The baby began to fidget and after a few moments let out a lusty wail. "Oh, dear," Turner muttered, completely at a loss. He picked her up and cradled her against his shoulder, taking great care to support her head as he had seen his mother do. "There, there, now. Shhh. Be quiet now. That's right."

His entreaties obviously weren't working because she bellowed in his ear.

A knock sounded on the door, and Lady Rudland looked inside. "Do you want me to take her, Turner?"

He shook his head, loath to part with his daughter.

"I think she's hungry, Turner. The wet nurse is in the next room."

"Oh. Of course." He looked vaguely embarrassed as he handed the baby to his mother. "Here you are."

He was alone again with Miranda. She hadn't moved at all during his vigil, save for the shallow rise and fall of her chest. "It's morning, Miranda," he said, taking her hand in his again and trying to cajole her into consciousness. "Time to wake up. Will you? If not for yourself, then for me. I'm frightfully tired, but you know I can't go to sleep until you wake up."

But she did not move. She did not turn in her sleep, and she did not snore, and she was terrifying him. "Miranda," he said, hearing the panic in his voice, "this is enough. Do you hear me? It's enough. You need to- "

He broke off, unable to go on any longer. He gave her hand a squeeze and looked away. Tears blurred his vision. How was he going to go on without her? How would he raise their daughter all on his own? How would he even know what to name her? And worst of all, how could he live with himself if she died without ever hearing him say that he loved her?

With fresh determination, he wiped away his tears and turned back to her. "I love you, Miranda," he said loudly, hoping that he could penetrate her haze, even if she never woke up. His voice grew urgent. "I love you. You. Not what you do for me or the way you make me feel. Just you."

A slight sound escaped her lips, so soft that Turner initially thought he had imagined it. "Did you say something?" His eyes searched her face frantically, looking for any sign of movement. Her lips quivered again, and his heart leaped with joy. "What was that, Miranda? Please, just say it once again. I didn't hear you the first time." He put his ear down to her lips.

Her voice was weak, but the word came through loud and clear: "Good."

Turner began to laugh. He couldn't help it. How like Miranda to have a smart mouth while on her supposed deathbed. "You're going to be all right, aren't you?"

Her chin moved only a fraction of an inch, but it was definitely a nod.

Wild with happiness and relief, he ran to the door and yelled out the good news for the rest of the house to hear. Not surprisingly, his mother, Olivia, and much of the household staff came running into the hall.

"She's all right," he gasped, not even caring that his face was wet with tears. "She's all right."

"Turner." The word came like a croak from the bed.

"What is it, my love?" He rushed to her side.

"Caroline," she said softly, using all her strength to curve her lips into a smile. "Call her Caroline."

He lifted her hand to his in a courtly kiss. "Caroline it is. You gave me a perfect little girl."

"You always get what you want," she whispered.

He gazed down at her lovingly, suddenly realizing the extent of the miracle that had brought her back from the dead. "Yes," he said hoarsely. "It seems that I do."

* * *
A few days later, Miranda was feeling much improved. At her request, she had been moved to the bedroom she and Turner had shared during the first months of their marriage. The surroundings comforted her, and she wanted to show her husband that she wanted a real marriage. They belonged together. It was that simple.

She was still confined to her bed, but she'd regained much of her strength, and her cheeks were tinged with a healthy pink glow. Although that might just have been love. Miranda had never felt so much of it before. Turner couldn't seem to say two sentences without blurting it out, and Caroline brought out such love in both of them, it was indescribable.

Olivia and Lady Rudland fussed over her, too, but Turner tried to keep their interference at a minimum, wanting his wife wholly to himself. He was sitting by her side one day as she woke up from a nap.

"Good afternoon," he murmured.

"Afternoon? Is it really?" She let out a giant yawn.

"Past noon, at least."

"Goodness. I've never felt this lazy before."

"You deserve it," he assured her, his blue eyes glowing warm with love. "Every minute of it."

"How is the baby?"

Turner smiled. She managed to ask that question within the first minute of any conversation. "Very well. She's got quite a set of lungs, I must say."

"She's very sweet, isn't she?"

He nodded. "Just like her mother."

"Oh, I'm not so sweet."

He dropped a kiss on her nose. "Under that temper of yours, you're very sweet. Trust me. I've tasted you."

She blushed. "You're incorrigible."

"I'm happy ," he corrected. "Really, truly, happy."


He looked down at her intently, hearing the hesitation in her voice. "What, my love?"

"What happened?"

"I'm not sure I understand what you mean."

She opened her mouth and then closed it, obviously trying to find the right words. "Why did you…suddenly realize…"

"That I loved you?"

She nodded mutely.


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