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
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
"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
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