“Good,” she said with a nod as she threw the covers off and shifted her legs to the edge of the bed. “Now maybe I can get some real food.”

“The doctor said that you had to stay in bed for at least another week,” Robert pointed out as he moved to help her back in bed.

“Was it the same doctor that said I had to drink the tea?” she asked, relieved when he stepped back with a sigh and held out his hand to help her to her feet.

“It’s well past midnight. I don’t think there will be anyone up to make you something to eat,” he pointed out once she was on her feet.

“I’m sure that I’ll manage,” she said, not bothering to remind him that she knew how to cook since most men of his standing would be outraged to have their wives do something that they believed was a servant’s job.

“I could always run down to the kitchens and look for something,” he suggested, sounding hopeful.

“You’d eat it all before you even left the kitchen,” she pointed out with a smile.

He considered that for a moment before he shrugged with a self-deprecating smile. “You’re probably right.”

“One day you’ll have to explain how you manage to eat so much,” she said, heading to the door, but she didn’t make it far before she found herself swept off her feet and into his arms.

“I actually have a theory about that,” he said with a smile as he walked to the door.

“Really? What is it?” she asked, too curious to pretend otherwise.

His appetite was rather frightening. She’d never seen someone eat so much food in one sitting. There were actually several maids that refused to wait on him, terrified that he’d accidentally devour their hands if they didn’t release the platters of food fast enough.

“You,” he simply said as he waited for her to reach over and open the door to her bedchamber.


“Mmmhmm, you,” he said with a teasing smile as he pressed a kiss to the tip of her nose and carried her out into the hallway that was dimly lit by several candles slowly burning away the late night hours.

“How exactly am I responsible for your terrifying appetite?” she asked as she wrapped her arms around his neck.

“If I recall correctly,” he said, shifting her slightly in his arms so that he could safely navigate the poorly lit staircase with her in his arms, “you cursed me and all my future heirs.”

She gasped. “I did no such thing!” she said, even though it did kind of sound like something that she would do.

“You certainly did, minx,” Robert said, chuckling as he carried her down the back hallway, towards the kitchen.

“Well, I’m sure that you did something to deserve it,” she said with feigned haughtiness that had him grinning as he turned and pushed the kitchen door open with his back.

“I buried all your dolls in the pig’s pen,” he said, chuckling as he carefully set her down on her feet.

“You really were a horrid child,” she said with a smile as she walked away from him and began to search through the cupboards, wondering what she’d done to make Robert do something so cruel. It was probably something much worse than what he’d done to her, she thought with a satisfied sigh.

“Tell me what you need and I’ll get it for you,” Robert said as he quickly lit more candles as well as several oil lamps so that they could see what they were doing.

As she quickly scanned what was available to them, she decided that eggs, ham and fresh biscuits would probably be the easiest thing for her to make. Decision made, she told him what she needed as she did her best to ignore her stomach’s growling demands.

Robert shot her an amused smile that she chose to ignore as she started on the biscuits. By the time she had the dough made and ready to rise, she was ravenous and considering skipping this step and simply cutting the biscuits and baking them, uncaring that they would end up flat. The only reason that she hesitated in doing just that was Robert. She’d bragged that she made the best biscuits and now she wanted to prove it. But, she was so hungry and she wasn’t sure that she was going to be able to wait until-

“Here,” Robert said as he placed a small platter overflowing with cheese, bread and cut ham in front of her.

“Thank you,” she barely murmured as she started to attack the food.

“You’re welcome,” he said with a chuckle as he helped himself to the food.

For several minutes they sat there eating in comfortable silence while she kept an eye on the dough. It was actually rather nice, she thought just before Robert had to go ahead and ruin it.

“I think we should talk.”

Chapter 24

“I know,” Elizabeth agreed with a small sigh as she popped another piece of cheese into her mouth, sounding so damn disgruntled by the prospect that he couldn’t help but smile.

For a moment she stared down at the bowl of dough as she toyed with a piece of bread and he wondered what she was thinking. Perhaps she was preparing herself for another fight, he realized with a wince. He was done fighting with her. They’d been doing it since they were children and, as much fun as it had been, it was time to put an end to it.

She was his wife and his responsibility, and they couldn’t go on like this. He’d been very fortunate that he hadn’t been raised in a cold family, and he wanted their children to be just as fortunate as he had been. Like most couples, his parents weren’t in love, but unlike most couples that he knew, they were very good friends.

It probably hadn’t hurt that his parents were raised knowing that they were betrothed to each other. They were two years apart and had lived less than two hours away from each other as children. They’d accepted the situation without complaint. His mother’s family had wanted a title for their daughter while his father’s parents had wanted to fatten their coffers and ensure that their son had a pleasant wife.

They’d always been friends, sometimes acting more like siblings than a married couple. They’d never shared a room, never looked at each other with anything more than casual affection, and never pretended to be in love. Not that he wanted to know, because the knowledge would probably scar him for life, but he doubted very much that his mother had graced his father’s bed since she’d provided him with an heir and a spare so that the line could continue.

She’d also never seemed upset that her husband kept mistresses and lovers. It never seemed to bother her, and Robert knew that she was well aware that they existed. Whenever his father left to go spend the night with another woman, she always gave him a knowing smile and wished him a good night.

They’d never fought, yelled at each other or ignored either James or himself as they pursued their own amusements. They raised their children in a warm family, with love and understanding and Robert wanted that for his own family. He certainly didn’t want to raise his children in a cold home like the one that Elizabeth had been raised in.

Lady Norwood was the typical mother and wife of the ton . She said the right things, wore the latest fashion, obeyed all the rules and snubbed her nose at those who didn’t. She also had very little to do with the raising of her daughters. She’d left that to nannies and governesses, only involving herself in her children’s lives when it came to gossip, the prospect of her daughters marrying, or if her daughters embarrassed her in some way.