I think I am asleep.

Chapter 20

The doctor managed to staunch the bleeding, but he was shaking his head as he washed his hands. "She's lost a lot of blood," he said grimly. "She's going to be weak."

"But she'll pull through?" Turner asked anxiously.

Dr. Winters raised his shoulders in a melancholy shrug. "We can only hope."

Not liking that answer, Turner pushed past the doctor and sat down in a chair by his wife's bed. He picked up her limp hand and held it in his. "She'll pull through," he said hoarsely. "She has to."

Lady Rudland cleared her throat. "Dr. Winters, do you have any idea what caused all of the bleeding?"

"It could be a tear in the uterus. Probably from when the afterbirth pulled away."

"Is this a common occurrence?"

The doctor nodded. "I'm afraid I must go. There is another woman in the area who is expecting, and I need to get some sleep if I'm to attend to her properly."

"But Miranda…" Lady Rudland's words trailed off as she looked at her daughter-in-law with dismay and fear.

"There is nothing more I can do for her. We must only hope and pray that her body heals the tear, and she does not bleed again."

"And if she does?" Turner asked flatly.

"If she does, press clean bandages up against her as I did. And send for me."

"And if we did, is there any chance in hell that you could get here in time?" Turner asked caustically, grief and terror ripping away all politeness.

The doctor chose not to reply. He nodded his head. "Lady Rudland. Lord Turner."

As the door closed, Lady Rudland crossed the room to her son's side. "Turner," she said soothingly. "You should get some rest. You've been up all night."

"So have you."

"Yes, but I…" Her words trailed off. If her husband were dying, she'd want to be with him. She dropped a kiss on the top of Turner's head. "I'll leave you alone with her."

He spun around, his eyes flashing dangerously. "Damn it all, Mother! I am not here to say my final good-byes. There is no need to talk like she is dying."

"Of course not." But her eyes, filled with pity and grief, told a different story. She quietly left the room.

Turner stared down at Miranda's pale face, a muscle working spasmodically in his throat. "I should have told you that I love you," he said hoarsely. "I should have told you. It's all you wanted to hear, wasn't it? And I was too stupid to realize it. I think I've loved you all along, sweetheart. All along. Every since that day in the carriage when you finally told me that you loved me. I was- "

He stopped, thinking he'd seen movement in her face. But it was just his own shadow, moving along her skin as he rocked back and forth.

"I was just so surprised," he said, once he found his voice again. "So surprised that someone could love me and not want any sort of power over me. So surprised that you could love me and not want to change me. And I…I didn't think I could love anymore. But I was wrong!" His hands flexed jerkily, and he had to resist the urge to take her by the shoulders and shake. "I was wrong, damn it, and it wasn't your fault. It wasn't your fault, puss. It was mine. Or maybe Leticia's, but definitely not yours."

He picked up her hand again and brought it to his lips. "It was never your fault, puss," he said entreatingly. "So come back to me. Please. I swear, you're scaring me. You don't want to scare me, do you? I assure you, it's not a pretty sight."

There was no response. He wished she'd cough, or restlessly shift position, or anything. But she just lay there, so still, so unmoving that a moment of sheer terror descended on him and he frantically turned her hand over to feel for her pulse on the inside of her wrist. Turner sighed in relief. It was there. It was soft, but it was there.

He let out a weary yawn. He was exhausted, and his eyelids were drooping, but he could not let himself sleep. He needed to be with her. He needed to see her, to hear her breathe, to simply watch the way the light played across her skin.

"It's too dark," he muttered, getting to his feet. "It's like a goddamned morgue in here. He searched the room, shuffling through drawers and closets until he found some more candles. He quickly lit them all and shoved them into holders. It was still too dark. He strode to the door, flung it open, and yelled out, "Brearley! Mother! Olivia!"

Eight people immediately answered his summons, all fearing the worst.

"I need more candles," Turner said, his voice belying his terror and exhaustion. A few maids immediately scurried off.

"But it's already so bright in here," Olivia said, poking her head into the room. Her breath caught when she saw Miranda, her best friend since infancy, lying so still. "Is she going to be all right?" she whispered.

"She's going to be just fine," Turner snapped. "Provided that we can get some light in here."

Olivia cleared her throat. "I should like to go in and say something to her."

"She isn't going to die!" Turner exploded. "Do you hear me? She isn't going to die. There is no need to talk that way. You don't have to say good-bye."

"But if she did," Olivia persisted, tears rolling down her cheeks. "I should feel- "

Turner's control snapped, and he shoved his sister up against the wall. "She isn't going to die," he said in a low, deadly voice. "I would appreciate it if you would stop acting otherwise."

Olivia nodded jerkily.

Turner suddenly let her go and then stared at his hands as if they were foreign objects. "My God," he said raggedly. "What is happening to me?"


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