Marrying for Money Ch. 07byharemgirl©
Leanna was indeed lying in her own bed, thinking of Trevor. He must surely have given up on finding her by now, she thought. She had remained true to her word, and she had posted a letter to him two weeks before, which had contained a petition for divorce. That had been a week before her monthly was due. Now she was a week overdue, and she knew without a doubt that she was pregnant.
Now, what was she going to do? It would be bad enough to suffer the disgrace of being divorced, but now she would be unwed and pregnant, and her baby would be born a bastard. How unfair life was! If she had known she was already carrying Trevor's child, she would never have left. For the sake of her baby, she would have stayed and fought to save her marriage, even if it ended up being a loveless marriage.
Leanna thought briefly about going back, but she rejected the idea. The divorce papers had probably already been delivered, and for all she knew, Trevor may have already signed and returned them. Surely, he was anxious to get the whole thing over with. Eliza was probably firmly entrenched in his bed by now, and they were both likely to be impatient for a divorce so that they could marry. Leanna couldn't face the humiliation of going back now. Besides, she had been gone for three weeks and had been living in another man's house. What if Trevor didn't believe the baby was his? There was no easy solution.
Her thoughts returned to Trevor. The nights were the only time she had entirely to herself, and it was then that her mind returned to her husband with unfailing regularity. She longed for him, wishing she could once again submit to his demands and offer her body for his pleasure. But of course, that was not to be.
Eventually, her thoughts turned to Neville. He had pursued her with unswerving dedication over the past several weeks, and she knew he wanted to deepen their relationship. Would she ever be able to get over the hurt of the past?
Leanna had enlisted the services of Neville's attorney. Neville was anxious to help her get a divorce as quickly and discreetly as possible. In the three weeks she had been in his employ, Neville had shown himself to be an absolute gentleman, but he never left her with any doubt that he desired her.
Leanna sometimes wondered how she would feel once she was free to marry again. Would she accept his proposal? Neville made no secret that he intended to offer for her hand once her divorce was granted. She had never lied to him, and he knew she was deeply in love with her husband. However, if he were still willing to marry her, knowing that she didn't love him, would she accept?
She had not only herself to consider, but the babe she carried as well. It would need a father, and she could think of no one better suited to take on that role than Neville. He was a doting father for his two daughters. Leanna hadn't told Neville about the baby that she carried, and she knew she would have to do so very soon. Perhaps the baby would change everything. It was a rare man who was willing to raise another man's child.
Leanna couldn't sleep, and she rose from the bed and walked to the balcony doors that were opened to let in a light breeze. It was February, and the nights were frigid, but she was in need of fresh air. Her nightgown and satin robe provided almost no warmth, and she shivered as she walked to the railing and stared up at a full moon. Leanna welcomed the freezing chill to distract her from her morose musings. She hugged her arms around herself, shivering slightly and leaned against a post as she released a deep sigh.
"You seem awfully pensive tonight," a warm, masculine voice murmured from close behind her.
Leanna jumped like a scalded cat and placed a hand on her throat as she turned to face Neville. He had obviously been unable to sleep as well, for he was dressed in a thick wool robe. The bare expanse of his chest showed, and Leanna's eyes were drawn to the rippling muscles and curly hair that was visible.
"You startled me," she whispered, her eyes finally rising to find his.
Apparently, she wasn't the only one interested in her companion's state of undress, for his eyes were closely regarding her bosom, and she looked down to see the outline of her nipples, furled into tight buds from the cold and clearly visible beneath the cloth. She released a mortified groan and turned her back to him.
"I'm sorry," he murmured, stepping close behind her and slipping his arms around her waist as he spoke over her shoulder. "I didn't mean to scare you, but when you appeared, as I had been yearning for you to do, I wasn't sure whether you were real or whether I had conjured a vision of you in my mind."
Leanna shivered, not just from the chill but from the pleasure of his words. She couldn't deny that on a purely physical level, she was attracted to him, and with the hurt she felt, she wanted someone to hold her and assure her that she was worthy of being loved. Was that so very wrong, when her husband didn't want her?
Turning back to face him, her eyes were luminous as she looked up at him, and strangely, she didn't feel ashamed or embarrassed when his eyes swept her body once more. She was, after all, flesh and blood, and Trevor had awakened cravings in her woman's body that she had never been aware of before. Those cravings were driving her to distraction, and it was only natural that she wondered whether Neville could help her appease them.
Neville stepped even closer, tightening his arms around her waist as he pulled her against the warmth of his body. Leanna braced her arms between them, keeping her breasts from making contact with his chest as she met his eyes.
"Neville, there is something you need to know." She bit her lip, worried about how he would accept her news, but determined to be honest with him. "I'm carrying a child."
Neville went completely still for a long moment, but she didn't feel him stiffen. Instead, he regarded her steadily, and when he finally spoke, his voice was low and husky.
"The thought had occurred to me that you might be. Why are you telling me this now?"
She shrugged slightly and looked down at her hands resting on his chest. "I thought you might not want me anymore, once you knew I was carrying another man's child."
He chuckled briefly before answering. "Leanna," he placed a finger under her chin and raised her face until she looked at him, "I doubt there is anything you could tell me that would make me not want you."
As if to confirm his words, he pulled her hips firmly against him, and Leanna gasped, feeling the solid length of his arousal pressing against her belly. He swooped to claim her lips, and she turned her face up to accept his kiss. Leanna looped her arms around his neck, and when she felt his probing tongue, she closed her eyes and allowed him to deepen the kiss.
While his kiss didn't invoke the same fire in the pit of her belly as Trevor's had, Leanna did feel pleasant warmth seeping into her limbs. Thoughts of her husband rose up to haunt her, and she angrily beat them to the back of her mind and concentrated on returning Neville's kiss. It infuriated her to know that Trevor so completely dominated her thoughts, and she was determined not to let his memory interfere between her and Neville.
She pressed her body more fully against Neville, inviting him to take their embrace a step further. His intentions were starkly clear, he meant to bed her before the night was over. Leanna shivered when he released her lips and kissed along her jaw. She didn't protest when he cupped and kneaded her full breast through the thin fabric of her gown, even though her mind registered that his caresses were not having the same effect on her as Trevor's had.
Neville's lips returned to hers as his hand continued to tease her breast. She groaned as his thumb stroked across her nipple, and she remembered her husband's strong hands and how they had caressed her in the same way. She wished fervently that Neville's caresses would evoke the same passion as her husband's, but she felt somehow distant from this embrace, as if she were merely an observer.
Neville released her lips and began to trail hot kisses down her neck as he undid the buttons of her gown. She bit her bottom lip as he suckled one nipple into his mouth, drawing strongly on the sensitive flesh. Leanna fought back a wave of panic, realizing that no man other than her husband had handled her body so intimately before.
Neville pressed her back against a column and pulled the hem of her gown up, sliding his hand underneath. He kept suckling her breast as he located her pussy and began to explore it. Leanna shivered from the cold air as she felt his fingers stroking her soft folds. She opened her thighs on a sigh. She was moist but not wet, warm but not heated, hungry but not needy. The feelings she was experiencing were mere shadows of the ones Trevor evoked in her. She struggled to lose herself in the moment. She had almost succeeded when Neville murmured in a husky voice.
"Leanna, I want you. So help me, I want you now."
The sound of his voice, so different from the one craved, shattered her as if she were breaking out of a trance. She pulled away from him, taking a hasty step back and stood gasping for breath as she stared at him through wide eyes. They were both breathing fast, and when his eyes dropped to her quivering breasts, she snatched her gown closed and clutched her arms protectively over her bosom. She was horrified at her own behavior. She knew in her heart that she was trying to use Neville to blot out the memory of her husband, and that was very wrong. Neville deserved better than that, and Leanna couldn't go against her own conscience, even though her body desperately needed release.
"I'm sorry, Neville," she said in a shaky whisper. "This is wrong, terribly wrong." He reached to pull her into his arms once more, but she flung out a hand to stop him, shaking her head. "No, please stop. I should never have allowed you to kiss me. I'm a married woman!"
"Soon to be divorced," he whispered. His eyes were full of longing, and Leanna felt terrible for having encouraged him.
Her eyes implored him to understand. "I cannot do this. I don't know why, but I feel in my heart that this is wrong. My husband hasn't set me free yet, and it isn't right to pursue a relationship with you until he has. I made a vow to be faithful, and I must honor that vow even if my husband hasn't." Perhaps it was the pleading tone in her voice or the tears that suddenly welled in her eyes, but something made Neville sigh in resignation.
"All right, I won't pressure you. However, be warned of one thing. I fully intend to make you mine. If you will have me, I'll marry you before the ink is even dry on your divorce papers." He saw her shaking her head, and he placed a gentle finger over her lips to still her words. "I felt you respond to me just now. I know that you have yearnings of your own, but to appease your sense of honor, I'm willing to wait. I don't know how long I can wait, but for tonight you are safe."
"But Neville, how can you still want me, knowing that I'm carrying another man's child? It wouldn't be fair for me to marry you."
"Leanna, your child is a part of you. I shall love it just as I already love you, and I will raise it as my own."
"Yes, but . . ."
"No buts," he said sternly. "We will get through this together. Trust me." He hugged her against him and kissed her hair before stepping back to smile down at her. "Sleep well, my beautiful Leanna, and know that I'll be thinking of you. I want you desperately, but I'm willing to wait until you're ready."
His eyes burned her as they swept once more over her scantily clad body before he turned without another word and left her staring after him as he walked the length of the balcony to his own bedroom. She had to fight the urge to call him back, for her body had been awakened, and she desperately yearned for someone to make love to her. However, as much as she would like for it to be otherwise, she knew that it was only Trevor's touch that could satisfy her yearnings.
Leanna collapsed into a miserable heap upon the bed and tears of frustration welled in her eyes. Why did she have to fall in love with a man who didn't want her, when she could have easily had this man's devotion? Love was cruel, and she wished she could simply dictate to her heart. She released a deep sigh.
At least she knew that Neville was willing to marry her despite her pregnancy, and for the sake of everyone involved, she intended to accept his proposal once her divorce was granted. She wouldn't throw away the rest of her life. Instead, she would pick up the pieces and glean as much happiness as she could as the wife of a loving, desirable man.
She could do far worse than to marry a man who was handsome, wealthy, and totally enamoured with her, and she was determined to pursue what happiness she could. It was that thought alone, that faint hope for some future happiness that finally allowed her to fall into troubled sleep, but sapphire eyes haunted her dreams, and she awoke in the night reaching for Trevor.
Trevor made his way down the stairs for breakfast, and found his brother eating alone. When he entered, Steven eyed him closely, noticing his gaunt face and the dark circles beneath his eyes. Although Trevor had washed and shaved, he didn't look refreshed, and Steven frowned with concern as he watched his brother serving his plate from the buffet.
"I can see you didn't sleep well last night."
Trevor grunted in response and took a seat. "No, I didn't. In fact, I had an unwelcome visitor in my bedroom last night." He looked up in time to see Steven raise both brows in surprise.
"Eliza?" At Trevor's nod, Steven's face flushed an angry red. "The nerve of that woman never ceases to amaze me. You are a married man. Does she have no shame?"
Trevor shook his head grimly. "None whatsoever. I had to boot her out and told her to leave this morning. I fear her continued presence in this house will only serve to encourage whatever fantasies Eliza has conjured up in that scheming head of hers. It's way past time for her to go home." He looked at Steven from beneath his brows. "I hope Amanda won't mind."
Steven waved a hand in dismissal, settling back to enjoy his coffee. "No, I'm sure she won't. Truth be known, Amanda and I are both tired of having Eliza here as well. She has a damnable way of wearing on one's nerves."
Trevor grunted his agreement as he chewed his toast and finished the last of his eggs. "There's something else you should know." He paused to see that he had Steven's undivided attention. "The night before Eliza eloped, she came to me, and I made love to her. She says I'm the father of her daughter."
Steven bolted upright in his chair. "What? And you believed her? She has to be lying! Her husband must have fathered the child."
Trevor sighed morosely. "She claims that her husband was called away on their wedding day, before they were able to consummate their vows. According to Eliza, she already knew she was pregnant by the time he had returned, but she made him believe he was the father."
Steven gave a disgusted snort. "Well you know she would say anything to snare you. She knows that you would never be able to turn your back on any child of yours, regardless of how it was conceived. But do you honestly believe her? She could be making the whole thing up."
"Umm, she could," Trevor said, apparently lost in thought for several moments. "But she isn't making up the part about sleeping with me, and she was a virgin when I took her. It is possible that I am the child's father."
"So what are you going to do?" Steven asked quietly.
"Well for now, I told Eliza that I will set up an account at the bank to help her support Miranda. We'll have to sort out the rest once I get back." Trevor finished his coffee. "One thing's for sure, I can't stay here as long as Leanna is gone. Everywhere I look, I see her."
Steven watched him closely, his brows drawing together into a frown of compassion. "You love her very much," he stated simply.
Trevor gave a rueful shrug, pushing his plate back. "Is it that obvious?"
"Yes, it is," Steven said laughing. "In that case, I think you might be interested in this."
Steven reached beneath the edge of his placemat and withdrew an official looking envelope, which he tossed to his brother. Trevor caught it and quickly scanned it, recognizing Leanna's name at once. He fixed Steven with an accusing glare.
"Why didn't you say anything before?"
Steven laughed as he rose to leave. "Because I wanted you to eat your breakfast first. Lord knows you haven't been taking good care of yourself these past weeks, and I knew as soon as you saw the letter, you'd lose all interest in everything else. Anyway, I'll leave you to read her letter. Let me know if there's any way I can help." With that, he left the room.
Trevor's fingers trembled slightly as he looked at the envelope. It was dated two weeks earlier, but it didn't bear an address, and he wondered where it had come from. As he tore open the envelope, he prayed fervently that he would find out where his wife was from the contents. When he opened the letter, a wad of bills fell on the table. He ignored them and quickly scanned her letter.
Dear Trevor, As promised, I'm writing to let you know that I'm alright. I'm sure by now that you and Eliza are very happy together, and I promise not to do anything that might interfere with your plans. Therefore, I have consulted an attorney and had him draw up the papers requesting a divorce. I have already signed them, and they are enclosed herein for your approval. As you can see, I haven't asked you for a settlement. You do not need to worry about supporting me, for I have found a job and am currently working as a governess for a man with two little girls. All you need to do is sign the divorce petition and return it to the attorney. He will complete all the necessary paperwork, and I'll disappear from your life for good. I hope you are well and happy. Leanna P.S. I'm enclosing the money I borrowed from you. That should settle everything between us with the exception of the money you loaned Jeremy. Please believe me that he will repay you as promised. L.
As Trevor read the words, his belly constricted into knots. He scanned the papers that had been enclosed and the word 'Divorce' seemed to jump off the page and mock him. Apparently, Leanna hadn't needed much time to resolve herself to ending their marriage. Trevor's mouth compressed into a thin line of displeasure.
Whatever Leanna might think, he had no intention of ending their marriage, and the sooner he found her and told her that, the better off they would both be. Contrary to what she might think, everything was far from being settled between them! At that moment, he wanted nothing more than to settle a switch on her trim little backside!
Trevor ripped the divorce documents into pieces and threw them into the fire. He watched them burning, as his determination to find Leanna hardened in his mind. His only clue to her whereabouts was the attorney's return address in Charlotte, North Carolina. That was a hard two day ride from The Meadows, and once he got there he would still have to figure out where she was. If she had decided to use the services of an attorney in Charlotte, surely she couldn't be far from there.
He was going to find her, even if he had to search every home in the vicinity. Leanna had said she was working as a governess, and Trevor couldn't imagine that there were very many people in that area wealthy enough to hire a governess for their children. Most people were struggling just to get by following the war, and he hoped his search would be greatly narrowed by that information.