“We can eat while you further explain this truce of yours,” Elizabeth pointed out and when he opened his mouth to argue, she shoved the most delicious biscuit that he’d ever tasted in his mouth.
“ Oh, God ,” he mumbled in ecstasy as he finished off the biscuit and grabbed another.
“Do you like it?” Elizabeth asked, her tone casual, but he could tell that she was pleased.
“You weren’t lying,” he said, finishing off the last biscuit that she’d given him and grabbing three more. He quickly slathered peach jam on them and placed two of the biscuits by her plate.
“Thank you,” she said, taking a small bite out of one of the biscuits before placing it back down by her plate. “Now, about this truce.”
“Right,” he nodded, taking one more bite of that delicious biscuit before placing it back down by his plate and forcing himself to focus.
“I’d be willing to let the past go if you are,” Elizabeth said, bringing them back where they’d left off.
“I think that’s the best way to start this,” he said, looking across the table at her beautiful face. “I’d like us to start off as friends.”
“I’d like that, too,” she said softly, giving him a small smile that gave him hope. “What else?” she asked, sounding eager to fix this situation between them.
“No more fighting,” he restated his earlier declaration so that she at least knew that he was done with making her life a living hell. “And no more secrets,” he added, before he considered how it might sound.
She flinched as if he’d struck her, but instead of getting upset or making excuses for what she’d done, she nodded in agreement. “No more secrets.”
He nodded as he debated on the best way to continue. After a moment, he realized that he was actually nervous. He didn’t want to make a mess of this. To buy himself a little more time, he picked up his fork and dug into the eggs and nearly groaned with pleasure.
It was so damn good. His wife was an excellent cook and for that alone he thought himself a lucky man. He didn’t give a damn that she wasn’t supposed to know how to cook. A man with his appetite would be foolish to look down his nose at anyone with this level of skill in the kitchen.
“The first thing that we should clear up,” he said, pausing only long enough to take another bite, “is that you can cook whenever you’d like, whatever you’d like.”
“Thank you,” she said, sounding genuinely pleased.
He took a few more bites and decided that perhaps they should get to the basics of their marriage. “We should probably discuss your pin money and such.”
“I thought we’d already discussed that,” she said with a shrug. “Besides, I don’t have a dowry.”
“You don’t need one. I’ll take care of you,” he said, because he would. He might not be a rich man, but he could afford to keep his wife happy, at least he hoped that he could.
She looked like she was about to argue, but instead nodded. “Thank you, Robert.”
“You’re welcome, minx,” he said, finishing off his food.
“Where do you expect us to reside?” she asked with a touch of hesitation.
He cleared his throat nervously. He wasn’t exactly sure how to approach the subject, but he knew that he could no longer put it off, not since he’d announced barely ten minutes ago that there wouldn’t be any more secrets.
“I sold the estate that I bought a few months ago,” he said, deciding to break the news to her as easily as possible. He hoped that she took the news well and didn’t refuse to leave with him, because he’d really hate to resort to kidnapping his own wife since he refused to live without her.
“The one that our parents have been talking about?” she asked, sounding confused, but not terribly upset, at least not yet.
“Yes,” he answered slowly before adding, “I’ve bought a new estate in the country.”
“I don’t much care for London,” she said with a shrug, taking him by surprise and reminding him of their conversation that night in the orangery. “Where in the country is it?” she asked, sounding genuinely curious.
“Bridgewater,” he said, trying not to cringe as he waited for her response.
She started to nod only to pause with a frown. “I’ve never heard of it before. Is it up North?”
“You could say that,” he said, shifting nervously on the bench.
“How long will it take to travel there?”
“About six weeks,” he admitted with a grimace.
“We’re staying for another six weeks?” she asked, appearing confused and for good reason.
Thanks to their hasty marriage and the scandal that had accompanied it, the majority of the ton had already cut them off. Invitations that had been extended to both of them weeks ago were now being rescinded. They’d had no visitors or notes congratulating them on their marriage or anyone wishing Elizabeth a quick recovery. Their parents were surviving the scandal, but just barely.
From what he’d heard, his mother had been given the cut direct by Lady Penelope yesterday in a ribbon shop and it probably wouldn’t be too much longer until that happened again. The longer they stayed, the worse it would get for their families and neither one of them wanted that. It would be best if they left as soon as possible. He was just waiting until he was assured that Elizabeth was able to travel.
“No, we’re not staying for six weeks. Perhaps another week or two,” he said, hoping that it would be quite a bit sooner than that, but he wasn’t going to rush her until she was well enough for the trip.
“I don’t understand,” she finally admitted.
“I bought a home in Bridgewater, Massachusetts. We’re moving to America, minx,” he said, preparing himself for a fight since even his mother would have taken issue with that announcement.
“America?” she repeated slowly as though she were testing out the word.
“Yes,” he said, clearing his throat awkwardly, wondering what he should say to convince her that this was for the best.
“Really?” she asked after a moment, eyeing him suspiciously.
When her lips turned up into a pleased smile, he felt himself relax. “I’ve always wanted to visit America,” she admitted, appearing excited.
“We won’t be able to travel back here too often,” he admitted, realizing that she at least deserved to know the truth of the matter. He had money, but he wasn’t rich enough to afford a trip to England too often. It actually made him feel horrible when he realized that he was taking her away from her family and everything that she knew.
She merely shrugged. “Our families are well off enough that they can come visit us.”
“You’re not upset?” he asked, more than a little surprised.
“Why would I be? You know how I feel about London and, if we’re going to try to start fresh, what better way then to start over somewhere new?”
“You’re a remarkable woman, Elizabeth,” he said with a wink.
“Now,” she said, pretending that she wasn’t pleased by his words, but he could tell by the way that she did her best to bite back a smile that she appreciated the compliment, “what else do you have in mind for this truce of yours?”