“And the first one?” he bit out, rubbing the back of his stinging hand as he glared down at his mother, but he wasn’t stupid enough to raise his voice at her. She was still gripping her fan after all.
“For lying to me!”
“I never lied to you,” he said, frowning in confusion as he thought over their conversation, wondering what she was talking about.
“If you think that you’re going to manipulate me into taking your side and looking the other way while you continue with this mistake of a marriage, then you have another thing coming, young man!” she said, jabbing that damn fan, that he was going to have to steal, in his chest as she made her point.
“What’s going on?” his father asked, probably saving him from another rap on the-
“That’s for trying to lie to me again!” she explained before he could ask.
She swiftly turned her attention on his father, who had the good sense to get the hell out of her way as she turned to storm out of the foyer. “You fix this!” she snapped at his father with a glare that clearly said there would be hell to pay if he didn’t.
“Of course, my dear,” his father muttered obediently as he watched his wife storm off.
“Where are you going?” Robert asked, watching as his father practically ran to the door seconds later.
“To my club where it’s safe,” his father said, barely sparing him a glance as he made his escape.
For a moment, he considered following his father, not really caring that it was the cowardly thing to do, but he had a sick wife that he needed to take care of first. After he made sure that Elizabeth was settled, he would consider escaping this madhouse until everyone came to their damn senses.
“What are you doing?”
Elizabeth chewed on her bottom lip as she dropped her hairpin and picked up the small nail she’d found lying on the floor near where Robert’s jacket hung and proceeded to stick it in the keyhole, uncaring that the owner of the chest was now standing over her, looking amused.
“Stealing your chest,” she said, even though she felt it should be more than obvious what she was doing.
“Do you do this often?” Robert asked, placing the cup of tea that he’d promised her over a half hour ago on the small table to the right before he gently pried the nail from her hand and handed over a small, simple, but still somewhat stunning key.
“No,” she admitted, “but I’ve decided to make an exception in this case.”
“So, you like the chest?” he hesitantly asked, sounding a little nervous.
“I wouldn’t be stealing it if I didn’t,” she pointed out as she slid the key inside the lock and with a satisfied sigh, unlocked the chest that she’d decided was rightfully hers twenty minutes ago when two footmen had carried it into the room.
It was the most beautiful chest that she’d ever seen in her life. She’d never seen a piece of furniture that she’d gladly kill for before. The chest was made from the finest wood, which had been polished to perfection. Black metal strips lined the edges and corners perfectly, making it appear as though the metal and the wood were one instead of constructed together. The design in the wood was leveled, standing out in a way that complimented the black metal to perfection.
She was sorely tempted to beg her father to buy her a matching bedroom set, something that she never would have done before, but she couldn’t. Not only would her father try to use her request against her to manipulate her into ending her marriage with Robert, but she would also be insulting her husband’s pride if she did that. He’d not only forgiven her for lying to him about the baby, offered to give her pin money when she’d brought nothing to the marriage, but he’d also turned down forty-thousand pounds to be with her. Well, so she hadn’t exactly given him a chance to turn down that money, but he could have said something.
“It’s yours,” he said, kneeling beside her.
“I’m glad that we agree,” she murmured absently as she raised the cover and looked inside, surprised to see what appeared to be two doors at the top, acting as another cover.
He chuckled as he reached past her and opened the two doors, revealing two sections; the left half held a small deep tray at the top with three small drawers beneath it and the right half of the chest was lined with what appeared to be light pink silk on the bottom and three sides.
“This is for your slippers,” he explained as he wrapped his arm around her waist and pointed to the tray at the top, “and these drawers are for your hair ribbons, handkerchiefs, books, whatever you wish to place inside them.”
“This is really for me?” she asked, touched beyond words that he would buy her something so beautiful.
“Mmmmhmm,” he murmured, pressing a kiss to the top of her head before he continued to explain the chest. “The silk will make sure that your dresses don’t get snagged on the wood and the doors will prevent them from being bounced around and wrinkled when the box is moved.”
“It’s so beautiful,” she whispered, tracing her fingertips along the silk material.
“You haven’t seen the best part yet,” he said, sounding quite pleased as he gripped the center divider of the tray and pushed it to the side. A small click caught her attention. She watched as the entire left side shifted to the right, sliding over the silk bottom of the right side without touching it and revealing a hidden section of the chest.
“You can hide your money, valuables and anything else that you don’t want to be found in here,” he explained as he once again pushed the small divider, but this time towards the left. With another soft click the entire section slid back in place.
“Oh my God,” was all she could manage, because she’d never seen anything like it before.
“It was supposed to be your birthday present, minx, but since we’ll be leaving in a couple of weeks I thought that you should have it now. I wanted to be here when it was brought to the room, but you weren’t feeling well and I didn’t want you to have to wait for your tea,” he said, rambling on nervously for the first time since she could remember.
“You bought this for me?” she asked, not missing the part where he’d admitted that he’d planned on giving this to her for her birthday. Since he hadn’t left the house since they’d married or her side for that matter, she realized that he’d bought this for her before he found out about the baby.
“No,” he said, confusing her until she realized that perhaps he’d bought this for another woman. If that was the case she didn’t think that she could stomach seeing a reminder that he’d wanted another woman no matter how much she loved the chest.
“This was made for you, minx,” he said, taking her by surprise.
“It was?” she asked, feeling ridiculously happy that he would do something so wonderful for her when he’d professed to hate her. It made her wonder if it was possible that-
“I made it for you.”
* * *
“You made this?” Elizabeth asked, shooting him a questioning look before returning her attention back to the chest.
“Yes,” he said with dread as Elizabeth looked over the chest, taking her time and studying everything more closely.