* * *
“You and I need to have a talk,” he said quietly, too afraid that if he spoke any louder that he would lose what little control he had and start yelling.

He still couldn’t believe what a bitch she’d turned into. She’d certainly fooled him into believing that she’d grown into a kind woman. Over the past month he’d seen her be kind to servants, children, and even beggars on the street. She treated everyone with a sweet smile and a kind disposition, but now he had to wonder how he ever fell for such a farce.

Only a heartless bitch would allow her child to be labeled a bastard when the father was more than willing to give it the protection of his name. He knew only too well how society looked down upon bastards, how they were treated like lepers. He’d attended school with several boys, who’d had the misfortune of having been born in that unfortunate set of circumstances.

It hadn’t mattered who the boys’ fathers had been, how intelligent they were, how funny they’d been or how good they’d been at sports, they were all treated like garbage. They were teased, taunted and constantly reminded that they didn’t belong. Their prospects in life were severely limited because of their status, guaranteeing them that they would never find a way into a life that should have been theirs.

They were outcasts, not good enough for the class that they should have been born into and too good for the class that they’d been trapped in. They’d have trouble getting work, being respected or simply marrying. They didn’t fit in anywhere and that knowledge would follow them to their graves. The fact that Elizabeth had been willing to place their child in that life infuriated him to the point that even looking at her sickened him.

Once the small ceremony had finished he’d simply walked away from her, too afraid of what he might do if he stayed. He’d never hit her. He’d never hit a woman before and had no plans on doing it now, but he had been very much afraid of saying something that he’d eventually regret. As much as he hated her right now, and by God did he hate her, she was still the mother of his child. For their child he planned on showing her respect, but that was simply it.

She was nothing more than the woman that he was now trapped with. She was his wife and he would see that she had a roof over her head, food in her stomach and clothing on her back, but that was all. They were leaving as soon as he was certain that the scandal that their hasty marriage had created died down enough that it wouldn’t affect their child if he or she ever decided to return to England.

He planned on taking her when he left the country. He’d keep her in the room furthest away from his so that he didn’t have to see her every morning. As long as she stayed out of his way and brought his child into this world, she could do whatever the hell she wanted after that. She could return to England after she had the child and he wouldn’t give a damn. Hell, at this point he didn’t even care if she raised their child. He’d happily hire a nanny if that’s what needed to be done.

At least now he knew the motivation behind her cruelty. He hadn’t when he’d walked out after the ceremony, but upon his return a somber Lord Norwood had been waiting for him in the library to explain Elizabeth’s inheritance and dowry. When Lord Norwood finished explaining everything and left him with a stack of papers to go through, his anger had intensified to a very dangerous degree.

Elizabeth had been more than willing to condemn their child as a bastard for a very large inheritance that awaited her on her next birthday. She would have been a very rich woman, and she probably thought that her money alone would have given their child all the protection that it needed, but it wouldn’t have. Society loved to look down on its inferiors and no amount of money would have been able to stop that for their child or for Elizabeth.

It had made him wonder if she even planned to keep the child. Did she already have plans to have a surgeon rid her body of the child or was she planning on abandoning the baby as soon as it was born? He’d forced those questions from his mind, too afraid that he’d end up killing someone in a fit of rage.

Never in his life had he been this furious. The only thing that had managed to calm him down and even put a smile on his face was the fact that Elizabeth would never see a single quid of that money. She would never enjoy the luxurious life that she desired, because she’d married him.

The fact that she had no idea yet that she’d lost everything brought him such joy. As her husband, everything that she had was now his and she probably assumed that she’d be able to manipulate him with her sweet smiles and passions in the bedroom to gain what she wanted.

She would be wrong.

Not only would he never fall for her sweet act again, but his wealth hadn’t changed since this morning. If she had married his brother or the Marquis in a proper wedding, then she would have indeed become a very rich woman by the end of the ceremony. Then again, if she had succeeded in leaving before anyone had discovered that she was with child, she would have been able to enjoy her newfound wealth. That is, until it was learned that she’d had a child out of wedlock. Then everything that she’d gained would have simply been taken from her.

The stipulations were very clear in her godmother’s will. Of course, he’d be willing to bet everything that he had that Elizabeth wasn’t aware of the conditions of the will, otherwise she would have never allowed him to touch her that night in the orangery.

Elizabeth’s godmother had certainly cared for her, that much was clear, but she’d also been a stickler for the proprieties of society and had expected her beautiful goddaughter to marry well. At the very least, she’d expected her goddaughter to remain chaste for the rest of her life.

The expectations had been very clear, in order for Elizabeth to gain control of her inheritance she needed to either marry well or remain a virgin. She hadn’t done either. His father might be an Earl, but Robert was only the second son, not very likely to gain the title since James would probably be married within the year with a babe on the way soon after that. That night in the orangery had sealed her fate. By allowing him to take her into his arms, she’d lost her inheritance.

He’d actually considered waiting until tomorrow and allowing her father to explain the situation, but where would the justice in that be? He deserved something for the hell that she’d put him through and he fully intended to collect his reward.

“Please just leave, Robert,” she said quietly as she hugged her knees to her chest.

“And abandon my beautiful wife on our wedding night?” he asked with mock indignation as he picked up a chair and brought it over so that he could sit right in front of the bathtub.

With a sigh of anticipation, he sat down in the chair, leaned back with his arms folded over his chest and his legs stretched out in front of him. Was it wrong that he was planning on enjoying her downfall? Probably, but he didn’t care. She’d brought this on herself and he was going to enjoy every last minute of it.

“Just……just leave,” she whispered, not bothering to look up at him, but that was fine with him as long as he had a front row seat to her downfall.

He’d never before been purposely cruel to a woman. It just went to prove that Elizabeth brought out the worst in him. At least he had a lifetime of revenge to look forward to, he decided as he thought over the best way to break the news to her.