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Through the Smoke Brenda Novak 2022/8/3 13:53:58

It was Geordie. He had taken Wythe’s old room. Although he insisted on being able to continue to work in the stables, he had let them talk him into moving into the house. “Hello? Are you up?”

Truman stirred. “Coming!” he called. Then he grumbled, “Is it morning already?”

“I’m afraid so,” Rachel said with a laugh.

“Um…” He pressed his lips to her temple. “Too bad. That means I have to leave you.”

“It’s nice of you to take Geordie to the colliery. To teach him how to manage your assets.”

“If he is to be steward there someday, he might as well learn while he is young.”

“He would gladly go anywhere with you.”

“He is a good boy. I love having him accompany me. And I can’t think of a better person to understand the needs of the miners.”

She felt as if, by having suggested he groom Geordie to take over the running of Stanhope & Co., she was doing her part for Tommy, her father and the other miners. She didn’t want to abandon their cause or forget her roots, and Truman had proved so understanding about that.

“Uncle Truman? Are you sure you’re getting up?” Geordie asked.

Rachel could hear the eagerness in his voice and knew Truman could too. Her little brother idolized her husband, tried to emulate everything he did. “I promise. I will be right there.”

“I’ll have the horses ready.”

The floor creaked as he hurried away.

“He has been so happy since we came here,” Rachel murmured. “I owe you for that.”

“And what about you?” Leaning up on one elbow, he stared down at her, suddenly serious. “Are you happy, my love?”

She smiled as she gazed into his handsome face, into those amber-colored eyes that had once frightened her so badly. “I couldn’t be happier.”

His hand slid over the swell of her abdomen—evidence that their baby was growing fast. “I can’t believe I almost tried to live without you.”

“You don’t mind being married to a poor village shopkeeper? You don’t mind that your son will be the offspring of a commoner?”

He kissed her extended belly. “There is nothing common about you,” he said. “There isn’t another woman on earth I would want to be the mother of my child. You are so much more than I ever dared hope for.”

She slipped her fingers through his thick hair. “I could never love anyone more.”

“That’s what I wanted to hear.” He pecked her lips. “I had better go. I don’t want to keep my brother waiting.”

Reluctantly she let him slide out of bed and, while he dressed, she enjoyed the view. But as he started to leave, she shifted her attention to Landscape With the Fall of Icarus, which they had hung in their room.

“What are you thinking?” he asked, following her gaze.

She pursed her lips. “Of the fire, everything. It seems like such a distant memory now.”

“It was all worth it,” he said.

She studied him. “You can’t mean that. You endured so much.”

His eyes met hers. “But without my particular past, I never would have found you.”