Chapter 22

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Fallon continued to quietly yet tactfully assert her position as Countess of Hampton. Some of the servants were still giving her the cold shoulder. A few seemed to have slightly warmed to their new countess, especially as she was always cheerful, smiling, and unperturbed by the demonstration of insolence from some quarters. Fallon ignored their impertinence. She figured her indifference to their imprudent attitudes, would eventually compel them to concede to her position, even if many of them were there before she was born.

Fallon enjoy the special moments she spent with Braeden. Some mornings Braeden waited for her and they would breakfast together. On other occasions, it delighted Fallon to no end, when she and Braeden would go riding very early in the morning before breakfast.

So as long as Braeden continued to shower her with his attention and the respect he was giving her, she was happy and now Fallon had even more reason to be joyous. Finally she was with child. She had been ecstatic when she had felt the first bouts of nausea and instinctively knew the cause of it. And now her stomach had a tiny bump and her breasts were slightly tender. Fallon had done a merry dance privately in the bath chamber... but she kept it a secret from Braeden. He was a perfect gentleman, caring, adorable, and still the most exciting lover, not that she had any notes to compare to she laughed inwardly. She sobered, pondering on her decision to keep her pregnancy to herself for a little longer. She hardly thought of him as her husband. She felt more like a guest in Braeden's home. Even though he saw to her every need, granted her every wish, which were not many. She hardly asked for anything. Fallon still wondered if Braeden saw her as his life partner. He withheld a part of himself away from her. Why did he still guard his emotions? Why couldn't he tell her that he loved her? ... unless he did not.

Fallon brushed the disturbing thoughts aside. A joyous smile spread across her face. Nothing could hamper her bliss. Not the impudent servants or her husband's failure to tell her that he loved her. She had a ravenous appetite these mornings, she chuckled to herself. With a celebratory spring in her step, she danced her way downstairs to the breakfast room and with a radiant smile, to the butler, ordered her breakfast. If the butler thought the countess's breakfast order was more suitable for a strapping gentleman's voracious appetite; he obediently serve her, meekly filling her plate as instructed. Fallon hid a smile behind her tea cup as the butler tried with difficulty to contain his widening eyes. He was not to know she was eating for two.

'You are unwell, Lord Hampton? Have a seat,' the doctor offered. The earl did not look ill and he seemed to have ridden his carriage all the way to the doctor's rooms.

Braeden remained standing, clutching his hat for dear life. 'No___,' Braeden stalled. 'It is the countess ___ my wife.'

'The countess is ill? Should I follow you to your estate in my carriage?'

'No ___,' Braeden looked away uncomfortably.

'Perhaps you should take a seat,' the doctor suggested for the second time.

Reluctantly, Braeden slumped into the chair. He used his free hand to wipe across his face.

'So neither you nor the countess is ill?' The doctor asked tolerantly.

Braeden cringed silently. 'Yes ___ but my wife should be ___.'

'Your wife should be sick?' The doctor was having difficulty trying to comprehend the earl's speech. He knew the earl to be normally eloquent with his words.

'Why is she not with child?' Braeden blurted.

The doctor sat back in his chair, studying Braeden's face. From what he could gather, the earl was newly married. He was a strapping healthy gentleman and he knew Lady Fallon fairly well. He had been her family's doctor for all their lives. Lady Fallon was a healthy, active young lady. He saw no reason to be concerned about her health. Was the earl impatient then to secure a heir for his earldom?

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