Granny James’s face softened as she looked at Harper’s belly. “Oh, Harper, I cannot tell you how much this baby means to me. To your family! To think, the James name will continue with this child.”

“The James McClellan name.”

“Will you hyphenate your name?”

Harper shook her head. “No. But he or she will have James as their middle name.”

“Yes, I suppose that is the way of things. I do hope you’ll have more than one. At least one boy. There seems to be a run of girls in the Muir family.”

“And boys in the McClellans.”

At that, Granny James brightened. “I always hoped Georgiana would remarry and have another child.”

“Mummy? Remarry?” Harper was shocked. “She couldn’t bear being married the first time. And that only lasted a few months.”

“Yes, but we got you out of it, didn’t we?”

Harper couldn’t help but smile at that. “I’d like to have a few. Maybe three. Who knows?” Harper sipped her tea, wondering.

“You should. You’ve never looked more beautiful. Pregnancy agrees with you. Your skin is positively glowing. Though I must say, I could have been knocked over by a feather when you told us the news.”

“I was dying to tell you,” Harper said, warming to the topic. “I wanted to get past the first trimester, and with you arriving at the same time, I thought the announcement at the party would be special.”

“Well, it was. As was the announcement of your minister.” At this, Granny James’s tone hardened somewhat. “Atticus Green.”

“But you didn’t have anyone else in mind for the ceremony?”

“No, I didn’t. But it might be a problem that he is . . .” Granny James paused.

“What?” Harper asked testily. “Black?”

Granny James snorted. “Don’t be ridiculous. I couldn’t care less what color he is. I was going to say he is a Southern Baptist. You’re in the Anglican Church.”

Harper laughed, relieved. “Oh, that. Don’t worry.” She tapped her baby bump. “We’ll make sure it’s legal.”

“You know”—Imogene picked up a crumpet and lavishly applied butter—“that does bring up a sticky issue. We have to contact our lawyers as soon as possible. You really must have a prenuptial agreement.”

Harper shook her head. “I don’t want one.”

“Come now, Harper, do be practical,” Granny James said impatiently. “There are countless reasons why you must get one. Most prominently, you are much wealthier than Taylor. You have your trust, of course, and that is locked tight. But when I die, you will inherit a significant portion of my estate as well. You and your issue. I shall do what I must to protect you from the grasping hands of family members, including, unfortunately, your own mother. But you must take steps to protect your inheritance in this country. In this state. We mustn’t be emotional. This is business.”

“That’s not how I see it. This is family.”

“Precisely. You are about to be a mother. You must look after your child in your womb.”

“Taylor’s child, too. He’d never do anything to hurt our child.”

“I don’t believe he would, either. And having your financial matters in order will make you both feel much more comfortable and secure as you move forward in your marriage.”

“But isn’t a prenup mean-spirited? And to spring it on him now, after the invitations have already gone out, it seems . . . premeditated.”

“No, I certainly do not think it is either of those things. You are a very wealthy woman, Harper. You must think like one. I realize you may perceive contractual agreements to be unromantic, but they work as intended. We must look not just to our own futures, but the futures of our children. You must consider them. When you inherit, the new trust will be set up to include certain provisions to stop any assets from going to your husband or his new wife should, God forbid, you divorce. Or even your child’s ex in the event of divorce. The prenup simply prevents your inheritance from me from becoming marital property. Believe me, it keeps things simple. In fact, I’d be very surprised if Taylor wasn’t expecting this. He’s a sensible man. After all, the house is already in your name.”

Harper’s face clouded. “Yes. He’s never mentioned it, but I sometimes wonder if that doesn’t bother him. Grate at his pride a bit.”

“It shouldn’t. He knows he couldn’t afford this house on his own. Where else would you live?”

“We could live in a smaller house. Off island.”

“Yes, but that’s not what you wanted, was it? You wanted Sea Breeze.”

Harper couldn’t argue this point. She did want Sea Breeze. Desperately. Not just for herself, but for Mamaw and her sisters.

Granny’s voice grew icy. “You can’t think there was any way under heaven I was going to lend you millions of dollars to buy this house with his name on the deed? You were not even married then. And even if you were, I would not have done it. I made the arrangements for Sea Breeze because of my love for you. No other reason. The stipulations I set up regarding the house protected you, as well as my investment. I’m quite careful with my money, as well you should be.”

Harper felt instantly repentant. “I’m so very grateful for what you did, Granny. You know that. But, I still don’t like the idea of a prenup.” Harper’s chest was constricting and she felt the walls of the room closing in on her. “I trust Taylor. I don’t want to think of my marriage in terms of my money versus his money. It smacks of control. Even superiority. Or worse. It makes me feel like my mother.”

“Because she had a prenup signed? Hers is a perfect example of why you need one!”

“Because it was all a business arrangement in her mind. A means to an end.”

“Come dear, let’s not argue. Bring the topic up with Taylor and see what he says. I feel quite certain you’re worried about nothing. And you can make me out to be the nasty person who is insisting.”

“Well, you are!”

Granny James lifted her shoulders and bit into her crumpet. She dabbed at her mouth daintily with the corners of the linen napkin Harper had brought. “You’ll see I’m right. It’s better to get this tied up quickly. Especially with a baby on the way.”


Tags: Mary Alice Monroe Lowcountry Summer Romance
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