“My last meal,” Lord John Tremont bemoaned as he tucked his knife and fork into the thick cut of beef before him. “But at least it is a fine one.”
“I suppose it helps that I am paying for all that, eh, Jack?” his best friend, Alexander Denford, Baron Sedgwick, commented dryly.
“You owe me nothing less,” Jack replied between bites.
“I owe you?” Alex laughed. “Now, I’m not one to call accounts between friends, but truly I don’t see how I owe you.” He refilled his glass from the bottle the innkeeper had left for them. Given that it was French and very dear, he knew he’d best get a few glasses in before his friend decided to attack the rare vintage with the same fervor as the roast beef. “Now, let me see, there was that rather large marker of yours I signed for last month at White’s.”
“Pocket change,” Jack said with a wave of his hand.
“And the lady of questionable character for whom I bought that bracelet because you feared losing her to old Ambercrombie?”
“That was a matter of honor.” Jack reached for another slice of beef. “Besides, can you imagine me losing Camilla’s affections to that fossil?” He shuddered, then eyed the claret.
Alex nudged it out of reach. “And what about that pair of cattle you had to have at Tatt’s but you hadn’t the blunt?”
Jack grinned. “Necessities, my good man. Besides, that was nothing more than I would do for you.”
“The only difference is that I have the money to afford all these necessities, whereas you do not.”
Jack’s fork paused between his plate and mouth. “Sedgwick, what the devil is wrong with you? You sound like my palsy brother tonight. What has you in such a foul temper?”
“Nothing,” Alex told him. “But I still don’t see how I can owe you anything.”
Jack grinned and leaned forward. “Have you forgotten your dear wife, Emmaline? Without me, you would never have obtained her devoted attentions. I think that leaves you utterly in my debt.”
This time Alex did laugh. “You think I owe you because of my wife? Some nerve, that.” He picked up the bottle of claret and poured his friend a glass. Jack Tremont was an annoying sponge, but he was also Alex’s best friend. Despite his spendthrift ways and penchant for peccadilloes, a more loyal friend Alex had never known.
“I think the success of your marriage was a stroke of genius, and worthy of unending reward,” Jack said, raising his glass in a mock toast, most likely to himself.
Worthy of something, Alex mused. “My marriage is successful because I have the wit and wherewithal to bring it off. If you must know, it is careful planning and intelligence that make it work. You were merely the catalyst to seeing it come to life.”
His friend snorted. “Sedgwick, you are the most stodgy fellow alive. Careful planning and intelligence, indeed! Emmaline was the best thing that ever happened to you. She keeps you from being a complete dullard.”
“I am not dull,” Alex said, straightening his shoulders. “I’ll have you know some people consider me quite the dasher.”
“Who?” Jack demanded. “Ambercrombie’s ancient mother?”
Alex nudged the bottle of claret back out of reach. Then he looked up at Jack and they both broke into companionable laughter.
“I will own that I am perhaps not the first Corinthian people think of,” Alex admitted, “but I have my position and the responsibility of my family to consider.” And what a family it was. He had no brothers and sisters, but scads of cousins and aunts and uncles who relied on his benevolence to keep them employed and housed and fed, not to mention his tenants and servants. It was a burden he took with great seriousness and pride, though there were many times when he envied his friend’s situation — a third son and unlikely to inherit. Jack’s legacy would mostly be a lifetime of scandalous memories and unpaid vowels.
Jack shuddered. “Gads, how I detest those words. Position and responsibility.” He tossed back the claret and pushed his empty glass forward. “I propose we change the subject, for you are sounding more and more like Parkerton. It is bad enough he has summoned me home for my annual accounting. I daresay, no one can tally accounts with more excruciating detail than my brother.” Jack took another bite of roast beef. “By the by, how is dear Emmaline? You don’t know how many times I’ve kicked myself for not marrying the chit myself.”
“Happily,” Alex told him, “there is only one Emmaline.”
“Is she in London or Westmoreland at present?”
“You know the answer to that.” Alex glanced over at the door. It wasn’t closed, but it was nearly shut and there seemed to be no one about.
“No, I don’t really,” Jack said, leaning back in his chair. “I mean when you are in London, the dear girl is supposedly happily awaiting your return to Westmoreland. And when you are home in the country, your family believes her to be living in London.” Jack leaned forward. “So I pose this puzzle — where does the chit reside when you are in neither place?”
Alex laughed. “That is why you could never manage such a marriage. I’ll say it again: careful planning and intelligence.” He tapped his skull. “Those are the reasons why I am married to Emmaline and you are not.”
“Bother both your smug assurances. Your hide is safe because your grandmother remains encamped in the north. Can you imagine if she ever decided to venture to town and discovered that Emmaline was nothing more than a figment of your imagination?”
Since that would never happen, he had no worries the dear lady would ever discover the truth.
That Emmaline Denford, Lady Sedgwick, had come to life one night five years earlier after too many hours of carousing with Jack. It wasn’t that Alex drank often, but he’d been in low spirits and his friend had offered him a night away from the problems plaguing him — especially when Alex had declared he was leaving town the next morning.
Jack had protested vehemently against such a plan, for who would pay his drinks and debts if his best friend left London?
But Alex was tired of being harassed at every turn by marriage-minded mothers and their conniving daughters. It seemed that the entire eligible female population of London had set their cap to see him married that Season. Never mind that it was a well-known fact, that Sedgwick barons were rather unpredictable when it came to marriage, marrying late in life, if at all. For some it had been a case of wanderlust, like his grandfather, who spent most of his adult life in the army, having inherited his title late in his career from a cousin who’d never wed.
Perhaps Alex should have just made it a point to avoid London during the Season altogether, like his own father had, knowing too well that all anyone saw in him was the old and respected title, vast holdings in the north and the wealth to support even the most spendthrift of wife and in-laws. All that was just too tempting a lure for a mother with a unmarried daughter.
“No, there’s no way around it, my good man,” Jack had said. “You need to get married. That would get the cats off your back.”
“Married?” Alex shuddered. He just wasn’t sure he could take that next step. Certainly it was a matter of duty, but something held him back from taking that all-too-essential plunge. Besides, a wife, he was convinced, would be tempted to start reorganizing his perfectly ordered life. “I’d rather see Hubert inherit,” he declared.
“Never!” Jack drained the expensive champagne with a long guzzle. “Do you think Hubert would be inclined to pay my vowels? I think not!” He paused and raked a hand through his hair. “Why couldn’t you get married, but not actually take a bride? Invent one, so to say. I’d wager that if you placed a notice in the Post, told the world you’d married, they’d all leave you alone.”
It had been that simple. Alex had always considered himself a sensible fellow, but he’d been desperate, and in a flash, Emmaline was created. With a proper and likely lineage found, with the help of an old copy of Debrett’s, they’d dashed off a notice and tipped a lad to deliver it forthwith to the paper.
And to his utter amazement, his faux bride had done the trick. The night after the announcement appeared, he’d been left blissfully alone, with only a few scathing glances shot in his direction from his more persistent, now former, pursuers. To the few curious who’d dared question his sudden marriage, he declared Emmaline to be in poor health and living in seclusion in the country. His stodgy reputation offered its own advantage, for then he’d give a strict, uninviting stare that cut off any further inquiries.
The arrival of Emmaline into his life had also given him the added bonus of eliminating his grandmother’s nagging. Well, most of it. She’d written to him with her overjoyed blessings that he had finally wed.
When he’d returned home that summer, he’d explained his wife’s absence by stating that her delicate health prevented her from traveling so far. When he’d returned the next Season, any inquiries about Lady Sedgwick were met with the same explanation — Emmaline’s health prevented her from traveling to London.
And thus, the perfect wife had entered his life.
Though not everyone was convinced of the wisdom of his solution. His solicitor had warned him time and time again that a false wife was but asking for trouble. Bother the authorities, Alex had told the man, for there would be worse hell to pay if his grandmother discovered the truth. Then again, his grandmother’s distaste for London was the key to Emmaline’s existence, or rather lack of one.
“How is it that your grandmother hasn’t discovered your secret?” Jack asked eyeing the roast beef and the wine and in an apparent dilemma as to which to go after next. “I mean, if anyone is likely to ferret out an incongruity, it is her.”
“Right you are, but then again,” Alex said, tapping his skull, “careful planning has ensured my success. As it is, my solicitor’s wife pens a carefully worded letter to Grandmère every six weeks and signs it as Emmaline.”
“I suppose being dull has its advantages,” Jack admitted. “Why, you’ve thought of everything.” He rose up and leaned over the table, his long arm reaching for and succeeding in gaining the bottle of claret. He filled his glass and then topped off Alex’s.
Raising his glass in a toast, he said, “To Emmaline Denford, Baroness Sedgwick, the most perfect wife ever.”
“To Emmaline,” Alex agreed.
In the shadows outside the private dining room, a woman retreated from the partially opened door. She hadn’t meant to eavesdrop, but the conversation inside had caught her ear, and she’d found herself spellbound by the revelations.
Sedgwick’s wife didn’t exist?
It was so unbelievable, she thought as she silently made her way out of the inn and to the waiting carriage. Oh this information was far too valuable, far too scandalous not to be put to good use immediately.
And she knew exactly where to start . . .
For his first month home at Sedgwick Abbey, Alex found himself in blessed solitude.
Instead of being there to greet him, his grandmother had decided to remain at her sister-in-law’s for an additional month, most likely unable to leave until they had caught up on every bit of family gossip. Therefore, his summer began with no pestering talk of heirs, no lengthy discussions of Emmaline’s continued ill health, just a continuation of his perfectly ordered life that Jack had the audacity to call “boring.”
But eventually his grandmother had decided she could no longer leave him to his lonely exile, and had returned home like a whirlwind, her herd of pugs trotting in her wake.
Genevieve Denford, Lady Sedgwick, had been born in France, and the sixty-odd years she’d been in England hadn’t diminished her Gallic presence in the least.
His grandfather, another reluctant-to-be-wed Denford, had taken a trip to Paris in his late sixties and had brought home (to the horror of his own heir apparent) a French wife.
Given his grandmother’s joie de vivre, Alex doubted his grandfather had stood a chance.
A lesson to all unmarried English gentlemen, he’d decided years ago. Never venture across the Channel.
Grandmère had greeted him merrily when he’d come into breakfast and hadn’t stopped talking since. “And imagine Imogene’s shock when I told her . . .” she was saying from her end of the table, where she sat encircled by her dogs.
It had been quiet without Grandmère, he mused as she barely paused between bites to regale him with tales of his great-aunt’s grandchildren, and horrors, a few great-grandchildren. Heirs abounded in Aunt Imogene’s world, and he knew the next few months would see no end of hinting and prodding that he and Emmaline should be doing the same as well — producing the next Sedgwick baron.
He’d have to make a note to his solicitor to have his wife’s next letter from Emmaline detail a litany of female complaints that would unhappily prevent such an event. The more, the better. He hoped that would keep Grandmère sufficiently diverted through grouse season.
The door to the dining room opened and Burgess, their butler, entered, staggering beneath a large silver tray. Behind him, a footman followed with an even bigger tray, just as laden with papers and notes.
“My lord, a pouch from Mr. Elliott’s office arrived this morning along with the mail,” Burgess said, setting his burden on the dining table before Alex. “To be specific, there were three pouches.” His bushy brows rose. “Large ones.”
Alex stared up at the monumental pile, his knife and fork held in midair. “What the devil is all that?”
Burgess, being ever the diligent butler, replied, “The regular newspapers and periodicals for her ladyship, but the remainder appear mostly to be bills, my lord.”
“Bills?” Alex looked at the collection again. He’d instructed his London solicitor to take care of all his outstanding accounts. Besides, that pile looked like something Jack had run up, not him.
“Unlike Elliott to be so inefficient,” Alex muttered, as he began to sort through the mess. “Ah, here is the answer. Seems Mr. Elliott’s wife has inherited property in Scotland and needed to inspect the place. His clerk is attending to all his business in his absence. I’ll have to speak to him when he returns — the fellow has obviously gotten my accounts mixed up with some wastrel client of his.”
“What is it, my dear?” his grandmother asked from her end of the table, where she was dropping tidbits to her dear dogs.
He waved his hands over the pile of bills. “Just the London papers and such.”
“The papers! Why didn’t you say so?” She rose and hustled down the side of the long table, her lace cap aflutter. Before Alex could stop her, she swept aside the neatly arranged piles to get to her most favorite thing in the world — the gossip column in the Morning Post. Separating the pages with the skill of a farmer’s wife plucking a hen, she had her quarry in her clutches in a flash and settled into the chair next to Alex to begin reading.
Not aloud, I hope, he thought as he continued his sorting.
He was rewarded with a minute or so of silence before she couldn’t contain herself.
“Lady Vassar had a baby. A son, it says.” She sighed and then shot him a significant glance. “An heir is so important, don’t you think, Alex?”
“Yes, of course,” he agreed, his gaze stopping on one of the bills before him. Four hundred pounds for carpets. Another expenditure listed furniture for one hundred and fifty pounds. Bills for drapers, carpenters, painters, and that was only the start. Why, it appeared the poor sot for whom these notes had been intended had outfitted not only a new house, but a wife and stable of mistresses, what with the unending collection of milliner, modiste, glover, and lace bills.
“And finally a mention of our dear girl,” his grandmother was saying. “Listen to this: Lady S. was seen shopping diligently with the assistance of Lady R, who has taken her new friend under her wing. Lady S., so long from town, is a delight and sure to be the prized guest next Season.” She pursed her lips. “About time she was mentioned. But what an odd thing to say. Why would they think her so long from town when she has lived there all her life?” She tossed aside the paper and began once again upsetting Alex’s carefully wrought piles with her rustling.
“Madame!” He rose up from his seat and covered the bills with his arms to protect them from her marauding. “What has gotten into you?”
“I just want to see some more recent columns.” She cocked her head and eyed the collection again. Before he could stop her, she spied her prize and caught hold of another paper, tugging it free and settling into her chair with a speed that belied her eighty-some years.
“I think you’ve gone mad,” he muttered. Though with her nose buried in another edition of the Post, he doubted she heard him. “Didn’t you get enough of that prattle while visiting Aunt Imogene?”
“Imogene doesn’t take the Post,” came the frosty reply.
That had to be the eighth wonder of the world, in his estimation, right behind the Tower of Pharos. He didn’t know anyone more addicted to gossip than his Great-Aunt Imogene — that is, save his grandmother.
He turned his attention back to the bills at hand, tossing aside the ones that were obviously not his and the few that needed his attention.
His grandmother shook out the pages as she searched for her beloved column. “I knew it!”
And he knew she’d continue to interrupt him until he replied, so he said, “Knew what?”
“Knew she’d be mentioned again. But I don’t know if I should read it to you. You’ll be in a dither for the rest of the week.”
Alex gave up all hope of having a decent morning meal. In peace. “Go ahead,” he told her. “Or you’ll be huffing and puffing until I relent.”
“I never puff,” she said in a voice that sounded remotely like a huff. “But if you insist: It is a good thing there are so few people in town, for Lady S. creates a stir wherever she is seen. One wonders what the baron is thinking sending such an Original to town without his watchful eye about.”
He held out his hands and shrugged. “And how is that supposed to put me into a ‘dither’?”
She held out the paper for him as if the answer were as clear as the printed words before his eyes. “Don’t you see? It’s Emmaline they are talking about. Your wife. Our dear girl.”
“Emmaline? Preposterous.” he scoffed. “Grandmère, there are a dozen or more ‘Lady S’s’ gadding about town on any given day. I assure you, that is not our Emmaline.”
“And why ever not?”
“Because Emmaline would never comport herself in a manner that would be of any interest to a gossip column. ‘Tis absolutely impossible.” Alex had never issued a statement with more confidence.
But that was the problem with confidence, occasionally it needed to be shaken, and Baron Sedgwick was about to be rattled right down to the roots of his illustrious, as well as fictional, family tree.
“Then why does it go on to say the following? From the amount of tradesmen seen coming and going at Hanover Square, it is said traffic has become a nuisance.” She glanced up at him. “Hmmm. How many “Lady S.’s ” reside on Hanover Square these days, Alex? For I can only think of one.” She shook her paper again and went back to her reading.
His mouth opened to argue with her, but he couldn’t get the words past his suddenly dry throat.
Tradesmen on Hanover Street? Near his residence? Enough to cause traffic problems?
His gaze shot to the pile of errant bills and he grabbed up the first one he could put his fingers on.
If his throat was dry, his heart nearly stopped as he spied at the top of the bill the telltale evidence to support his grandmother’s outlandish theory.
No. 17, Hanover Street.
How had he not noticed this before? Of course, why would he? Imaginary wives did not go on shopping sprees capable of beggaring an Eastern prince.
He shuffled through the notes before him, and to his horror they all had the same delivery address. His London address. And every single one was addressed as being the purchase of The Right Hon. Lady Sedgwick.
Not the gloating dowager peering over the top of her newspaper as she watched him come to the conclusion he’d pompously told her was impossible. But the current Lady Sedgwick.
“This can’t be right!” he said, grabbing the paper out of her hands and reading the entry for himself.
“Oh, Alex, do settle down. A lady is entitled to make some changes to her home from time to time. I’ve always thought that house on Hanover Square was a veritable mausoleum. If your grandfather hadn’t been so tight-fisted, I would have — ”
But her words fell to a stop as she glanced up and realized she was talking to an empty chair.
Alex, it seemed, had departed. One would hope, she mused, for London. Back to his wife.
“Right where he belongs,” she said to the closest pug, scratching the dog indulgently.
His trip to town most likely set a record, if Alex had been of a mind to consider such things. He’d been far too occupied envisioning the scenes of complete and utter disaster awaiting him in London.
Emmaline? Impossible, he kept telling himself. But there she was in the Post and the Times.
Someone had let slip his secret. But who? It couldn’t have been Elliott or his wife, or Simmons, his London butler. All three of them owed him their very livelihoods.
So that left only one suspect.
It would be just like his puckish friend to think that bringing Emmaline to life would be a good jest.
Yet that left so many other unanswered questions. Such as, how had she gotten into the house? Simmons, having served the family for over forty years, would never allow such a calamity to sully the Sedgwick name.
Then, after that, he had to consider who else had seen this imposter. He shuddered to think if any of his extended family had come to call after seeing the accounts in the paper. Or, worse yet, had come to London and used the Sedgwick town house, as was the custom. He’d always been generous about extending the house to family during the off season and knew that his cousins and aunts and uncles often took advantage of this standing invitation.
And right now this person was living in his house, sleeping in his bed and passing herself off as his wife. Possibly even entertaining his family.
He buried his head in his hands. Lord, he could well imagine the type of doxy Jack would hire to impersonate Emmaline.
Entertaining his relations took on an entirely new meaning.
When his carriage turned the corner onto Hanover Square just after one in the morning, to his relief he found that his toplofty neighborhood looked much as it had when he’d left it a month or so ago. Dignified and proper. And Number Seventeen appeared just as it should, the house of a respected member of the ton.
Hard to believe that inside, catastrophe awaited him.
The carriage pulled to a stop and he bounded out and up the front steps, running through the list he had compiled.
First he was going to toss this imposter into the streets. After that was completed, he was going to hunt up Jack and give him a thorough thrashing.
Then he was going to get very drunk. And make his former friend pay for every bottle, if he had to pay for it with his confounded flesh.
When he got to the door, it didn’t open immediately as was the case when he was in town for the Season. Since he kept only a limited staff in London during the summer months, the door was locked, even to him.
He pulled the bell, then rapped on the panel with his walking stick as if every moment counted.
Well, it did.
He heard Simmons coming up from the back. Actually it was his muttering complaints that echoed forth.
“Who is it?” Simmons called out from behind the barred portal.
“Open up, it is Sedgwick.”
“Sedgwick, indeed,” Simmons shot back. “His lordship is in the country. Go on with you, and play your tricks elsewhere.”
And then, much to Alex’s chagrin, the candle that had lit the entryway began to retreat back into the house. He pounded on the door anew. “Simmons!” he bellowed. “Open this door at once or I’ll tell your wife about your Thursday night card games.”
The retreating light came to a fast halt. “My lord?”
“Yes, Simmons, ‘tis me. Now open the door.”
There was a shuffle near the door, a rattle of the latch and then it opened wide.
“My lord, what are you doing here?”
Alex swept inside. “Why do you think I’m here? She’s here, isn’t she?” He knew he was bellowing, but demmit, it wasn’t every day one met his wife.
And had the rare pleasure of getting rid of her.
The butler glanced up the stairs and put his finger to his lips. “Sssh, my lord, or you’ll wake her ladyship. She had a rather long day and retired early.”
Alex stopped, one foot poised on the stairs. He couldn’t have heard Simmons correctly. For he swore he heard concern in the butler’s voice.
Concern? For this imposter? Alex held his temper in check for the moment. And lowered his voice. “Simmons, you know as well as I that whoever is up there isn’t my wife.”
Simmons nodded. “Yes, my lord. But no one else does.”
That’s good news. But it still didn’t explain the more important question. “What were you thinking, letting her into the house?”
The butler heaved a great sigh, as if untangling himself from a mighty coil. “She arrived on a Thursday night.”
Alex groaned. Of course, she arrived on the one night Simmons traditionally took off.
“Thomas, the second footman, was the only one about,” Simmons said, continuing his tale. “He didn’t know what to do, so he went and fetched Mrs. Simmons. By the time I got home, her ladyship had been put to bed and two of the maids sent for to return to service.” He leaned forward. “I could hardly put her out with everyone fussing over her like that. There would have been talk.”
Alex glanced once more up the stairs. “So how many people have seen her?”
Simmons flinched. “Enough.”
“What do you mean by enough? Or rather, who do you mean?”
The butler squirmed again. “If it is any consolation, my lord, your wife seems quite popular. So much so, that— ”
Alex didn’t want to hear another word about it. He started up the stairs. Ensconced in his house for well over a month and she’d already become popular. He wanted to groan.
There was only one solution.
This wily minx was about to make him a very contented widower.
As Simmons had said, it had been a very busy afternoon at the house on Hanover Square and Lady Sedgwick had sought her bed early, dropping into an exhausted, dreamless slumber in the secure peace of her home.
That is until the door of her bedchamber burst open. It rattled on the hinges and banged into the wall with a furious slam.
Emmaline sat bolt upright and stared at the caped stranger marauding into her sanctuary as if he had every right.
So she did what any lady of the ton would do when her honor was in peril. She pulled a small pistol from under her pillow and pointed it with dead-eyed aim at the intruder.
So perhaps she hadn’t gotten this lady of the manor part down completely, but it was what she would do.
“Stay where you are, sirrah, or it will be the last thing you do.”
He ignored her warning completely, coming closer. The candle he held aloft cast a circle of light around them both. His gaze fell first on her face, then like any raving midnight visitor, it strayed lower, to the opening of her lacy nightrail.
Instinctively, she used her free hand to gather it up, blocking his view.
Thus thwarted, his gaze fell to the pistol in her hand and one regal brow rose. “Put that away!”
“I will not,” she said, her hand shaking. She didn’t really want to kill anyone, but the way her hand was starting to tremble, she was afraid she was going to accidentally shoot the miscreant. Worse, now that he held the candle up, she could also see that he was devilishly handsome and well dressed.
Hardly some Seven Dials cutthroat.
From the imperious twist of his lips, the strong line of his jaw, to the upright, impossibly steely stance, he had to be wellborn. Gads, probably some drunken rake out to make a name for himself by seducing Sedgwick’s wife.
That put his intentions in an entirely different light. He didn’t look like the type of man a woman would deny easily.
Herself included. She’d always had a weakness for impossibly handsome men, especially dark-haired ones. They were as irresistible as the rustle of a new deck of cards being shuffled.
Then she stopped herself — what was she thinking? She had a reputation to uphold. She was a lady now. At least for the time being.
And as a lady, she had a duty to protect her virtue. Yes, that was exactly what she should do, she decided, as she took one last regretful look at the magnificent man before her. “Simmons! Simmons! Help!” she cried out.
“He won’t be forthcoming,” the villain told her.
More’s the pity, she wanted to say, but still she couldn’t let this arrogant lout get the best of her.
At least not without the appearance of a struggle.
She waved the gun at him again. “My husband will not take kindly to this intrusion.”
The fellow just laughed, his gaze raking over her with a measure of appreciation. “I don’t think he’ll mind.”
Well, if Sedgwick doesn’t mind . . . Emmaline shook off that errant thought. “I assure you, he will kill you for this.”
“I doubt it.”
Smug bastard. She sat up straighter and pointed toward the door. “Get out.”
Of course, when she’d pointed at the door, she’d had to let go of her nightrail, and it fell open again, giving him a generous view of her breasts.
Her order was completely ignored. Instead, he came closer until he stood at the foot of the bed. Emmaline scooted up the mattress, dragging the sheets with her, pulling them up to her chin. “When my husband returns from . . . from . . .”
Oh, demmit, where was it that Sedgwick had his ancestral home?
“Westmoreland,” the fiend offered.
“Yes, thank you,” she replied. “When my husband returns from Westmoreland, rest assured, he will kill you.”
“Have you ever considered, Lady Sedgwick, that perhaps he already has?”
“Has what?” she asked, the pistol trembling anew in her hand.
It was at that moment that Emmaline Denford, Lady Sedgwick realized she was about to shoot her husband.
The very notion startled her so much, she dropped the pistol. And then the damned thing fired for her.