When she placed her fork down on the table and pushed the rest of her food towards him, he didn’t hesitate. He picked up his fork and made quick work of finishing off her meal. Once he was sure that no crumb had escaped his notice he pushed on.

“There will be no separate bedrooms,” he announced, deciding that it was only right to let her know that she was expected to warm his bed for the rest of their lives.

“Agreed,” she said with a firm nod as though she would accept nothing less, which explained her next announcement. “And no other women.”

He had to bite back a smile. Leave it to his minx. No other woman would dare set down such a proclamation to her husband, especially when she’d brought nothing into the marriage and relied solely on his generosity, but then again, Elizabeth wasn’t like other women.

“Don’t want to share me?” he couldn’t help but tease.

“Not unless you want to share me,” she shot back, sounding smug as her words hit home and erased every last ounce of humor that he’d been feeling.

“If any other man so much as looks your way, minx, I will-”

“So, we’re agreed that we’ll be faithful to each other,” she said, cutting him off and dismissing his murderous rage with a careless flick of her hand. “What else?”

He couldn’t help but frown at that as he stole the last biscuit. “That’s actually all I have for now,” he admitted with a shrug.

She sighed softly as she stood up, picking up their plates before heading to the counter. “Well, at the very least it should be enough to keep us from killing each other.”

“Probably,” he mused as he finished off the last bite of his biscuit and moved to help his wife. If he couldn’t make her fall in love with him, at least she probably wouldn’t kill him in his sleep.

Chapter 27

Dear God, it was still poking her!

Sometime ago she’d woken up to discover that something rather hard was poking her in the side. Not thinking much of it at the time, she’d shifted onto her side, facing away from Robert and started to drift off when Robert pulled her back against him and that hard thing shifted until it was poking her in the bottom.

It wasn’t until she’d tried to move away from it that Robert’s sleepy moan clued her into the identity of the hard object pressing firmly against her bottom. Once she’d realized exactly what she was dealing with, she had a difficult time thinking about anything else.

Should she move?

Perhaps she should wake him up so that he could point that thing in another direction?

It was probably better if she didn’t wake him, she decided, as she tried to shift her bottom forward so that his manhood was no longer pushing her cotton nightgown where it had no business. She moved quickly, shifting forward and then pushing back. She nearly sighed in relief when his manhood ceased its poking and instead lay flush between their bodies with her rumpled nightgown providing a barrier.

She closed her eyes, deciding that it was probably for the best that they both caught up on their sleep while they had the chance when Robert shifted behind her. When he shifted back, taking his manhood with him, she couldn’t help but sigh in disappointment. Although she wouldn’t mind a little more sleep, she had to admit that she had been enjoying the feel of it pressed against her body, that is, once it stopped stabbing her.

Her disappointment abruptly ended when she felt the tip of his manhood touch her bare thigh. The silken head slid up her leg, sliding beneath the bunched up bottom of her nightgown and continued up in one long sensuous move that ended with Robert’s hard, hot manhood cushioned once again between their bodies, but this time her cotton nightgown didn’t protect her from its touch.

It felt good.

Very good, she decided, biting back a moan as she closed her eyes and struggled against the urge to move against it. She couldn’t believe that such a thing could be stimulating, but it was. She enjoyed the feel of it against her skin, the way it made her body tingle in anticipation and the way that it-

“M’lady! You need to wake up!” Jane, her maid, rushed in her room to explain.

“What the hell is going on?” Robert demanded as his hold around her tightened and he pressed a sleepy kiss against the back of her shoulder.

“Your father is downstairs, Mr. Bradford,” Jane explained as she rushed around the room, picking out her clothes. “He needs to speak with you, sir.”

“He can wait,” Robert said as he pressed another kiss against her shoulder and snuggled closer to her.

She opened her mouth to suggest that Jane go downstairs and tell her new father-in-law that they needed a few more minutes when the man himself came storming into the room with her father close behind him.

“No, I can’t,” Robert’s father announced as he stopped in front of the bed. With an impatient gesture, he sent Jane scrambling from the room and making her wish that she could follow.

“We need to talk,” her father said, looking decidedly unhappy with finding Robert in her bed.

“And my wife needs her sleep,” Robert shot back sleepily as he sat up, making sure that she remained covered as he did. “Give me ten minutes and I’ll meet you in your study to discuss the matter.”

Her father stubbornly shook his head. “We can discuss the matter here.”

“Elizabeth is still recovering,” Robert argued, gesturing for the men to leave when his father said, “And that’s exactly what’s going to save you both.”

“Save us?” Elizabeth repeated, frowning in confusion as she sat up, careful to keep the covers pulled up to her neck.

“From what exactly?” Robert asked, leaning forward and lazily resting his arms across his upturned knees.

“From each other,” Harold explained as her father made sure that the door was sufficiently shut.

“I don’t understand,” Elizabeth found herself mumbling distractedly as she watched her father turn back around, open the door and peer out into the hallway before shutting the door, locking it and returning to the front of the bed where he shared a look with Robert’s father.

“Oh, I have a pretty good idea,” Robert said coldly as he glared at the men shifting nervously in front of them.

“It’s for the best,” her father said, giving her a reassuring smile that set her nerves racing.

“What’s for the best?” she asked, looking between the two men in front of her, but it was Robert who answered her question.

“They want to annul the marriage,” he said evenly, his tone void of any emotion as he turned his head to look at her.

For a moment she could only sit there as she struggled to wrap her mind around what he’d just said. Annulled? That wasn’t possible. He’d taken her innocence and they’d lost a child. She didn’t know much about annulments, because it was one of those subjects that was only mentioned in hushed whispers, but she knew enough to know that they didn’t qualify for an annulment. The marriage was consummated. It didn’t matter if it had been done before they took their vows; she was no longer a virgin. Thanks to the gossip spreading through every household in London, everyone knew the circumstances of their hasty marriage.

Her father, on the other hand, saw things a bit differently than she did. “You’ve been ill since your wedding night and haven’t been able to leave your bed. The servants have been in and out of this room at all hours of the night and know that you’ve slept alone. Gossip has spread of your illness and many others know that you’ve been deathly ill.”