“I told you that you could stay in the house as long as you didn’t interfere with our work,” she said firmly, still pointing towards the door.

“This is my house, woman,” he bit out, deciding that the woman simply needed to be reminded, but apparently she didn’t give a damn whose house it was, because she just kept pointing as she said, “Out.”

So he decided to try a different tactic, one that he hadn’t used since they were children. “She started it!” he said accusingly as he pointed towards Elizabeth, who apparently remembered this little ploy because she let out a heartfelt sob, the same one that used to work on his parents and end with him sent to his room without pudding.

Finally, the damn woman dropped her arm. She folded her hands in front of her as she looked up at him, her expression stern. “Mr. Bradford, it wasn’t Mrs. Bradford that I caught pinning you up against the wall and kissing you senseless when I returned from getting another bucket of soapy water,” she said, reminding him of his offense and making it damn difficult not to smile.

“I was just trying to clean,” Elizabeth said softly, adding a pathetic sniffle at the end that had him biting back another smile and Mrs. Brown’s eyes narrowing on him.

“Why are you taking her side?” Robert demanded, loving the mischievous smile that his minx was sending his way. “She’s the one that started it! She attacked me!” he said, slapping a hand against his chest and making sure to look properly wounded. “I was minding my own business, taking down the wallpaper like you’d asked when she grabbed me from behind and manhandled me!”

With a small sigh, Mrs. Brown looked over her shoulder at his minx, who was smart enough to wipe that smile off her face and let her chin tremble as she made a show of picking up her brush from the bucket of soapy water and return to washing the floor, adding a little sniffle here and there as she worked.

The woman was screwing him over and clearly enjoying herself, he realized with a grin. His minx was wonderful, he thought with a sigh as he took a step to go to her, but Mrs. Brown wasn’t having any of that.

With that damn finger pointed back towards the door, she said, “Out.”

Knowing that the woman probably wouldn’t leave the room again so that he could have a chance to kiss his minx, he decided that perhaps it was best to head out to the barn and set up his shop.

“Fine, I’m going,” he said, heading for the door, pausing only long enough to send his minx a wink, “but you’ll pay for this later.”

Chapter 33

“Don’t turn around.”

Elizabeth had to bite her lip to keep from laughing as she looked up from her sewing to share a knowing look with Mrs. Brown, who was sitting on the couch across from her, and looking quite amused with Robert’s latest attempt to sneak a kiss under Mrs. Brown’s nose.

“Go away,” she whispered back, loving this playful side of her husband.

There was a slight pause before Robert whispered back, “I have something for you.”

She just bet he did.

“I’m busy,” she whispered back, not bothering to turn around or look out the window since she already knew that Robert was kneeling beneath the window and out of sight.

It was the same way that he used to torment her when they were children and she was stuck inside to complete her studies. He’d hide beneath the open window, taunting and teasing her until she finally had enough and made some excuse so that she could go outside and box the little beast’s ears. Not that she would ever admit this to him, but she used to secretly love it when he interrupted her lessons. It gave her something to look forward to everyday.

“Meet me outside in five minutes, minx.”

“No,” she said, having too much fun to give in so easily.

Besides, the kisses were always so much better when she made him work for them. There was just something about teasing and tormenting her husband that brought a smile to her face. Every day Robert found a way to sneak inside the house to steal a kiss, doing his best to get in and out of the house without Mrs. Brown finding out.

Not that Mrs. Brown actually cared what the two of them did. She found the whole thing amusing and seemed to enjoy tormenting Robert almost as much as she did. She also doubted that Robert would ever allow anyone to stop him from stealing a kiss from her and was doing everything he could to tease a smile out of her when most days, she hardly had the energy to do much more than curl up in bed and read.

She was only five months into her pregnancy, but she felt like she’d been pregnant forever. Her appetite was almost as large as her husband’s, which truly frightened her. She also found herself sleeping throughout most of the day, having very little energy to be much help. If it hadn’t been for Mrs. Brown, the house would still look like it was decaying, the gardens would still be overgrown with weeds and she doubted that there would be anything to eat since Elizabeth usually fell asleep halfway through making biscuits.

In truth, she was terrified. Between the first doctors misdiagnosing her, her appetite, and the intense exhaustion that she couldn’t shake, she didn’t know what to think or expect from this pregnancy. Every day she worried that she wasn’t giving the baby enough food, resting enough, or a hundred other things that could hurt the baby, and every day Robert did everything he could to make her smile.

He knew her concerns, had comforted her enough times over the past month to know that she was terrified that she was going to lose their baby. He did everything that he could to comfort her and reassure her that everything would be okay and when he couldn’t, he held her in his arms as she cried her eyes out. He was the sweetest man that she’d ever met and she couldn’t imagine what she’d done to deserve someone like him.

“Come on, minx, you know you want to,” he whispered teasingly.

“I thought you were fixing the Marshall’s roof today?” she said, noting that it was barely two in the afternoon. It made her wonder if he’d snuck off from work to steal a kiss from her.

“I finished a few hours early,” he answered, making her smile.

Her husband was a very hard worker as everyone in town had learned over the past month. At first they’d refused to hire him, thinking that he was just the spoiled second son of an English lord looking for a handout, but once they saw some of his work being sold at the shops in town, they couldn’t seem to hire him fast enough. There were several carpenters in town, but none of them had the skill that Robert seemed to have. Not to mention that he worked faster and harder than most men, at least that’s all she ever heard when she went into town. She couldn’t help but wonder if his size or the insane amount of food that he ate everyday had something to do with it.

“Well, I’m still working on the baby’s blanket so you’ll just have to find something else to do, Mr. Bradford,” she said in her haughtiest whisper that she could manage without laughing.

Robert sighed heavily. “Then I guess I’ll just go fishing all by myself.”

“Fishing?” she repeated with interest, her plans to torment him forgotten. She’d never been fishing before. It was one of those things that she’d always wanted to try, but her father had absolutely forbid her from ever doing.

“I was going to take you with me, but since you’re not interested.....,” he said, allowing his words to trail off as she imagined him shrugging even as he grinned that mischievous grin of his that used to irritate her, but she now loved.