"Better than most" might mean only that they spoke to each other at least once a day. Yes, they might have a good marriage. Good, but empty. She didn't think she could bear living with him without his love. She shook her head.

"Damn it, Miranda! You have to marry me!" When she didn't acknowledge his outburst, he yelled, "For the love of God, woman, you're carrying my child!"

And there it was. She'd known that had to be the reason he'd traveled so far, and with such single-minded purpose. And as much as she appreciated his sense of honor- belated though it might have been- there was no getting around the fact that the baby was gone. She had bled, and then her appetite had returned, and her chamber pot had gone back to its regular manner of use.

Her mother had told her about this, had said that she had gone through exactly the same thing twice before Miranda and three times after. It had been, perhaps, an indelicate subject for a young woman not even out of the schoolroom, but Lady Cheever had known that she was dying, and she had wished to pass along to her daughter as much womanly knowledge as she could. She had told Miranda not to mourn if the same should happen to her, that she had always felt that those lost babes were never meant to be.

Miranda wet her lips and swallowed. And then, in a low, solemn voice, she said, "I'm not carrying your child. I was, but I'm not any longer."

Turner said nothing. And then: "I don't believe you."

Miranda stood stunned. "I beg your pardon."

He shrugged. "I don't believe you. Olivia told me you were pregnant."

"I was , when Olivia was here."

"How do I know you're not simply trying to be rid of me?"

"Because I'm not an idiot ," she snapped. "Do you think I'd refuse to wed you if I were carrying your child?"

He seemed to consider that for a moment, and then he crossed his arms. "Well, you're still compromised, and you're still marrying me."

"No," she said derisively, "I'm not."

"Oh, you will," he said, his eyes glittering ruthlessly. "You just don't know it yet."

She backed away from him. "I don't see how you're going to force me."

He took a step forward. "I don't see how you're going to stop me."

"I'll yell for MacDownes."

"I don't think you will."

"I will. I swear it." She opened her mouth and then looked sideways at him to see if he caught her warning.

"Go ahead," he said, shrugging casually. "He won't catch me off guard this time."

"Mac- "

He clamped his hand on her mouth with stunning speed. "You little fool. Aside from the fact that I have no wish for your aging pugilistic butler to interrupt my privacy, did you stop to consider that his barging in here will only hasten our marriage? You wouldn't want to get caught in a compromising position, would you?"

Miranda grumbled something against his hand and then punched him in the hip until he removed it. But she did not call out for MacDownes again. Much as she was loath to admit it, he had a point. "Why didn't you just let me yell, then?" she taunted. "Hmmm? Isn't marriage what you want?"

"Yes, but I thought you might prefer to enter into it with a little dignity."

Miranda had no ready response, so she crossed her arms.

"Now I want you to listen to me," he said in a low voice, taking her chin in his hand and forcing her to look at him. "And listen carefully, because I'm only going to say this once. You are going to marry me before the week is out. Since you have conveniently run off to Scotland, we don't need a special license. You're just lucky I don't haul you off to a church right this instant. Get yourself a dress and get yourself some flowers, because, sweetheart, you're getting yourself a new name."

She shot him a scathing glare, unable to think of any words to sufficiently express her fury.

"And don't even think about running off again," he said lazily. "For your information, I have rented rooms just two doors down and have arranged for surveillance on this house twenty-four hours a day. You won't make it to the end of the street."

"My God," she breathed. "You've gone mad."

He laughed at that. "Consider that statement if you will. If I brought ten people in here and explained that I had taken your virginity, asked you to marry me, and you refused, who do you think they would think is mad?"

She was fuming so badly, she thought she might explode.

"Not me!" he said brightly. "Now buck up, puss, and look on the bright side. We shall make more babies and have a splendid time doing so, I promise never to beat you or forbid you to do anything that is not utterly foolish, and you'll finally be sisters with Olivia. What more could you want?"

Love . But she couldn't voice the word.

"All in all, Miranda, you could be in a far worse position."

She still didn't say anything.

"Many women would be thrilled to change places with you."

She wondered if there was any way to wipe the smug expression off his face without doing him permanent harm.

He leaned forward suggestively. "And I can promise you I shall be very, very attentive to your needs."

She clasped her hands behind her back because they were starting to shake with frustration and rage.

"You'll thank me for this someday."

And that was it . "Aaaaargh!" she yelled incoherently, launching herself onto him.

"What on earth?" Turner twisted around, trying to get her and her pummeling fists off him.

"Don't you ever- ever say, 'You'll thank me for this someday' again! Do you hear me! Ever!"


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