Chapter 11

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Braeden ___ 'I am so sorry,' Fallon pleaded. 'Do forgive me. I was not thinking.'

'No. Clearly you were not,' he snarled.

Fallon thought he had a right to be furious. She touched his arm. 'I am sorry ___ about your parents too,' she whispered.

He was quiet, not saying anything, his face stony, his jaw tight and looking angry.

'Braeden do not be angry anymore,' she begged. 'Please tell me what happened to your parents,' her voice was but a whisper.

He continued to stare straight ahead. His eyes intensely focused in the dark as he expertly guided his greys. Fallon thought he was not going to answer. He had been so still and subdued and then she heard his voice.

'I was hardly twelve summers,' he spoke quietly. 'My parents and I were returning from visiting grandmère in Bath. That used to be her home in the summer,' he smiled.

Fallon nodded even though he could not see her. His eyes seemed faraway, yet his hands controlled the reins skilfully.

'What happened?' Fallon softly encouraged, as she tucked her fingers around his arm.

'My father wanted to leave for London whilst there was still daylight, but I was enjoying the sea, mama urged father to let me play. I remember him shaking his head and smiling at mama and saying, "only one more hour."

Braeden turned his head to Fallon, a half smile playing on his face. 'We had only been riding for about two hours. It was not as dark as it is now. We were in the front carriage. Our portmanteau, along with the foot men and mama's maids were in the second carriage.'

'The road was narrow,' his voice became soft. 'We heard the driver shout loudly. Papa looked out the window to see what was going on. Another carriage was speeding recklessly towards us. The next thing I knew, I was thrown out of the carriage. I landed in the grass. The carriage was upside down. Mama and papa ___.'

'I'm sorry,' Fallon whispered. Her hand reached out, touched his shoulder gently. He did not seem to register her voice nor her touch.

'The driver was full of blood,' Braeden continued. 'The servants from the second carriage picked me up. They refused to let me see mama and papa. We returned to Bath to grandmère. I stayed with her for a month. Then she returned with me to London. She became mother and father to me and trained me for the earldom. The life lessons grandmère has taught me, I could never repay her, even though I am a fairly wealthy man,' his eyes locked with Fallon's. It glistened from the light of the lanterns. Fallon could tell from his eyes and the passion in his voice that he cared deeply for the dowager and something told Fallon instinctively, he would never cross her nor would he do anything against her will.

'You must miss them terribly,' she murmured quietly.

'When I was growing up, yes,' he answered with a smile. 'When it snowed, I used to sit by the fire and mama used to tell me about the days when she was young and the games they played. Papa loved playing the pianoforte and mama would sing. Every Christmas, mama would secretly give me lots of presents in my chamber and then there would be lots more downstairs, by the Yule log.'

'Your mama loved you very much. I wish I could have met her.'

Braeden's head turned sharply in her direction.

'I'm sorry my lord. I ___ did not mean that.' Fallon shrunk away. She did not want Braeden thinking her to be presumptuous in any way.

Braeden's mood suddenly changed. It seemed like he realized he'd spoken too much, revealed more to her than he had to anybody else previously. He stiffened, forced his attention on his driving.

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