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To Take This Lord

(An Improper Proposal)


(ISBN: 0-8217-7525-1)





Blanks had revisited every schoolboy prank he and George--now Lord Sedgewick--had ever instigated. Anything to keep George's mind off the grim lying-in taking place beyond the door to Lady Sedgewick's bedchamber. It had taken all Blanks's efforts to keep George from storming into his wife's rooms when he had heard Dianna moaning in pain.

No matter how amusing Blanks was, George could scarcely attend to his words. A chilling, foreboding fear like nothing he had ever experienced gripped him. He thought back to when Dianna had given birth to their first, Georgette. The attending physician had deemed it a remarkably simple birth in spite of the nine hours his beloved Dianna had writhed in pain.

'Twas said the second one would come quicker, but already it had been ten hours and there was no sound of a babe.

With sickening apprehension, George was coming to believe something had happened to the babe. As disappointing as that would be, he could accept it. He could accept anything except losing Dianna. The very thought of Dianna dying caused his stomach to restrict and left him feeling strangled of all life. He could not bear such contemplation.

He looked up at Blanks. George's voice splintered when he said, "Something's wrong." As soon as he said it, he wished he could retract his words. Poor Blanks would be a father for the first time before the month was out, and George had no business alarming his friend. For Blanks was as besotted over George's sister Glee--Blanks's wife--as George was over Dianna. If that were possible. Though George was convinced no one could love more than he loved Dianna. Never had a more perfect, more beautiful creature graced the planet. Not even his sisters, Felicity and Glee.

"You're just imagining things," Blanks said. Though Blanks attempted a reassuring voice, his own fears caused his voice to crack.

George turned when he heard footsteps mounting the stairs, and he saw Felicity's blonde hair. She was accompanied by her husband, Thomas Moreland. George could never look at Moreland and not be struck over the resemblance between him and Dianna, Moreland's sister.

"Do we have a baby yet?" inquired Felicity, whose face lifted into a smile.

George sighed. "Not yet. I'm frightfully worried."

Felicity set a gentle hand on his arm. "Don't worry. She'll be fine. I'll go check on her right now." Then she disappeared into the viscountess's chambers.

A quick glance at Moreland caused George to become even more upset. For Dianna's brother's face had become ashen. Thomas pulled up a Chippendale chair and sat beside George and Blanks. "How long's it been?"

George swallowed. "Ten hours."

Thomas's brows lowered. "I had thought it wouldn't take so long the second time."

"That's what I thought," George said.

The door to Lady Sedgewick's room squeaked open, and George looked up to gaze at Felicity. And his heart sank. Tears streamed from her blue eyes.

George leaped to his feet. "What is it?" he shouted. "Is it Dianna?"

She slowly nodded, then she burst into tears.

George did not hear Moreland's hoarse scream or Blanks's sharp intake of breath. He had entered his wife's dark chamber. He ignored his very-increasing sister Glee, who stood clutching Dianna's hand, tears flowing unchecked down her face.

They had to be wrong! Dianna couldn't be dead! He reverently approached her canopied bed and looked down at her lily-white face, her dark hair damp around her temple, her long lashes closed as if she were asleep. Even after all this time, his heart clenched whenever he beheld her gentle beauty.

For a few hopeful seconds he allowed himself to believe her alive. His beautiful wife was merely asleep. With tears pooling in his eyes, he went to caress her face with his palm. As soon as his flesh touched her cold skin, he knew. A primeval sound broke from him. "No-o-o-o-o!"

He drew her limp body into his arms and sobbed.

He must have held his precious Dianna to him for an hour before Glee urged him to let her go. "You must come and see you son, George," she whispered.

With one last racking sob, George let go of Dianna's lifeless body and whirled at his sister. "I want no part of the babe! He killed his mother!"

Then George stormed from the chamber.

Read Chapter 1 of  An Improper Proposal


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