Dear God, a baby. What was she to do? She had to tell Turner; there was no getting around that. As much as she did not wish to use an innocent life to force a marriage that was obviously not fated to occur, how could she deny her child his birthright? But the thought of traveling to London was pure agony. And she was sick of chasing him and waiting for him and hoping and praying that maybe one day he'd come to love her. For once, he could bloody well come to her.
And he would, wouldn't he? He was a gentleman. He might not love her, but surely she had not misjudged him so completely. He would not shirk his duty.
Miranda smiled weakly to herself. So it had come to this. She was a duty. She would have him- after so many years of dreaming, she would actually be Lady Turner, but she would be nothing but a duty. She placed her hand on her belly. This should be a moment of joy, but instead all she wanted to do was cry.
A knock sounded on her bedroom door. Miranda looked up with a startled expression and didn't say anything.
"Miranda!" Olivia's voice was insistent. "Open the door. I can hear you crying."
Miranda took a deep breath and walked over to the door. It would not be easy to keep this a secret from Olivia, but she had to try. Olivia was intensely loyal, and she would never betray Miranda's trust, but still, Turner was her brother. There was no telling what Olivia would do. Miranda wouldn't put it past her to put a pistol to his back and march him north herself.
Miranda took a quick look in the mirror before heading to the door. Her tears she could wipe away, but she would have to blame her red-rimmed eyes on the summer garden. She took a few deep breaths, and then pasted on the brightest smile she was able and answered the door.
She did not fool Olivia for a minute.
"Good heavens, Miranda," she said, rushing to put her arms around her. "Whatever has happened to you?"
"I'm well," Miranda assured her. "My eyes always itch this time of year."
Olivia stood back, regarded her for a moment, then kicked the door shut. "But you are so pale."
Miranda's stomach began to churn, and she swallowed convulsively. "I think I've caught some sort of…" She waved her hand in the air, hoping that would finish her sentence for her. "Perhaps I should sit down."
"It couldn't have been something you ate," Olivia said, helping her to her bed. "You hardly touched your food yesterday, and in any case, I had everything you did and more." She nudged Miranda forward on the bed while she fluffed the pillows. "And I feel as fine as ever."
"Probably a head cold," Miranda mumbled. "You should probably return to London without me. I wouldn't wish for you to fall sick as well."
"Nonsense. I can't leave you alone like this."
"I'm not alone. My father is here."
Olivia gave her a look. "You know I would never wish to disparage your father, but I hardly think he knows what to do with an invalid. Half the time, I'm not even sure he remembers we are here."
Miranda closed her eyes and sank into the pillows. Olivia was right, of course. She adored her father, but truly, when it came to matters that involved actually interacting with another human being, he was fairly well hopeless.
Olivia perched on the edge of the bed, the mattress sighing with her weight. Miranda tried to ignore her, tried to pretend that she didn't know, even with her eyes closed, that Olivia was staring at her, just waiting for her to acknowledge her presence.
"Please tell me what is wrong, Miranda," Olivia said softly. "Is it your father?"
Miranda shook her head, but just at that moment Olivia shifted her weight. The mattress rocked beneath them, rather like the movement of a boat, and although Miranda had never been seasick a day in her life, her stomach began to churn, and it suddenly became imperative-
Miranda leaped from the bed, knocking Olivia to the floor. She reached the chamber pot just in time.
"Good gracious," Olivia said, keeping a respectful- and self-preservational- distance. "How long have you been like this?"
Miranda declined to answer. But her stomach heaved in reply.
Olivia took a step back. "Er, is there anything I can do?"
Miranda shook her head, thankful her hair was neatly pulled back.
Olivia watched for another few moments, then went over to the basin and wet a cloth. "Here you are," she said, holding it forward, her arm entirely outstretched.
Miranda took it gratefully. "Thank you," she whispered, wiping her face.
"I don't think this is a head cold," Olivia said.
Miranda shook her head.
"I'm quite certain the fish last night was perfectly good, and I can't imagine- "
Miranda did not have to see Olivia's face to interpret her gasp. She knew. She might not yet quite believe it, but she knew.
Miranda remained frozen in place, hanging pathetically over the chamber pot.
"Are you- did you-?"
Miranda swallowed convulsively. And she nodded.
"Oh, my. Oh, my. Oh oh oh oh oh…"
It was perhaps the first time in her life that Miranda had heard Olivia at a complete loss for words. Miranda finished wiping her mouth, and then, her stomach finally at a somewhat even keel, moved away from the chamber pot and sat up a little straighter.
Olivia was still staring at her as if she'd seen an apparition. "How?" she finally asked.
"The usual way," Miranda retorted. "I assure you, there is no cause to alert the Church."
"I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry," Olivia said hurriedly. "I didn't mean to upset you. It's just that…well…you must know…well…this is just such a surprise ."
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