Chapter 23

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Chapter 23

‘The earl and countess of Hampton,’ the butler announced to the guests gathered at the Quinn residence. 

A party was in full swing in honour of Lady Carissa who was looking positively radiant, and for very good reason.  She was officially betrothed, having accepted the offer of Drew Frewer, the Marquis of Dunbar. 

Fallon was enjoying a wonderful evening. She had danced mostly with Braeden.  She had no complaints about that.  He had been generous to allow her to dance with Drew and a few of the other gentlemen.  It was a lovely party.  Fallon was pleased, she had chosen a beautiful orange coloured evening gown that felt cool and was not too cumbersome.  It seemed extremely hot in the Quinn’s small ballroom.  It was a fairly pleasant and entertaining evening, with her favorite close friends, Fallon most enjoyed being with.  Her only disappointment was Emma’s absence.  She could hardly hold it against her sister who was on honeymoon.

‘Fallon, you made it,’ Carissa embraced her best friend with obvious delight.

‘Of course I would,’ Fallon laughed.  ‘Did you think, I would not?’

‘I don’t know countess, your appearances are so rare these days,’ Carissa grinned.

Fallon rolled her eyes.  True.  Since her marriage to Braeden, she had not seen much of her best friend, but then it was expected of newlyweds, was it not?  Except in her case, Fallon did not feel like a newlywed, neither did she feel any kind of wed as  Braeden’s wife.  She felt more like a guest in his vast home; that was run with precision like a well-oiled machine.

Protectively, her palm closed over the bump on her stomach.  Would her baby feel unwanted just like she did at the Hampton estate or would Braeden love his child, even if he did not love its mother?

‘Fallon?’  Carissa touched her shoulder gently.

‘What?’  Fallon distractedly responded snapping out of her silent analysis.

‘Good lord Fallon!  You are with child,’ Carissa exclaimed, watching Fallon’s hand gently smoothing over her stomach.

‘Do be quiet,’ Fallon looked over her shoulder warily.’

‘Why?’  Carissa laughed.  ‘It is surely reason to celebrate,’ she started to walk purposefully towards the drinks table.

‘Braeden does not know,’ Fallon stopped Carissa.

‘Why ever not?’ Carissa looked confused.  ‘I am certain like any would be father, Hampton would be delighted.

Perhaps … perhaps not.  Fallon could not tell Carissa of her plan to leave Braeden and return to her parent’s home.   Even if Lady Carissa was her best friend, she wanted to keep that to herself.  Knowing Carissa, she would try to convince her to stay in the marriage and work things out.  What irony!  If there was something there, it could be worked out.  But when her husband walked around her like the way one delicately maneuvered around eggshells, one could hardly call that a marriage.  Fallon only ever felt a real connection with Braeden in bed each night.  She felt like his equal in bed, but outside of their bed chamber, her husband displayed the same courteous reserve towards her as he did to their servants.  She could not bear it any longer.  She had to leave Braeden.  She would dreadfully miss their intimacy each night, but he was killing her with his cool reserve and the way he shut her out in every other area of his life.  In the meantime she needed to deal with Carissa.

‘I do not want it made pubic yet,’ Fallon spoke softly.

‘I cannot believe it.  You are certainly not one to keep secrets,’ Carissa laughed.

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