Surrender to the Devil(Scoundrels of St. James,Book 3)(80) by Lorraine Heath
“I wasn’t the right one for you, Jim. She’s out there somewhere. You’ll find her.”
But she could tell that he didn’t believe her.
After the reception, Sterling had brought her to the ship.
“Wait until you see it tonight,” he said. “We’ll have a full moon and so many stars.”
“I don’t know how to swim.”
“Hopefully, you won’t have to. When we return home, I’ll teach you how to swim.”
They stayed on deck for an hour before they went to their cabin. It had been so many months since they’d been together that clothes were scattered over the floor as they worked quickly to divest each other of their garments. Then they fell onto the small bed in a tangle of limbs.
“We’ll have much nicer accommodations in France,” Sterling assured her as he nuzzled her neck.
“Doesn’t matter. As long as you’re there, it doesn’t matter.”
“You do know that as my wife I expect you to buy an inordinate amount of clothes.”
“I’ve already ordered fifty dresses.”
He nipped the side of her breast. “Not for the orphans. For you.”
She cradled his face. “I never bought clothes before because there was no one I really wanted to impress. Rest assured, I have every intention of impressing you.”
“Good. Although I suspect I shall always prefer you without clothes at all.”
He kissed her thoroughly as their hands traveled over each other’s body, relearning the shape and curves of what they’d once known. He had more scars now. She bent over and kissed the long scar on his side that she’d given him, then she kissed the puckered wound where he’d been shot. He kissed the scar on her forehead. But none of the changes they saw altered their feelings…or if they did, it was to deepen them. They’d survived. They’d always survive.
When he entered her, there was nothing to separate the heat of his flesh from hers.
“God, you feel so good,” he murmured near her ear. “So hot, so slick, so wet. I’ve never done this before, you know.”
She pulled back to look at him questioningly. He grinned. “You’re my first with no covering and I must say, I like it very, very much. I fear, Duchess, that you are going to have many children.”
Laughing, she wrapped her legs around him, tightened her body until he groaned in pleasure. Duchess. She’d never thought she’d love having the word applied to her. But even more, she loved the thought of having his children.
“I hope they all take after their father,” she said.
“And I hope they all take after you.”
“I can’t wait, Sterling, I can’t wait to give you a child.”
“You’ll have to wait—nine months at least.”
“Only nine months. God, I’m so happy. I love you so much.”
“I love you with all my heart.”
He began to rock against her, the sensations building into glorious release.
Afterward, she held him tightly, relishing the moment.
“I love you, Frannie darling,” he murmured.
She smiled. Even when her name changed…it didn’t.
From the Journal of Frannie Mabry,
Duchess of Greystone
My most precious memory is of Sterling, with tears glistening in his beautiful blue eyes, as he held our firstborn son within moments of his arrival. Although it was not fashionable for the husband to be so near while his wife gave birth, Sterling insisted. He didn’t want to miss out on witnessing any part of life while he still had the ability to view its glory.
Sterling would also see our second son and our only daughter come into the world. He danced with her on the evening she had her coming out and on the day she wed the Duke of Lovingdon. While his vision had narrowed considerably by the time our first grandchild made his appearance, Sterling was still able to behold his scrunched-up face and laugh with abandon.
Our troubles were much less following the arrest of Bob Sykes. His trial did not go at all well for him. It was his misfortune that one of the primary witnesses speaking against him was not only a duke, but one who came from a long and influential lineage, one whose title was among the most powerful in Great Britain. The other witness was a well-respected inspector from Scotland Yard who had the uncanny ability to decipher murder with the fewest of clues.
Jim had often told me that I should avoid witnessing a hanging at all costs, but as hangings were still public in 1852, when Sykes danced in the wind, Sterling and I watched from a hired room that overlooked Newgate Gaol as justice was served. Perhaps it is petty of me, but I took great satisfaction in watching such a mean and nasty man blubbering and soiling himself before the noose was ever placed around his neck. I never attended another hanging. Jim was right. It was a ghastly thing to witness, but I slept more soundly at night knowing the likes of Bob Sykes would never again darken our lives or those of orphaned children.
Sterling and I took Nancy’s son into our home and into our family. I never thought of Peter as having any relation to Sykes, and he never exhibited the meanness that had characterized his father. I told him many wonderful stories about his mother. He knew only that his father had met with an untimely and tragic end. Peter brought immense joy into all our lives, and we were grateful to have him.
Through the years, our family traveled the world. Sterling and I built two additional orphanages and a home for wayward mothers. Our charitable works were many and in them was woven Feagan’s legacy of making a home for lost children. Whether or not he was truly my father remained a mystery, for while he denied it, I wasn’t certain I quite believed him. His was a world of deceptions and dodges. But even if he was not my father according to law, he was according to my heart.
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