“I’d like for them to come stay with us when my due date gets closer,” she said.

“Yes, of course,” he said. “They are welcome to come before then, too. As is the rest of your family.”

She waited for him to say something about them visiting Holland Springs, but when he said nothing at all, she sighed.

He turned to her, concern etched on his face. “Are you all right?”

No, she wasn’t all right, but it wasn’t his fault. “Just tired.”

“Shall I take you to bed?” he asked and, despite the innocence of his question, her cheeks began to heat.

“I… I can find the way to my room,” she said, trying to buy more time. She didn’t want to rest for the entire afternoon, in his bedroom or hers. And she didn’t want to be by herself.

“I’d hoped you’d share mine, like you did last night.”

She searched his face. “I know I’m feeling better today, but we can’t do anything until after my checkup on Monday.”

He frowned. “That’s not what I meant.”


“You’re my wife now, and I’ve no desire to have separate beds. Unless, you’ve changed your mind.”

“Our vows by the chapel,” she murmured. “No, I meant them.”

His frown eased into a small smile. “I meant them too, perhaps more than our vows yesterday.”

She continued to stand there, staring at him, unsure of what to say next.

“Are you too tired to go for a walk?” he asked. “There’s something I’d like to show you.”


The wind whipped at her hair as she stood at the edge of a sharp cliff overlooking the ocean. Waves crashed against the shore below, while birds cried out as they flew over it all.

It was beautiful and stark and made tears come to her eyes. The wind blew with such force that she had to take a couple of steps back.

“You’re not afraid?” Liam asked, catching hold of her.

She threw her arms out and tilted her head to the sun. “I’m in awe of God’s creation. This is such a masterpiece. Don’t you think so?’

“In awe of the power of nature, and how the land crashed together to form mountains and pulled apart to form oceans? Sure,” he said, and she felt him shrug.

She twisted her lips. “At least we can agree on the beauty of it.”

“Have you ever considered you might not be right?” he asked.

Without missing a beat, she said, “Have you?”

“Aye,” he answered honestly. “I wonder if there is something bigger than us, then I worry that there’s nothing bigger than us. And what if there is no purpose to this life? What if we’re nothing but the whim of a bored God?”

Turning to face him, she laced her fingers in his. “Like the Roman and Greek gods? Pretty selfish beings if you go by what was written about them.”

He raised a brow. “You were allowed to learn about them?”

She grinned. “Oh yes. Science, too. Don’t tell anyone back home, or they might kick me out of church. Wait, my dad’s the pastor, and he and my mom chose to send me to public school.” She added the last sentence with a laugh.

He rubbed the back of his neck. “I’m constantly amazed by you.”

“Because I like to learn things?” She didn’t know whether to take that as a compliment or an insult.

“No, that you didn’t latch on to my questions and try to shove something down my throat that I’m not ready for,” he said.

She touched his cheek, enjoying the feel of the dark stubble there. “I’m not going to take your willingness to be vulnerable and honest with me as a sign to start quoting Bible verses.”

He tilted his head to one side. “What will you do?”

Love you, she almost blurted. “Continue to get to know you. Share my greatest fears and joys.”

“And what’s your greatest fear?” he asked in a low voice.

“The same thing as my greatest joy,” she replied.

His dark brows drew together. “I don’t catch your meaning.”

She took his hand and placed it over her stomach. “This.”

“I swear to do everything in my power to make sure that your greatest fear doesn’t come true,” he said fiercely. “Nothing is too great a sacrifice for me to make.”

She gave him a tremulous smile, tears falling. “Thank you.”


Early Monday afternoon, Liam worked on Wintersea’s budget for the next fiscal quarter, breathing a sigh of relief when he realized just how much in the black they would finally be.

Finally, he could go to work every day without the weight of the world on his shoulders. Finally, he could enjoy this bloody castle without the crushing guilt that always accompanied coming here. But would he ever really be welcome? He wanted to go to Geimhreadh, instead of Inverness. He wanted to drink at the pub and play darts. He wanted to be something other than an absentee landlord.

Hell, he didn’t want to be a lord at all, much less a Your Grace. But he’d inherited the title—headaches and all. So, it was his duty to do the best with it. Yet, he had absolutely no idea what that looked like beyond using the money he’d inherited.

The door to his study opened and Bella walked inside, eating a rather messy-looking snack. “Your cook made sopapillas for me. Almost as good as my momma’s.” Honey dripped from her fingers and onto the plate. “Want some?”

He glanced at the nearly empty plate. “I’ll pass.”

“Don’t know what you’re missing,” she said, and then scarfed down the rest. “If you weren’t here, I’d probably lick the plate.”

He raised a disbelieving brow.

She rolled her eyes. “Fine. There’s no probably about it.”

“Eat what you like, Bella. However you like,” he said with a laugh. “Honestly, I’m glad to see you feeling better.”

“You were there for the appointment. Dr. Grahame said I am super healthy, and so is our baby.”

Yes, the good doctor had, he thought. And he was very thankful. “Why don’t you hang out with me for a bit? I’m done with my work for the day.”

“Sure.” She licked her fingers, and then looked around the room. “Where can I put this?”

He pointed to a spot on his desk. “When Trevor comes in, he’ll take it down to the kitchens.”

“Like a resort,” she said, curling up in a chair before the fire. “I’m getting spoiled, and it’s only been a few days.”

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