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The passion of Charles and Emily continues. Emily now has everything she could possibly wish for: a loving, handsome, dominant husband, a noble title, fine clothes, parties and wonderful holidays.
But there is one thing her heart desires more than any of those luxuries, the child she and Charles so desperately want and have not been able to conceive. As is usually the case, things are in turmoil in the Remington household, and when Emily is suddenly thrust into the role of the Duchess of Remington, she must learn to put that desire to rest in the farthest corners of her heart, at least for a time.
The rules still apply, even for a duchess, and Charles takes her to task if she breaks them. But Emily will learn, as time goes on, she is married to a man who loves and cherishes her more with each passing day, and he will do anything to fulfill her every desire.
Publisher’s Warning: A sensual Regency romance containing consensual spankings.
Lady Emily sat on her favorite bench in the lush gardens of her spacious home, Remington House, and turned the page of the book she was currently reading. It was a rare break in her hectic schedule of late, and she was so engrossed in the words on the page, she did not hear his approach.
"Ems, I might have known I would find ye here," said the deep, baritone voice she had grown to love over the years.
She looked up, her long red curls blowing slightly in the breeze, and smiled, her green eyes sparkling at the sight of the breathtakingly handsome man standing before her.
"Charles, ye have returned early," she said as she held out her hand to her husband, the Marquess of Remington.
He took the offered hand and brought it to his lips, planting a tender kiss on it before he released it and sat down beside her.
"I am sorry to disturb your respite. I know the past few weeks cannot have been easy for ye," he said as he put his arm around her.
"'Tis true, ye know me so well, my love. But ye are home now, and all shall return to normal."
He chuckled. "I fear things may never be normal for the Remington household again. So, tell me, how is darling Caroline today?"
Emily sighed. "As well as can be expected, I suppose. She stays in her bedchamber most days until after the noon hour, taking her morning meal and midday lunch in bed."
"What has the physician said?" he asked grimly.
"He agrees that she is in a very delicate condition and advises her to rest with short walks for exercise. Leave it to my dear sister-in-law to have a pampered pregnancy."
"We have all known for some time that she is of delicate stock. 'Tis only to be expected that to be with child would be a far more dramatic experience for her than for most women."
"And of course, Henry is over the moon and will stop at nothing to see that his wife receives everything her heart desires."
"As well he should be." Charles cocked his handsome head to the side and asked warily, "Emily, how are ye holding up? I realize an extra burden was placed upon ye with my absence and Caroline's condition. And with Father not well, Mother focuses her attention on him. Ye have had to run the entire household alone, not to mention the fact that I know ye are yearning to become a mother yourself."
"If ye will remember, 'tis not the first time I've taken on the task of running the household. And, one day, perhaps sooner than we wish, it shall be my duty. That has not been a problem. I have my mother and my sister to assist me. Poor Josephina has been run ragged, I am afraid. I've had to send Amanda to Caroline a few times just to give the poor girl a rest."
"My darling, I love ye so much, and not a day passes that I am not reminded of the fact ye are the perfect choice to stand beside me in this life. My heart knew what it was doing when it fell in love with ye. I had to have ye, no matter what the cost, and that has not proven to be ill-advised."
Emily blushed profusely as she often did when her husband complimented her. She had loved the future duke since she was a child, growing up on the grounds as the daughter of the duke's valet and the cook. The fact that he had always loved her as well had been a dream come true when he had finally revealed it to her. She gently caressed his cheek with her soft hand. "'Tis true, I long to feel the stirrings of a wee one in my belly, but our time has not come yet, and we must lend our love and support to your brother and his wife."
Charles took her hand and, turning it over, kissed the palm before touching her forehead with his lips. He sighed. "How is Father today?"
"About the same, I am afraid his health has not been good since…" Emily hesitated to continue. She had been about to mention the dreadful time when Charles had been taken captive during the war, and it was a time neither of them liked to be reminded of.
"I know, darling, I know," he whispered, pulling her even closer. Tilting her face up with his hand, he leaned down and touched her lips with his.
The passion between them had never waned in the years they had been together. One touch, one kiss, one look could still set her heart racing. Emily closed her eyes and parted her lips, allowing him entrance. Had they been in the privacy of their bedchamber rather than in the garden, she would have been parting more than her lips for him. Charles had her complete submission when they were alone. To everyone else at Remington House, she was the strong young woman who had proven more than once her worthiness to carry the Remington name. She was loved by all, family and staff. The noble society of London had accepted her as one of their own over the years, something that had worried her deeply when she and Charles had first planned to marry.
Charles would not have it any other way. Many times in the early days of their courtship and marriage, she had found herself over his knees whenever she voiced doubts that a union between them was not a good idea, due to the differences in their stations.
The other rule Charles had imposed upon her early on involved her sister-in-law, Lady Caroline, wife of Lord Henry. Caroline could be extremely difficult at times, and Charles expected Emily to 'get along' with her. She was free to vent to him behind closed doors, but in front of everyone else, she was to show grace and poise when dealing with Caroline's tirades.
Through the years and some of the hardships they had faced, the two women had become friends. At times, the friendship showed signs of strain, and Emily supposed it always would. All in all, they understood each other, and that was important, now especially.
The duke, who had been troubled with heart problems in the past, had relapsed in the last year. The family feared his days were numbered, and when that occurred, Charles and Emily would become the new duke and duchess. Caroline's delicate condition added stress to an already overwrought family. Emily had stepped in, as always, and attempted to make things easier for everyone.
The kiss deepened, and all thoughts of anything else were gone. Emily was lost; the only thing that existed for her at that moment was the safe and warm embrace of the man she loved.
When Charles finally broke the spell and pulled away, he said with regret in his voice, "I suppose we shall have to wait until later to resume this, my love. I must check on Father and see to business. Go back to your book." He touched the tip of her nose with his fingertip.
"I must go see to the supper preparations. I shall walk with ye," she said as she allowed him to help her up. She placed her arm in the crook of his, and together, they walked towards the great house to attend to whatever awaited them inside.
They walked in to Amanda comforting a tearful Josephina in the hallway leading off the entryway. Josephina was Lady Caroline's young maid. She had stayed with the demanding woman longer than any of the previous staff and had come to Remington House with Caroline years ago when young Lady Caroline Hampton was expected to marry Charles. In time, Caroline had grown fond of the young girl, and Josephina had learned to handle her Ladyship's moods. Whatever had happened today had reduced her to tears, however, and Emily must get to the bottom of it.
Emily looked to her sister and personal maid, Amanda, for an explanation.
Amanda informed her, "Lady Caroline told her to get out. Josephina is exhausted from catering to her all night and all morning. It shall pass, I am sure."
Emily bit her tongue to keep from saying something she would regret. Finally, she spoke in a soft tone to the young woman. "Josephina, my dear, why don't ye take a break? Go into the kitchen and ask my mum to fix ye a nice hot cup of tea. I shall check on Caroline and then join ye as I need to see how supper is coming along."
Josephina looked up with respect and gratefulness in her eyes. "Thank ye, Lady Emily. I am sure milady is feeling poorly. I should not have reacted so."
"'Tis quite understandable. Do not worry about it. Go have that tea now."
"Yes, milady." Josephina did as Emily instructed, and Amanda looked at her sister. "Thank ye, Emily. The poor thing loves Lady Caroline so much, she would do anything for her, ye know."
"I know," Emily replied with a smile. "Go on with what ye need to do. I shall see to Lady Caroline."
Charles had not commented. He had simply stood by and watched his capable and beautiful wife take charge of yet another situation. "Well done, darling," he whispered as Amanda walked away.
She smiled up at him. "I have been on both sides of the situation, ye know. I can empathize with Josephina, and I know the reasons behind Caroline's tantrums. Now, I had better see to her so I can get to the kitchen."
"And I shall see to Father and meet ye for supper, my love."
Emily flashed him a smile and ran up the staircase. When she reached the bedchamber her sister-in-law shared with Lord Henry, she knocked lightly on the door.
"Who is it?" came a weak voice from inside.
"'Tis Emily, coming to check on ye," she replied as she waited for permission to enter.
"Come on in, Emily. I welcome your company."
Emily pushed the heavy wooden door open and walked into the room. A pale-looking Caroline was sitting up in the large bed with a book on her lap.
"How are ye feeling this afternoon, Caroline? Would ye feel up to getting dressed and getting some sunshine?" she asked as she pulled up a chair and sat down.
Caroline slammed the book shut. "I am afraid I have upset poor Josephina, Emily. She was puttering around me all morning after attending to me all night. I-I must have sounded harsh when I told her to leave me be, and she ran out in tears."
"Josephina shall be fine. I sent her to the kitchen for a cup of tea with my mum. Now, how are ye? Were ye ill all night?"
"Not ill, no. The babe was restless, and I could not get comfortable to sleep. This little one is not one to be quiet."
"I am sorry. Lord Henry shall return from the city in a few days. Perhaps ye shall rest better when he is home."
"I feel certain ye are right, Emily. I miss him so when he is away. The few days he must go away for business every month is a horrible time for me. When he came back from the war, I never wanted him to leave me again."
"I understand. Charles returned from his business today, so Henry shall be home soon. Now, shall we get ye up?"
"With the duke's illness and my condition, it makes more work for all of ye, I am afraid."
"Do not fret about it, Caroline dear. The doctor says ye must have rest, good food and exercise. I intend to see that ye get it. Her Grace and Charles will see to the duke. Josephina, Henry and I will attend to ye. Come now, up ye go."
Emily helped the other woman out of the bed, and it was apparent that the babe inside her womb was growing. Caroline looked at her swollen belly and asked, "Shall I ever get my fashionable body back after this ordeal?"
"Ye will, I am sure of it. Besides, 'twill all be worth it when ye are holding that tiny bundle in your arms."
Emily went to the wardrobe and chose a loose fitting, empire-waisted pale blue gown. "This shall look lovely with your coloring. Now, let me help ye wash up, and we shall get ye outside for some fresh air and perhaps a walk."
"Thank ye, Emily." Caroline allowed her sister-in-law to help her, and before long, the two were walking down the steps together, Emily holding Caroline's arm for support.
Josephina was coming up the steps. When she saw them, she smiled brightly and said, "If ye are going for a walk, I can accompany ye."
Caroline replied, "That would be lovely, Josephina. I am sure Emily has things to attend to. Did ye enjoy your tea?"
And all was well again, for now. Caroline and her maid went outside, while Emily headed to the kitchen.
She plopped down at the kitchen table. Mrs. Crawley, her mum, looked over at her. "Rough day, dear?"
"Ye might say that. I have just gotten Caroline out of bed and out into the fresh air. Josephina is with her, and for now, all is well again with those two."
Her mum handed her a cup of piping hot tea. "Here, ye look like ye need this. Josephina was fine by the time she had a brief rest and some tea and scones."
"Thank ye," Emily said gratefully as she sipped the hot brew. "How is the evening meal coming along?"
"Everything is simmering. It shall be ready to serve on time. I sent a tray to the duke's chamber earlier. Any word on his condition today?"
"Charles arrived home a little while ago. He is with him now."
"Her Grace stopped by for a chat earlier. The poor dear is exhausted."
Emily smiled. "It seems this has been your day for visitors to the kitchen. 'Tis a safe haven for staff and family alike."
"I would not have it any other way, my dear. Your father has been kept very busy since the duke fell ill, as have all of ye."
"I worry for Her Grace. Ye are right, she is so tired, but will not hear of anyone caring for His Grace but herself."
"She shall be lost without him."
"We shan't talk like that. Hopefully, he shall pull through this bad spell as he has all the others."
"Perhaps, but how many times can that happen?" her mother asked sadly.
"I do not know," Emily replied. She stared at the remaining tea in her cup.
"Rest, my dear. Ye, too, have taken on a great many responsibilities. I cannot have the entire family getting sick on me."
"The Remingtons have gotten through other bad times. We shall survive these times as well."
* * *
Mrs. Crawley looked at her younger daughter with pride. She had not been sure about a marriage between Emily and Charles, but Emily had shown her true strength through the years. And Charles was a loving husband, what more could she ask for? Her thoughts wandered to her older daughter, Amanda. Married to one of the Remington's groomsman, Thomas, she was happy in her marriage as well. Both girls had chosen their life partners well. Amanda and Thomas were content to be in service to the Remington family and to raise their future family on the grounds. Amanda was her sister's personal maid, and it was a position she attended to with great pride. The Remingtons were close to their staff, they treated them as family, and in a way, now, they really were family with the union between Charles and Emily.
* * *
"Thank ye for the tea, mum. I should check on Caroline."
Her mother nodded, and Emily went out the back door, taking the long way around to the porch. No one was there, so Josephina must have convinced Lady Caroline to walk. Emily found them in the garden. Caroline was walking along the row of spring flowers that were blooming and enjoying the scent.
"I found ye! Are ye having a lovely walk?" Emily asked when she joined them.
Caroline turned. "Oh, yes, Emily. We have had a nice chat and a wonderful time. Should we head back now?"
"Supper is nearly ready. We probably should go back to the house soon. I do not want ye to get overtired. Ye need to sit down and have a nice meal."
"Will Her Grace be joining us?" she asked.
"I sincerely hope so. It is my hope that Charles shall be able to convince her to do so."
They were both surprised to see not only Her Grace at the dinner table when they entered, but the duke, as well.
"What a lovely surprise," Emily said as she leaned over to plant a kiss on top of her father-in-law's head.
"'Tis good to see ye up and around, Your Grace," Caroline added.
"The doctor told me yesterday that if I felt up to it, I should begin getting up a few times a day. I shall require rest, but in moderation, I shall try to join ye more often," the duke told them.
"That is wonderful news," Caroline said.
"And how are ye feeling, my dear? I am sorry I have not been able to spend more time with ye," the duchess said to Caroline.
"I miss Henry, and our little one seems to choose the nighttime to decide to move about. I am following the physician's orders and getting plenty of rest. Emily is making certain I also eat regularly and exercise. And my poor Josephina…she wears herself out for me."
"Ye are lucky to have her. She adores ye, ye know," Emily said.
"Yes, indeed, very lucky," Caroline agreed. "I may not always convey that to her, I am afraid, but I am most fortunate."
The staff served the first course, and as they began to eat, the duke asked Charles about his business trip.
"'Twas quite successful, I am happy to report. Henry shall return in a few days, and I hope he shall have good news as well."
"It seems ye boys are making sure the Remington holdings are secure and growing. Very admirable," the duke said.
The duchess smiled. "We are fortunate in many ways. We have sons who are running the family business, and we have two wonderful daughters-in-law. Soon, we shall welcome a new member to the family. And now, my dear, ye are slowly regaining your health. Much to be thankful for, indeed."
They all nodded in agreement.