until now.”
A shy smile touched
Cynthia’s face as she resumed her trek down.
“The carriage is waiting
for me. I shall see you at the
church in a few moments time.” Kristin’s
eyes closed briefly and when she opened them a tear shimmered in the corner.
“I love you, Cynthia.”
“I love you, Mummy.”
Cynthia and Kristin embraced one final time.
When they parted Nathan walked Kristin out the doorway and helped her
into the carriage, his lips brushing hers as he handed her up.
Nathan retreated to the
doorway as the carriage pulled away then walked back inside to escort Cynthia
out as their ride pulled up.
“You are a breathtaking
bride, my dear. My godson is a very
lucky man.” Nathan said once they
were settled across from each other in the coach.
“I am the lucky one.”
“Cynthia… just before we
go, I wanted to speak to you a moment.” Nathan
hesitated for a second then forged on resolutely. “I wanted to tell you how honored I am that you asked me to
escort you down the aisle. I know
how much you loved your father and I would never try to take his place in your
affections but… over this last month… I loved you before I ever met you
because you were part of your mother and she loved you so much.
But getting to know you… I’ve come to love the real you as if you
were my own. I just want you to
know that I will always be there for you, no matter what.”
Cynthia fanned her face
furiously with one hand, her bouquet clenched in the other.
“You are going to make me cry again.”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to…”
“Nathan, you are such a
lovely lovely man. My father will
always hold a very special place in my heart but you’ve come to occupy a very
special place too. I am a very
lucky girl to be given the gift of two wonderful fathers.”
The carriage lurched to a
halt before Nathan could reply. He
swung the door open and stepped out then turned to lift Cynthia from the vehicle
to the stone path leading toward the chapel.
“Are you ready, my dear?”
“Yes, I am ready.
Let’s go… Dad.”
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
“The service was beautiful,
Lady Westphalen. The strength with
which both the bride and the groom spoke their vows… there was no hesitation
from either of them.”
“Thank you so much, Mrs.
Adams. But I am no longer Lady
Westphalen. My title now is simply
Mrs. Nathan Bridger and I couldn’t be happier.”
“Mr. Adams and I would like
to offer you our congratulations on your marriage as well. You were very naughty keeping your new husband a secret from
“Circumstances at the time made it easier for me to keep things quiet.
I didn’t intend to deceive anyone and we weren’t expecting Nathan to
be delayed over two months.”
“Of course not.
The delay was regretful but… the reason is understandable and the
outcome is greatly appreciated by the United States government.
No…” Catherine Adams hastily reassured Kristin.
“…it isn’t common knowledge by any means but my husband told me
about the captain’s bravery.”
Kristin turned away to stare
into the sea of couples dancing as she tried to compose her self.
“Captain Bridger was very brave,” she finally whispered.
“And he loves you very
much. That is obvious every time he
looks at you.”
“Mrs. Bridger, may I offer
my congratulations on your daughter’s marriage and on your own.”
Catherine Adams’ husband offered his hand as he joined the ladies.
“Thank you, Ambassador.”
“Would you mind terribly if
I spirited my wife away for a dance before we have to set out for the city?”
“Of course not.
We are so pleased that you could join us today.”
“We shall see you in the
city soon, shan’t we? Or do you
intend to remain in the country until your confinement is over?” Kristin smiled at Catherine Adams’ question, as John Adams
looked away, embarrassed at the mention of her condition.
“Actually this is goodbye
for a while. Captain Bridger and I
are departing the day after tomorrow for my estate in Cornwall.
From there we sail home to our island in the Caribbean in a weeks
The ambassador looked back,
shocked. “You are going to sail
in your present condition? Isn’t
“No more dangerous than
staying in England. Both the
captain and I feel that our child should be born on our island.”
“Admiral Noyce has been
give two months leave to return home for the holiday season. Surely you could wait two weeks and travel with your
Kristin shook her head.
“I thank you for your concern but we’ve already set our plans.
Captain Bridger and I, along with our dear friends, Bess and Raleigh
Young, are leaving next week. The
newlyweds will have a short honeymoon here on the estate while the Noyces return
to London for the Admiral to finish his work.
They will all meet in Cornwall in two weeks time to follow us.”
The ambassador would have
said more but his wife laid her hand in his.
“We wish you and the captain all the best, Mrs. Bridger, and we look
forward to meeting the newest member of the family when you return to London.”
With a final nod the
ambassador swept his wife into his arms and onto the dance floor.
“Hello, beautiful lady.”
Kristin turned to find a pair
of sapphire blue eyes staring back at her.
“Can you find it in your
heart to spare a dance for a lonely old seadog?”
“No, but I would love to
dance every dance with my handsome husband.
Have I mentioned how disgustingly gorgeous you look in your blue suit?
It makes your eyes even more vivid.”
“You are prejudiced, wife.
Don’t the children look wonderful dancing together?”
Cynthia and Will occupied the
center of the dance floor, each having eyes only for the other.
As far as they were concerned the room might have been empty.
“They are going to want to
leave very soon, you know.” Nathan whispered in Kristin’s ear. “And I can’t blame them.
I would like to leave, too.”
Kristin leaned back against
Nathan’s shoulder as he slipped his arms around her belly. “The carriage will be waiting at the front of the house in
about ten minutes. Once the bride
and groom depart the other guests will soon follow.”
“We should thank Lavinia
again for agreeing to house most of the overnight guests in the dowager
“You are right.
We wouldn’t have room for all of them here.
I also need to pen notes to our friends in the community that offered
their homes to guests as well.”
“Do you feel like dancing?
Would you rather sit down?”
Kristin pulled out of
Nathan’s embrace and took his hand, tugging him toward an arrangement of
plants in the corner. With a quick
glance back into the ballroom she pushed through the heavy covering of leaves,
dragging Nathan behind her. They
emerged into a small alcove.
“I wouldn’t have guessed
that this was here.” Nathan laughed as he looked around the tiny room, taking
note of the loveseat pushed against one end.
“We don’t normally cover
the entrance but mother thought that I might need a quiet place to rest for a
few minutes during the reception. In
here we have the privacy to dance without having to worry about keeping the
“That would be almost
impossible, anyway.” Nathan
observed as he gathered Kristin into his arms.
“Has the princess been behaving herself?”
“For the most part.
She started doing somersaults during the prayer and she has been kicking
up a storm since the music started. This
one is going to be a dancer.”
“Speaking of dancing…”
Nathan placed one hand on Kristin’s waist and held out the other. Kristin took the hand and Nathan twirled them gently around
the room in time with the music.
“Okay, princess, do you
think that you could curl up so I could hold mama a little tighter?” Nathan
told Kristin’s belly after several failed attempts to pull her closer.
“There isn’t much room in there for the baby to curl up. I am really
amazed at how big I am getting. I
must have conceived the very first time we…” she blushed and let the
“Trust me,” Nathan
murmured then turned Kristin in his arms so that her back was against his chest.
He laid one arm protectively over her stomach as they continued to sway
in time to the music. “I hope
that it was the first time that we both found pleasure and not the first time
“Our child was conceived in
love, Nathan, even if we hadn’t said the words we still felt them.”
Nathan’s free hand slid up
to cup Kristin’s breast, the swollen mound spilling over the curve of his
hands. “You are growing here as well.”
“I think that means that
your child will have a very healthy appetite.”
“No wet nurse?”
Kristin turned her head back
to glare at Nathan. “I didn’t
want one twenty-three years ago and I don’t intend to have one now.”
“I’m not complaining, my
love. I can’t imagine a more
perfect picture than you in a rocking chair, our child feeding here.” His
thumb slid across the dimpled fabric that covered an enflamed nipple.
“You shouldn’t do that here. Someone
“No one knows we are back
here. I find myself overcome with
the desire to kiss you, my wife. May
Kristin scanned the covering
of plants then pulled away from Nathan and beckoned him toward the small
lover’s bench. He sat then slid
into the slight covering that the tall leafy bush offered. As Kristin moved to
lower herself beside him he gently pulled her over until she was seated in his
“That’s much better,
isn’t it?” Nathan lifted his face up and Kristin lowered her lips to his.
“I love it when you kiss me
like that,” Kristin sighed as their lips parted.
“So soft and gentle, as if
you could go on kissing me for hours.”
“Very easily, my wife.
You have a very kissable mouth.” He
pulled her back in for another buss.
Kristin started and pulled
away when she felt her neckline loosen and slip but Nathan’s mouth simply slid
over her chin to her neck. “Not
here… we can’t.”
“I know, love.
I just want to touch you…” Kristin moaned as Nathan’s hand slid
beneath her gown and chemise to touch her bare skin.
Her nipple ruched tightly beneath his palm.
The sound of a clearing
throat pulled them apart. They
looked up to find Millicent standing in the midst of the palms.
Kristin blushed, her head
lowered as she tugged on Nathan’s wrist.
Once his initial shock had faded Nathan grinned at his mother-in-law and
saucily gave Kristin’s breast one last squeeze before pulling his hand out and
refastening the top of her gown.
Millicent simply raised her
eyebrows at the couple. “The
children are getting ready to leave. I
thought you might wish to see them off.”
“Of course, Mother.”
Kristin stammered as she tried to push her body up.
Nathan finally took pity on
Kristin and helped her up then joined her.
“Fix your bodice,
Kristin.” Millicent said in a mothering tone.
Kristin glanced down to see
that her breasts were threatening to spill over the neckline. She turned her back and quickly pushed them back into the
confines of the dress.
“And you…” Millicent
pointed her finger at Nathan’s face then slowly dropped it lower. “Reposition your coat.”
This time Nathan did blush as
he carefully pulled the edges of his jacket closed and smoothed the bottom down
over his trousers.
“Ready?” He murmured to
Kristin as she turned back around. With one last glance at her dress she nodded
and Nathan gestured for her to go first. Millicent
flicked her wrists at him, urging him to follow his wife.
“Yes, my daughter… you
are indeed a very lucky woman.” Millicent Westphalen smiled as she slipped
back through the palms.
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
Although Kristin was lying
completely still, Nathan knew that she was awake as soon as his eyes opened.
He pulled her tighter against him and buried his face in her hair.
“Is everything okay?”
“Fine,” Kristin cuddled
back into him. “The baby is just
restless… and I am as well.”
Nathan’s hands moved to
caress her belly, his fingers easily detecting the constant motion just beneath
the surface. “Settle down,” he
commanded his child. The motion
“Much better.” Kristin
sighted, her hands moving to join his.
“Now what can I do to make
mama fill better?”
“You are already doing it.
The touch of your hands soothes me as well.”
“Are you apprehensive about
leaving tomorrow morning? We could
always delay our departure or send for the seaQuest to sail to a closer port.”
“If I said that I was
looking forward to three days in a carriage I would be lying and you would know
that I was. But sending a message
and waiting for the ship could delay us by as much as a month. We don’t have that kind of time.”
“We can make the time.
Your comfort is paramount.”
“I know, darling.
But I know that our child is supposed to be born on our island.
I’ll survive the journey to Cornwall and then we will be on our way
home. Just make sure we have plenty
of extra pillows to support my back.”
“And I’ll support your
front.” Nathan’s hands slid up
to her bosom.
“Anytime, my love.
John has had three weeks since receiving our note from Ned so I am sure
that he has the seaQuest ready to sail by now.
We should be able to sail almost immediately.”
“You might want to spend a
few days at your house in Cornwall… you are sure to be tired after we
“I can rest anywhere just
as long as you are with me. I never
had any problem sleeping in your bed on the seaQuest… at least not after you
removed my corset that first night.”
“One of my more inspired
ideas, if I do say so myself. The
way that your chest sprang free when I pulled that damned contraption away… I
was afraid you would be able to see me sticking up over the edge of the
“I knew that you were…
that there was something between us… but I didn’t know it that early.
I thought you were toying with me until you gave me the books and saved
me from choking. But then you
kissed me the first time… and touched me so intimately.
I knew then that you did want me… at least physically.”
“I kissed you that day to
punish you for being so defiant. But
once I started I couldn’t stop… didn’t want to stop.
And you responded… you opened your mouth to me and I was lost.
If Crocker hadn’t interrupted us I might have taken you then and
Kristin rubbed his hand.
“I know. I wanted… I
didn’t really understand why but my body was on fire for you.
After you left I…” Kristin turned her head into the pillow, “…I
put my fingers where yours had been…”
“I know… I was
Had Nathan dreamed that his
simple admission would cause such a response he might never have made it.
Kristin pulled out of his grasp as she pushed up into a sitting position.
“You did WHAT?
Oh my… that’s why you had my fingers in your mouth… I didn’t know
Nathan quickly sat up beside
her. “Don’t be angry, love.
I kissed you to punish you but then I felt like a heel.
I also found out that I wanted more.
I wanted to taste you… to love you completely.
I was afraid that you would be furious with me so I sneaked a peek at you
through a knothole in my office to see if you had calmed down.
When I saw what you were doing… that I had caused that… I was both
ashamed and elated at the same time. I
could have given you your clothes at any time, you know.
I didn’t have to keep you practically naked in my bed.”
Kristin glared at her husband
through his explanation and beyond but when he gave her his best little boy grin
she couldn’t help but smile back. “I
can’t believe that you did that. What
else did you do accidentally on purpose?”
“I took advantage of the
situation to grope you, but you already know that.
I was also rather fond, and still am, of looking down your cleavage and
imagining…” Nathan’s hands lifted to cup the heavy globes, supporting them
as his head lowered and his tongue teased the dusky tips.
“Only if you keep doing
that…” Kristin fell back to the bed, her hands clutched in Nathan’s hair
pulling him with her as she went.
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
“You can still change your
mind, Kristin. This journey… in
your condition… Autumn has set in. The
carriage will be cold.” Millicent fussed over Kristin as she checked the
trunks in the front hall, waiting to be loaded on the coach.
“Nathan has piled so many
blankets and pillows in the carriage that I will be surprised if there is room
for me. He has the kitchen heating
at least a dozen bricks for my feet. And
if all else fails, my husband is very good at warming me up himself.”
“So I’ve noticed.”
Millicent observed wryly. “Why
can’t you stay here, Kristin?” She burst out all at once.
“I want to be with you when the baby comes.”
“Mummy,” Kristin paused
in her task and took her mother’s hand. “I
want you there as well but… I can’t explain it but I know that our baby is
supposed to be born on our island. We
have to go. We don’t have that
was obvious. “A letter will take
so long… and I will worry about you. Worry
that everything is all right. Wonder
if my new grandchild is a boy or a girl.”
Kristin grabbed both of her
mother’s hands. “Then don’t
wonder. Come to the island with
Bill and Janet and the children.”
“It makes sense, Mother.
You and father have nothing to tie you down.
The Wayfarer will have plenty of room for you.
Bring Lavinia as well. We’ll
have a fabulous family Christmas on the island.
The warmth would be good for your ankle.
I’ve seen the way that you flinch when you walk on damp days.
Why shouldn’t you spend the winter with us in a warmer climate?”
“I… I don’t know.
I would have to discuss it with your father.”
“Then do. You have two weeks at least.
That is enough time for you to make arrangements.”
“But you and Nathan are
still newlyweds… you can’t want your entire family descending on you en
“Christmas is for families.
Nathan’s home isn’t nearly as grand as yours but it is so wonderful,
all light and air. There are
several cottages on the island as well. You
and father could have privacy if you wanted it.
I know that Will and Cynthia will want one.
One of Nathan’s ships can bring you home any time you like.
Nathan…” Kristin called out as she sensed her husband approach.
“Come convince mummy to come to the island with the others.”
“We would love to have you
and Lord Westphalen come for the holidays.
I know that Kristin would like you there for the birth. Bess and I will help her but there must be something about
having your mother nearby.”
“Bess and… YOU?
You are going to be present during Kristin’s lying in?”
Millicent was shocked. “You
can’t be! It isn’t done!”
“Maybe not but Kristin
wants me there so I will be there.” Nathan brushed a kiss across Kristin’s
forehead. “I’d better see to
getting these trunks loaded.”
“You have certainly married
a most unconventional man, daughter.”
“I have indeed.
But don’t let Nathan fool you. He
wants to be there to see our baby born as much as I want him to be there.”
“As you say… Why don’t
you come sit in the parlour with me while the luggage is being loaded?”
“Actually I’d rather go
back to the breakfast room. The
baby is hungry again and we have Bess’ biscuits this morning.”
“I think that she and cook
have packed a rather large basket for you to take with you.”
“I hope so. Good morning, my son.” Kristin entered the room and smiled
to see Lucas digging in to a plate piled high with food. She crossed and kissed the top of his head.
“I was wondering if you were going to get up in time to say goodbye to
“Of course I was, Mama.
I was just grabbing a bite to eat while they load your dresses and
Kristin pulled out the chair
next to him and sat down, snatching a biscuit from Lucas’ plate as she did so.
“I am glad that you did. Now
you remember everything that your father and I spoke to you about last
“I will behave myself.
I will continue my lessons. I
will obey Admiral and Mrs. Noyce no matter what.
I will not drive Will and Cynthia to distraction with my teasing.”
“I have another one for
you.” Kristin glanced at her mother then continued.
“I want you to work on your grandfather. Try to convince him that he and mummy should come to the
island with you for a visit.”
“That would be great. I
could show grandfather the grotto and the volcano.
We could go fishing… and sailing…”
Millicent raised her eyebrows
at Kristin as Lucas droned on. “I
guess that we will be joining you for Christmas.”
“Speaking of Christmas…
Lucas, I thought that you might take some time while you are in the city to pick
up some Christmas gifts.”
Lucas stopped speaking and
eyed Kristin curiously. “For
who?” he finally asked, sure that his mother was trying to force him to shop.
“For Crocker and Tim… for
Miguel. You might even want to pick
up a few personal things. Something
nice for your grandfather perhaps? And
a certain young lady?”
The tips of Lucas’ ears
turned bright pink. “I could do
that for you, I guess.”
“I thought so.”
She reached into her bag and pulled out a small envelope.
“Just to make sure you have enough.”
Lucas shoved the money in his
pocket. “Thanks, Mama.”
“Do you need me to do any
shopping for you, Kristin? Even if
we don’t come I could send the items.”
“I’ve given Janet an
absolutely horrendous list of things that we will need for the baby.
I am sure that if you have the time she would appreciate your help in
purchasing the items.”
“I would be glad to
help.” Millicent agreed, making a mental note to look at the list and add
several more items to it. It was
her right as a grandparent after all.
“Good morning, everyone.”
Janet entered the room with a smile on her face.
“I gather that you must have packed a great deal of luggage, Kristin.
The language coming from the front of the house would make a sailor turn
Kristin rolled her eyes.
“I didn’t pack that much. Well…
maybe I did. But I have to have gowns to get me through the next few
months and then I will need gowns a little smaller to wear once the baby is
Janet simply smiled.
“Clarissa should be down in just a moment.
She wants to say good bye as well.”
“As do we.” Everyone turned to see Cynthia and Will standing in the
“Oh, Cynni!” Kristin was
beaming, as her daughter moved to hug her while Will did the same to his mother.
“Hey! Look who came out of
“Bill Noyce, you behave
yourself!” Janet chastised her husband as Bill clapped his hand on Will’s
shoulder and shook his hand vigorously. Nathan
stood close behind to take his place.
Amidst the rising chatter
Kristin pulled Cynthia to the corner of the room.
“How are you, my dear? Are
you happy? Is Will being good to
Cynthia blushed prettily.
“Will has been wonderful… so gentle and loving.” She glanced around
the room to make sure that no one was listening.
“It was fabulous, Mother… being so close to Will…
and your suggestion about the bathtub…” Cynthia stopped speaking as
shyness overcame her.
Kristin hugged her daughter
once more. “I’m so glad, Cynni.
And thank you for interrupting your honeymoon to come say goodbye.
I know that we will see each other in a few months but… I’m glad to
know before I leave that you are happy with your marriage.”
“Very happy, Mummy.
But Will and I wouldn’t have missed seeing you off.”
“I’m so glad that you
did. I am going to miss you.
We’ve never been apart before for any length of time and now this makes
twice in a year… but you are a married lady now.”
“So are you.” Cynthia
laughed. “You are my mother and
whether you are across the globe or in the next room, I love you and nothing
will ever change that.”
“No hiding in the corner
plotting against me.” Nathan pulled Cynthia into a hug as he joined them.
“How are you, my daughter? Do
I need to ask young Noyce to step outside?”
“Dad!” Cynthia once again
“Leave her alone,
“Yes, dear. The luggage is all loaded so we are ready to leave whenever
Kristin sighed, obviously not
looking forward to the long trip. Nathan
laid a hand on the small of her back and drew her to his side.
“You can still change your
mind. I won’t be angry if we stay
Kristin smiled, grateful for
her husband’s understanding. “No,
I’ve made my decision. We go.
Let’s say our final good-byes and let the children get back to their
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
Lionel kissed his daughter on
the cheek then embraced her. “Have
a good journey, Krissy,” he said.
“We will, Father,”
Kristin replied as she returned his embrace.
“Nathan will take care of me.”
Lionel smiled at her as he
pulled back. “I…” he grimaced
slightly. “I… I love you,
daughter,” Lionel said then inclined his head towards his son-in-law.
“He’s a good man.”
A large smile spread over
Kristin’s face. “Yes he is.”
“I was wrong… before…
the things I said to you the last time we were here… and since you’ve been
“Father… you’ve already
apologized,” Kristin told him.
“I know,” Lionel said.
“But I felt the need to do so again.
I wanted you to know… that I truly am sorry.”
“Thank you,” Kristin said
Lionel turned, knowing by the
look on his daughter’s face that Nathan was there.
“Are you all ready, my
lady?” Nathan asked.
“Absolutely, my rogue,”
“Nathan,” Lionel stuck
his hand out to the younger man. “Have
a safe journey.”
“Thank you, sir,” Nathan
replied as he shook his father-in-law’s hand.
“And you don’t even have to say it.
I will take very good care of her.”
Lionel nodded and grinned.
“I know you will.”
“You’ve said your
good-byes to your mother?” Nathan
“Yes,” Kristin and her
mother replied together then giggled.
“If we start to say
good-bye again,” Millicent began. “You
may never leave.”
Nathan grinned then grasped
Kristin’s elbow. As he led her to
the carriage, Lionel turned and walked down the driveway to the second carriage
that Raleigh and Bess would be riding in; the sheer number of extra pillows in
Nathan and Kristin’s carriage not allowing for more than two passengers.
“Mrs. Young,” Stonevale
began as he stepped up to the Youngs.
Bess turned. “Yes, your grace?”
“I was wondering if I might
have a word with you before you leave?”
“Of course,” Bess nodded.
“I…” Lionel stepped
closer and reached out to clasp her hand. “Please…
please look after my little girl.”
Bess covered his hand with
her free one as she nodded. “Rest
assured, Lord Stonevale,” she said. “I
will look after her as if she were my own child.
Your daughter’s made my boy happier than he’s ever been and that
means a lot to me. I’ve
come to love Miss Kristin dearly. She
is family and I always look after my family.”
Westphalen smiled then leaned
in and pressed a quick kiss to Bess’ weathered cheek.
“Thank you, Mrs. Young. You
have my eternal gratitude.”
“Anytime, your lordship,”
Bess returned his smile. “Anytime.”
Lionel nodded as he then
reached out to shake Raleigh’s hand. “It
was a pleasure to meet you both. Have
a safe and pleasant journey, and Godspeed.”
“Thank you,” Raleigh
returned the handshake. “It was a
pleasure to meet you and your wife as well.”
With a nod, Stonevale turned
and strolled over to his wife as Raleigh helped Bess into their carriage.
Lionel slipped his arm about Millicent’s waist.
“We’ll go for
Christmas,” he said in a gruff but quiet voice.
Millicent sniffled and buried
her face in his neck. “Thank
Mils…” Lionel nuzzled a kiss to her temple as they and the others waved and
watched the carriages move down the drive then eventually disappear.
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~