A Loving Scoundrel Page 41

He loved her, really, really loved her. She wondered if she would ever stop being incredulous over that. And he was miserable over their short separation, said he even got foxed for the first time in his life. Well, actually, he said he was doubtful he did, but that his father, two uncles, and Percy all claimed he’d done exactly that, so he had to allow it might have happened.

Evelyn surprised Danny by sending for Dagger and Lucy, as well as all the children. She’d sent three coaches to collect them all and wasn’t going to let them return to London. She’d decided to take up Danny’s cause and support an orphanage herself. Robert had had two properties nearby, both of which belonged to Danny now, and one of them would be a perfect environment for children to be raised in. Dagger would run it, but under Evelyn’s supervision.

They didn’t get along well at first. He didn’t like the thought of working with a grand lady. She resented that he’d gotten to raise her daughter. They did a lot of snapping at each other, but it calmed down after they finally got used to each other and worked out the details.

Jeremy’s servants were also invited to the wedding. They were friends of Danny’s, after all. Danny had decided to offer Claire the chance to change jobs, thought she might be happier working with children. And she’d been right. Claire jumped at the opportunity, andshe and Dagger hit it off right from their first meeting. Dagger usually took getting used to, but Claire had too much confidence these days to be intimidated by him.

Dagger, in a fine suit for the wedding, had undergone a remarkable transformation. He’d shaved for the occasion as well and was humbled by his own appearance. Danny was reminded why she’d thought of him as “family” for so many years. She’d already forgiven him for kicking her out, especially since she would probably never have seen Jeremy again if he hadn’t. And she’d amazed him by asking him to escort her down the flower-strewn path to the altar, to give her away.

Lucy, in fancy new togs as well, cried like a banshee during the ceremony. So did Evelyn. Danny shed a few tears under her lovely veil, too, but only because she was bursting with joy as she said the vows that joined her to Jeremy Malory. She might not have gotten the respectable husband she’d had in mind when she’d first determined to get one, but she’d landed one who was so much more than that, the most sought-after man in all of London, and he was all hers now.

He hadn’t gotten to see her before the wedding. He’d arrived the night before, but she’d been sent to bed early and had been busy all morning getting ready. When she’d joined him at the altar was the first time she’d seen him in several weeks, so it was little wonder the kiss he gave her after they were pronounced man and wife was a bit prolonged and had to be broken up with numerous coughs that didn’t work, and finally his father slamming a hand on his back to congratulate him. Bleeding well nearly knocked them both over.

Every single Malory had shown up for the wedding, so Danny got to meet those she hadn’t met yet, including the children, since she’d requested that they be allowed to attend. The Malory family really was much larger than she’d thought, and she was one of them now, which was another wish of hers granted, to have a big family. In fact, between her mother and Jeremy, all of her hopes and dreams had been fulfilled, with just one exception, which she mentioned to Jeremy that night as they lay in the huge master bed inher house, her father’s ancestral home, which was hers now until she had a son old enough to claim it and the title, baron, that went with it.

They’d just spent several hours making up for missing each other. The bedcovers were in disarray. She was lying against Jeremy’s chest, his arms firmly around her. She wasn’t the least bit tired yet. Neither was he.

“We’ll have to air out this place a bit more. It’s still a bit musty,” Jeremy was saying.

Danny agreed. “It was only recently cleaned, had been closed down all these years.” Then she thought to ask, “Did you want to live here?”

“No,” he replied, then asked after a long pause, “Did you?”

“No, I rather like your house better. It’s much easier to clean.”

He sat up abruptly and frowned down at her. “Don’t eventhink of still cleaning that house, Danny. I mean it. Your days of wielding a duster are over.”

She chuckled at him, pulling him back down so she could get comfortable again. “I was just teasing. I’m quite aware of my elevated circumstance.”

He mumbled, “It’s a bloody good thing I wasn’t aware of it before I asked you to marry me, or I probably wouldn’t have asked.”

Now she sat up abruptly and demanded, “Why not?”

“Because, m’dear, your mother wouldn’t have let me anywhere near you, so I wouldn’t have gotten to know you, wouldn’t have fallen in love, would still be going about my merry way blissfully unaware that I’d be miserable without you.”

She thought about that for a moment and then laughed. “She would have welcomed you once she got to know you.”

“Don’t count on it, luv. She would have sized me up and decided a scoundrel like me wasn’t good enough for her daughter. Youcould have aspired to a lofty title, you know, andthat’s the way mothers think.”

“I’d like to be one to find out.”

“One what?”

“A mother.” Then she whispered, “I want a baby, Jeremy, your baby.”

He groaned, pulled her back into his arms, said huskily just before he kissed her, “It’s going to be my absolute pleasure to grant that wish, Danny, I do assure you.”

“Since it’s going to be my pleasure, too, can we work on it a little bit more tonight?”

“Tonight, tomorrow, every single day until you’re puking your guts out, dear girl.”

“I’m not going to have morning sickness. My mother said she didn’t, nor her mother.”

“Don’t run in the family, eh? Well, that’s one thing I’ll thank your mother for.”

“Doesn’t,”Danny said.

“Eh?”

“Doesn’trun in the family.” She beamed at him. “Now that was rather nice, correcting you for a change.” Then she mimicked him, “’Deed it was.”

Jeremy burst out laughing.

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