“Wait!” she hissed, trying to get to her feet as Mrs. Brown, who was smiling and shaking her head in wonder, reached over and carefully picked the unfinished baby quilt off her lap and set it aside. Once that was done, Mrs. Brown took her hands into hers and did her best to help Elizabeth get to her feet. Although she was only five months along in her pregnancy, her stomach was a bit larger than most women’s at this stage. It was just another thing that frightened her.

Just as she was about to scoot to the edge of the chair with the hope that it would give her better leverage to stand up, she felt Robert’s large hands gently grip her h*ps to help her stand. Once she was on her feet, she didn’t bother looking back or thanking him since that would only give him a chance to change his mind and she most definitely did not want him doing that.

With a grateful smile to Mrs. Brown, she turned to head out the front door when she remembered the blueberry tarts they’d made that morning. Deciding that she was going to need a light snack to keep up her energy, she abruptly turned and headed in the direction of the kitchen.

“Already packed them,” Robert said, grinning boyishly from the backdoor as she stepped inside the kitchen. He held out his hand for her to join him.

Smiling, she went to him, only pausing twice along the way to grab some cheese, bread and a couple of meat pies along the way. As she stuffed the last meat pie in a sack, she prayed that her appetite returned to normal once she had the baby, because the thought of eating like this for the rest of her life terrified her.

“This way, minx,” Robert said, taking the sack from her and tossing it over his shoulder with the one he held in his hand before he took her hand in his and led her towards the woods.

“Are you really taking me fishing?’ she asked, barely able to keep the excitement out of her voice.

“Why wouldn’t I take my wife fishing?” Robert asked, steering her along an easy path through the woods.

“Because most husbands wouldn’t,” she foolishly pointed out.

“Then that’s their loss,” Robert said with a boyish grin, the one that made her love him even more.

* * *
“What do we do now?”

Robert chuckled at her excitement. “Now, minx, we wait,” he said, carefully placing her pole against a fallen log near the blanket he’d laid out for her so that they could see the pole dip if she got a bite.

“Oh,” she said with an adorable pout.

“Did you think the fish were going to attack your line,” he teased as he leaned in and kissed her, unable to resist such a sexy little pout.

“Sort of,” she admitted sheepishly.

“It takes time and patience, minx,” he said, chuckling as her pout deepened.

“What do we do until then?” she asked, looking around the grassy bank and then at the large pond that looked very inviting on a hot day like today.

“Normally we’d sit and wait, but today,” he said, pausing to pull his shirt off, “I thought we’d go for a swim.”

Instantly her pout was replaced with a shy hopeful smile as she looked at the pond. “Really?”

“Really, minx,” he said, quickly pulling off his boots and pants before he moved to help her remove her dress.

Her smile faltered when she looked down at herself. “Maybe I shouldn’t,” she said, nibbling her bottom lip even as she shot the pond a wistful look.

“And why is that?” he asked, stepping up behind her so that he could undo her buttons.

“Because I’m fat,” she muttered pathetically.

“You’re not fat,” he said, chuckling as leaned forward and pressed a kiss against the back of her neck, “you’re beautiful.”

She sighed heavily as she held onto the front of her dress so that it wouldn’t drop to the ground. “And you’re a terrible liar,” she grumbled, but she did let him help her out of her dress, stockings and slippers.

Wearing only her shift, she carefully walked to the edge of the pond and dipped a single toe in the calm water. If she hadn’t been carrying their baby he would have probably picked her up and thrown her in just so that he could rile her up. God, he loved it when she was all riled up.

But she was pregnant, so he had to be good. With that in mind, he walked over to her and scooped her up in his arms before she could put up much of a fight. To his utter shock, she didn’t complain at all. Instead, she sighed with pleasure as she wrapped her arms around his neck and laid her head against his shoulder as he carried her into the water.

Once he was chest deep, he pulled her closer and simply enjoyed having her in his arms. As he carried her through the water, he felt her shiver in his arms. Smiling, he looked down to tease her, but instead, he felt his smile slip as he lost himself in her baby blue eyes.

She was so damn beautiful, so kind and sweet. She made him so damn happy. He couldn’t imagine going a single day without seeing her, holding her, kissing her or showing her just how much he loved her. Every day he did everything in his power to show her how much he loved her, but he’d foolishly never told her how he felt, because he was terrified that she wouldn’t feel the same way.

He’d been so damn foolish.

It would hurt like hell if she didn’t return his feelings, but he didn’t give a damn. He loved her more than anything and he wanted to tell her. He wanted to-

“I love you, Robert,” Elizabeth whispered as she pulled herself up just enough so that she could brush her trembling lips against his.

For a moment he was too stunned to react.

She loved him?

Of course she did, he realized smiling smugly as he brushed his lips against hers. That was the only reason to explain why she hadn’t killed him with her bare hands by now and why she put up with all of his bullshit. It also explained why she’d agreed to his truce, agreed to leave everything behind and move with him to a new country where neither one of them had ever been before. It was so obvious now. She truly did love him, adored him really, but she would never love him as much as he loved her, he realized, still grinning because he was more than fine with that.

“I love you more, minx,” he said against her lips.

“Probably,” she easily agreed as she wrapped her arms around his neck and moved to deepen their kiss.

“Probably?” he demanded in mock outrage as he pulled away from her so that he could glare down at her.

“Definitely,” she said with an innocent expression as she leaned up to kiss him again, but before her lips could touch his he turned his head away.

With a heavy sigh, he carefully placed her on her feet. He rubbed his hands down his face as he said, “Run.”

“W-what?” she asked, sounding confused and more than a little excited.

He dropped his hands down by his sides, careful not to splash his wife in the face. “You have to the count of ten to run before I hunt you down and make you admit that you love me more.”

“You can’t be serious,” she said, biting back a smile even as she started to inch away from him.




“Wait, let’s talk about this. I was just-”




“There’s no way that I’ll be able to-”