It’s another extract from author Margaret Brazear, this time from her novel The Wronged Life.
He left Madeleine playing with her dog and made his way to his bedchamber where he laid down on his bed and put his hands behind his head to stare at the ceiling. His feelings were in so much turmoil, he had no idea what he should do or indeed if he should do anything. Were it not for his daughter, he might simply write to Philippa with an apology and leave it like that, but he could not do that, could he?
His memory was showing him more than he wanted to see. He closed his eyes and she was in his arms, her soft breath against his neck, her soft breasts against his. She whispered his name, told him she loved him, wrapped her arms around him and her breathing came in heavy gasps as he buried himself inside her, as they rose together to such heights of passion, he thought he would explode from the pleasure. These past years he had been afraid to remember that, to recall those wonderful nights in her arms, for fear he would imagine her with Stephen, giving that same passion to him. She was a sensuous woman and if he thought at all, he thought it likely the year of abstinence had been too much for her and she had turned to Stephen to fulfil that need. What a fool he was!
He stood up and went to the window which looked down on the gardens. He made up his mind as he watched Madeleine sitting on the grass, her arms wrapped around her very wet dog. He could almost smell the creature from here, but they both looked so happy. There was only one thing to do and he must do it, painful though it would be.
He went downstairs and outside and walked toward her; she jumped to her feet when she saw him and he noticed her frock was soaking and trails of wet mud decorated the fabric from shoulder to knee. She was almost a woman, but he could never imagine her in voluminous skirts and heavy material, with fancy collars and delicate sleeves. Puddle raced toward him and he stepped back, out of the way; he did not want to have to change his clothes.
“Madeleine,” he said. “Please go and get changed, clean that dog as best you can and ask Nurse to pack your clothes, all of them.”
The child’s eyes grew round as she stared at him.
“Why, Father?” She asked after a moment. “Where am I going?”
“I am taking you to your mother,” he replied. “It is a very long journey and we will have to stay overnight somewhere, possibly two nights, depending on how much time we can make.”
“See Mother?” Her eyes grew wider as she stared at him, as though she were afraid to speak lest she had misheard. “Really?”
Her wide eyed expression of sheer wonder almost broke his heart. A child’s visit to her own mother should not be something so bizarre as to cause her disbelief.
What the hell had he done?
“Yes, really,” he replied.
He smiled indulgently. He had no idea how the animal would cope with such a long journey, but he could hardly ask Madeleine to leave him behind, not when his intention was that she should not return to London.
“Puddle, too,” he answered. “You had best be sure he has a bowl and lots of water, as well as food for the journey.”
Still she stood and stared at him, looking concerned.
“We are really going to see Mother?” She persisted and he could hear a little catch in her voice.
“We are, and not before time. Now hurry, please. I want to make a start before it gets too late.”
The dog had to be lifted into the coach as the step was too high, and he was a big dog. They would have to stop for him to attend to his natural business a few times and each time it would be up to Richard and the coachman to lift him inside. It was worth it to see the sheer joy on his daughter’s face and he wondered how she had kept her counsel all these years, how she had resisted the temptation to ask him questions about her mother.
He could only suppose she sensed it was not a subject he wanted to talk about and she had respected that. She was a remarkable child.
Now he felt her eyes on him and he knew she was longing to question him, to find out why after all these years and all the precautions he had taken to prevent her knowing too much, suddenly he was taking her to see her mother.
“Madeleine,” he began hesitantly. “I am sure you are wondering why I have had this sudden change of heart. You are old enough now to understand a little, I think. At least I hope so.”
She said nothing but her eyes never left his, as though she was trying to anticipate his words before he spoke them.
“The fact is, I am ashamed to say that seven years ago I made some terrible mistakes and I did the worst thing anyone could do to a woman.” He watched her eyes grow even rounder and she looked angry. “I took her child away from her,” he went on. “I thought I was doing my best for you, but I was wrong; I was very wrong. I hope you will forgive me one day.”
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