THE END

I’ve finished A Baron for Becky and done the first edit. It’s 46,800 words, and what I thought was going to be an epilogue turned into two more chapters, but it’s done. Once I’ve transferred my hard copy markups to the electronic copy and created book files, it’ll be off to the beta readers.

To celebrate, here’s another excerpt. Becky is reading a letter from the Duchess of Haverford.

Ah. Here is what she was looking for. She read quickly, her smile broadening. But this was perfect! Hugh would be so pleased, and so would the girls. And Miss Wilson the governess, who had come as a favour to Becky and Aldridge but was anxious to begin her promised retirement before the first snow.

She began a reply; she wouldn’t be able to send it until she had spoken to Hugh, but she wanted to waste no time.

A footfall behind her warned her an instant before her husband’s hand came over her shoulder and snatched up the letter.

“Hugh!” she turned awkwardly in the chair, and looked up into her husband’s stormy face. “Hugh? Is something wrong?”

His angry expression was fading to embarrassment as he read the first page of the letter, then turned to the signature. “The Duchess of Haverford?”

“Yes,” Becky asked. “Who did you think it was from?” She knew perfectly well what he thought. How could he?  She had given him no reason to doubt her!

“I… uh…” Embarrassment was now uppermost. He covered it by glaring at her. “Why is the Duchess writing to you? Does she mention Aldridge?”

It hadn’t occurred to Becky until this moment that they never talked about Aldridge. Never. He was supposed to be Hugh’s best friend, and had, in his own way, been a good friend to her, but in this house he had ceased to exist.

“She says he is still wearing a black-armband and3dc6b2efdd327ed0c495004f157561ae is enjoying the sympathy it wins him,” she told Hugh.

“That sounds like Aldridge.” He almost smiled, but then frowned again, looking down at the letter he still held.

Becky took a deep breath and let it out slowly. Calm. Stay calm. “I wrote to the duchess to ask her if she would find us a governess, Hugh. Miss Wilson only came for a short time, and it has already been three months.”

“Oh.” Embarrassment was winning. Good. He should be embarrassed to think so ill of her. “I… can we start over, Becky? Can I go out and come in again and just pretend this never happened?”

They should talk about it. She shouldn’t let him just brush it away. But she could never stay cross when he was smiling at her, begging her with his eyes. She smiled back and nodded, and he tiptoed to the door with ostentatiously large steps, trying to make her chuckle. Which she did, just to please him.

Moments later, he poked his head around the door again. “Becky, my love, I’m home.”

“Hugh, how lovely. You’re early.”

“I finished early, and could not wait to see my lovely wife.”

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