"I think she kicked!" he would exclaim excitedly.
"It was probably a burp," Miranda had teased him once.
Turner completely missed her humor and raised his head, concern clouding his eyes. "Can they burp in there? Is it normal?"
She let out a soft, indulgent laugh. "I don't know."
"Perhaps I ought to ask the physician."
She took his hand and pulled him up until he was lying by her side. "I'm sure everything is just fine."
"If you send for the physician, he is going to think you're insane."
"Let's just go to sleep. That's it, hold me. Tighter." She sighed and snuggled up next to him. "There. I can sleep now."
Back in the study, Miranda smiled as she remembered the interchange. A hundred times a day he did similar things, showing her how much he loved her. Didn't he? How could he look at her so tenderly and not love her? Why was she so unsure of his feelings?
Because he never voiced them aloud, she retorted silently. Oh, he complimented her and frequently made comments about how glad he was that he had married her.
It was the most pinpointedly cruel sort of torture, and he had no idea he was committing it. He thought he was being kind and attentive, and he was .
But every time he looked at her, and he smiled in that warm and secret way of his, and she thought- for one breathless second she thought he would lean forward and whisper-
I love you .
– and then every time, when it didn't happen, and he just brushed his lips by her cheek, or tousled her hair, or asked her if she'd enjoyed her bloody pudding, for heaven's sake-
She felt something inside crumpling. A little squeeze, making just a little crease, but all those folds on her heart were adding up, and every day, it seemed a little harder to pretend that her life was precisely how she wished it.
She tried to be patient. The last thing she wanted from him was falsehood. I love you was devastating when there wasn't any feeling behind it.
But she didn't want to think about this. Not right now, not when he was being so sweet and attentive, and she should have been utterly and completely happy.
And she was. Truly. Almost. It was only one tiny little piece of her that kept pushing it way to the fore, and it was getting annoying, really, because she didn't want to waste all her thought and energy thinking about something over which she had no control.
She just wanted to live in the moment, to enjoy her many blessings without having to think about it.
Turner made a timely entrance, striding back into the room and dropping a gentle kiss on the top of her head. "Mrs. Hingham says she'll send up a plate of food in a few minutes."
"I told you you shouldn't have bothered to go down," Miranda scolded. "I knew that nothing would be ready."
"If I hadn't gone down myself," he said in a matter-of-fact tone, "I would have had to wait for a maid to come and see what I wanted, then I would have had to wait for her to go down to the kitchens, then I would have had to wait while Mrs. Hingham prepared our food, then- "
Miranda held her hand up. "Enough! I see your point."
"It will arrive more quickly this way." He leaned forward with a devilish grin. "I'm not a patient person."
Neither was she, Miranda thought ruefully.
But her husband, oblivious to her stormy thoughts, merely smiled as he gazed out the window. A light dusting of snow covered the trees.
A footman and a maid slipped into the room, bringing food and setting it up on Turner's desk.
"Aren't you worried about your papers?" Miranda asked.
"They'll be fine." He shoved them all into a pile.
"But won't they get mixed up?"
He shrugged. "I'm hungry. That's more important. You're more important."
The maid let out a little sigh at his romantic words. Miranda smiled tightly. The household staff probably thought he professed his love to her whenever they were out of earshot.
"Now then," Turner said briskly. "Here is some beef and vegetable stew, puss. I want you to eat every bite."
Miranda looked dubiously at the tureen he'd set in front of her. It would take a small army of pregnant women to finish it all. "You're joking," she said.
"Not at all." He dipped the spoon into the stew and held it up in front of her mouth.
"Really, Turner, I can't- "
He darted the spoon into her mouth.
She choked in surprise for a second, then chewed and swallowed. "I can feed myself."
"But this is much more fun."
"For you, perha- "
In went the spoon again.
Miranda swallowed. "This is ridiculous."
"Not at all."
"Is this some way to teach me not to talk so much?"
"No, although I missed a great opportunity with that last sentence."
"Turner, you're incorr- "
Got her again. "Incorrigible?"
"Yes," she spluttered.
"Oh, dear," he said. "You got a bit on your chin."
"You're the one wielding the spoon."
"Sit still." He leaned forward and licked a drop of sauce off her skin. "Mmm, delicious."
"Have some," she deadpanned. "There's plenty."
"Oh, but I wouldn't want to deprive you of valuable nutrients."
She snorted in response.
"Here is another bite- oh, dear, I seem to have missed your mouth again." His tongue flicked out and cleaned up the mess.
"You did that deliberately!" she accused.
"And purposefully waste food that could be feeding my pregnant wife?" He placed one affronted hand on his chest. "What a cur you must think me."
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