“Well,” the surgeon said, clearing his throat and shifting uncomfortably, no doubt well acquainted with Robert’s reputation, “as I’m sure you know, your wife lost the child.”

“And how is my wife?” he asked, praying that she was going to be okay after this.

“She is very upset, Mr. Bradford, but with rest, food and time, I believe that she will make a full recovery and should be able to have more children.”

Robert nodded as he sighed with relief. She would be okay. That’s all that mattered to him. Well, there was one more thing that he had to know.

“Do you know what caused her to lose the baby?” he asked, needing his fault in the matter confirmed.

“I believe dehydration and the fact that she couldn’t keep anything down was the cause of this,” the surgeon said on a weary sigh as he picked up his bag. “From what I understand, she thought that stress was the cause of everything, and once she realized that she was with child, she became overwhelmed and didn’t know what to do, Mr. Bradford,” he said with a sympathetic smile. “The next time, I don’t believe that she’ll hesitate in asking for help. Good day, sir.”

“Thank you,” he murmured, returning his attention back to his sleeping wife.

He didn’t know what to make of what the surgeon said, but he knew one thing, he was going to take better care of his wife from this moment on.

Chapter 23

Two weeks later…..

“Please, stop.”

“But, you need to eat,” Robert stubbornly explained as he scooped up another spoonful of that dreadful broth that he’d practically been pouring down her throat since she woke up two weeks ago. “The surgeon was very adamant about this in fact.”

“Yes, but can’t I-” Her words were cut off when he took advantage and shoved the spoon in her mouth.

“You need to build up your strength,” he said with a firm nod as he placed the vile broth concoction back on the table and picked up the cup of equally vile tea and tried to make her drink it.

“No,” she said, turning her head away.

“Elizabeth,” he said in clear exasperation, “this will help you. Now drink.”

“No!” she stubbornly said, turning her face into the pillow and pressing her lips together in silent protest.

He sighed heavily as he attempted to cup her chin gently between his fingers and force her to turn towards him so that he could pour that awful tea down her throat again, but after two weeks straight of drinking that putrid concoction, she was done.

“Elizabeth,” he said in exasperation, “you have to drink this.”

“No,” she bit out quickly before she closed her lips up tightly once again.

“It will make you stronger,” he patiently explained as he made another attempt.

“No, it will make me gag!” she managed to get out before he could bring the cup to her lips.

“Drink it quickly and you won’t taste a thing,” he lied, again, as he brought the cup to her lips, but she wasn’t having it. She pressed a hand over her mouth, creating a protective barrier against the disgusting liquid.

His eyes narrowed on the action as he placed the cup down on the table. “You’re only making this harder on yourself,” he said, reaching over and pulling her hand away from her mouth.

With narrowed eyes, she quickly replaced it with her other hand. When he pulled the hand away, she did it again until he was forced to grab both her hands, with a frustrated growl, and pinned them against the mattress. His smile was smug until he realized that with both of his hands pinning hers, he couldn’t pick up the cup and force her to drink.

“You’re being stubborn,” he accused with a sullen glare.

“So are you!” she snapped back.

“You need it!”

“No, I don’t!” she shot back, because she really didn’t need it. It was turning her stomach and no matter how much he was able to get down her throat, it did nothing to ease her hunger. She was in fact, starving.

It actually surprised her that she could think about food after….

After losing the baby.

When she realized that she’d lost their child, she wanted nothing more than to follow after it. The pain of losing a child was something that she never wanted to experience again. At the time she’d hated the doctor for it, but she was glad that he’d given her medicine to make her sleep.  It had given her a short break from the heartache.

Unfortunately as soon as she had opened her eyes and memories from the night before came back, she had broken down and started crying uncontrollably. It had frightened the poor maid that had been stationed in her room to oversee her recovery. Her loud sobs had also startled Robert, who’d apparently passed out in a chair next to the bed, awake.

As soon as he realized that she was awake, he was on the bed and pulling her into his arms instead of yelling at her as she’d expected. He’d rubbed her back, kissed her forehead and said soothing words to her as she’d mourned the loss of their baby. When Robert realized that the maid tasked with helping her recover was only standing there, gawking at them, he’d sent her fleeing from the room.

From that point on, he refused to allow anyone else to care for her. He turned away every maid that tried. The only thing that he allowed them to do was to bring up the awful tea and broth that he force-fed her or hot water so that she could soak in the tub. When he wasn’t trying to poison her, he was reading to her, holding her, sitting by her side while she slept, or holding her tightly when she couldn’t bear the loss of their child anymore and broke down into sobs.

Neither one of them had mentioned the baby, their wedding, the argument they had that night or a hundred other things that they should probably discuss. Instead, he was simply there for her and it made her love him even more.

She’d never expected this level of consideration from her husband. When she’d been a child, she’d fantasized about her own Prince Charming, but even that fantasy hadn’t been as perfect as Robert had been to her over the last two weeks. Men, husbands, didn’t do things like this for their wives. Her father certainly never did this for her mother and Anthony, who she knew loved and adored her sister, never did this sort of thing for Mary. He would visit with her and hold her in his arms when she needed comfort, but Anthony had never devoted every single minute of the day to Mary’s care and wellbeing.  It made her feel cherished and helped her through the most painful loss of her life.

“Half a cup, that’s all you have to drink,” he said soothingly as he released her hands and picked up the cup. “Come on, just a few sips.”

She let out an indelicate snort at that as she shook her head. “Not happening, Robert.”

“Elizabeth, it’s good for you,” he said, giving her a smile that did funny things to her stomach.

“Then you drink it,” she said stubbornly, refusing to be swayed by a charming smile.

With a roll of his eyes and a muttered comment about her being a big baby, he brought the cup to his lips and took a long sip that he quickly spit back into the cup.

“What the hell is in that?” he demanded in outrage as he placed the offending cup on the table. He wiped frantically at his mouth to erase the taste and when that didn’t help, he grabbed the vase by her bed, yanked the flowers out of it and tipped it back, drinking every last drop. When he placed the empty vase by the bed, he was still cringing at the bitter aftertaste left in his mouth.