Marrying for Money Ch. 09

byharemgirl©

Amanda's confidence was infectious, and Leanna found herself smiling too. "I suppose I will have to bow to your superior knowledge on that point and hope for the best. Now, where is your son? Trevor tells me his name is William."

Amanda's face glowed with pride, "Yes, little Will. Come on, he's having a nap, but we can peek in on him if you like."

The two women climbed the stairs arm in arm, chattering like old friends while their two husbands stood together in the foyer shaking their heads in wonder. Steven was the first to speak.

"Women! I swear if I live to be a hundred years old, I'll never understand them. Those two act like they've been friends their whole lives."

Trevor just grinned, letting his eyes follow his wife's swaying hips. "Yes, well Leanna has that effect on a lot of people. She's downright irresistible." Realizing he looked like a smitten youth, he cleared his throat and changed the subject. "Come on, let's have a drink." He led the way into the study, his brother close behind him.

"No doubt you need one after the last few weeks," Steven said with a grin, accepting a glass from his brother. Steven spent several minutes telling Trevor the events of the past weeks at the Meadows. "God, I'm glad you're back. These weeks have been hard on everyone."

Trevor sank down in his favorite chair, opposite Steven, and sipped his bourbon. "Well, the hellish part is over, but I still have to talk to Leanna about Miranda. I'm really at a loss as to what to believe."

"If I were you, big brother, I wouldn't take anything Eliza says at face value. I find it awfully strange that she has waited all these years to claim that you are the father. Her husband has been dead over two years, so why didn't she come to your before now?"

"That's a good question," Trevor said, "just one of the many that I have. But no matter what happens, I'm not going to jeopardize my relationship with Leanna. I'm not going to make any decisions about this without her input."

Steven cocked his head to one side and grinned. "That's a first, the mighty Trevor Grayson tamed by a mere female."

Trevor merely shrugged and took another sip of his whiskey. "What can I say, I'm a changed man."

Leanna and Amanda breezed into the room at that moment, Leanna crossing to perch on the arm of her husband's chair and place an arm across his shoulders. "What's all this about you being changed?" she inquired sweetly.

Trevor waggled his eyebrows wickedly. "I was just saying we should get changed for dinner, my sweet," he murmured, as he pulled her down for a kiss on her cheek. "Wouldn't you like to change out of your traveling dress?"

Leanna leaned close and murmured for his ears alone, "There you go again, trying to get under my skirt."

***********

Later that evening, the two couples sat in the drawing room watching little Will playing on a pallet on the floor. They had enjoyed the first really cheerful dinner since Leanna came to The Meadows. Everyone had been in the mood to celebrate Leanna's return, and the evening was winding to a close, when they heard the sound of a carriage pulling up the front drive.

Without knowing why, Leanna felt herself tensing with dread, and she reached to slide her hand into Trevor's for assurance. He squeezed her hand and gave her a warm smile. They all turned toward the door, as they heard Eliza sweep into the foyer.

"Yes, I know it's a bit late," she was saying to the housekeeper, "but I really must see Trevor."

"What do you want now, Eliza?" Trevor growled, rising from his chair.

"See, I told you Trevor would see me!" Eliza sauntered into the drawing room, towing her daughter behind her. The silence in the room was palpable as four pairs of eyes went to the youngster gripping Eliza's hand. "This is Miranda, your firstborn child," Eliza exclaimed to Trevor before turning to give Leanna a haughty glare. Eliza pointed to Trevor and bent down to Miranda, "Darling, this is your Daddy."

Leanna couldn't take her eyes off Miranda, for she was a beautiful child. She looked about four years old. She had gleaming blonde ringlets and big, round blue eyes, only a shade or two lighter than Trevor's eyes. Miranda looked scared and confused, and Leanna felt her heart go out to the child.

Miranda started to cry quietly, "but Mommy, I thought Daddy died."

"No honey, that was your step daddy, this is your real Daddy, and I wanted you to meet him." Eliza pushed Miranda toward Trevor. "Go on sweetheart, go say hello to your Daddy."

Miranda stood with big tears hanging in her eyes for a moment then started to wail in earnest. "I want my Daddy, when will Daddy be back?"

Baby Will, who had been playing happily started to cry as well, and Amanda rushed to pick him up and soothe him, giving Eliza a reproachful glare. Miranda's cries were getting more and more anxious.

"Please Mommy, I want my Daddy back."

Leanna stepped forward to comfort the child, but Eliza stepped in front of her and snarled, "Don't you dare touch my daughter! I brought her here to meet Trevor, not you." The words were said with so much hatred that Leanna took a step backward.

"That's enough, Eliza!" Trevor put an arm around his wife. "It's time for you to leave."

"Trevor, are you saying you don't want to meet your own daughter?" Eliza shrieked in disbelief.

Trevor released a deep sigh. "I'm saying that this is neither the time nor the place for this conversation. You came here tonight, disturbed our peaceful home and upset Miranda. Now," he paused to take a calming breath, "it's late, all of us are tired, and I need some time to think about everything before we have this conversation. Please take your daughter and leave."

Eliza's beautiful features contorted into an ugly mask of rage. "Our daughter, Trevor, ours. Don't try to weasel out of this in front of your whiney little wife!"

"I said that's enough!" Trevor roared, startling both the children into sniffling silence. "Leave, now, before I toss you out on your ear!"

Eliza's mouth dropped open in shock. She had never been talked to in that manner. She snapped her jaw shut and looked toward Amanda. "See, Amanda. Didn't I tell you he would do try to deny his responsibilities?"

Amanda shook her head in disapproval. "Eliza, I really think you should leave," she said quietly, still cradling Will against her shoulder.

Eliza looked stunned for a moment, then she lifted her chin, grabbed her daughter's hand and stalked to the door. "Fine! Since none of you want to listen to me tonight, I will go, but this is far from over." She paused to glare once more at Leanna before she left, slamming the door behind her.

Everyone breathed a collective sigh of relief when they heard her carriage rolling down the drive. Amanda looked at Steven and then started toward the door. She paused before Leanna and patted her arm. "Don't worry, Leanna. Everything will work out."

"Thank you Amanda," Leanna said quietly.

Steven and Amanda said their goodnights and then climbed the stairs with Will. A long moment passed before Leanna released a deep sigh and turned to face Trevor. He was watching her intently, a troubled look on his face. She placed a hand on his cheek, instantly concerned.

"What's the matter Trevor?"

Trevor blinked in surprise. "What's the matter? I was expecting you to be furious with me. My former lover just showed up again, flaunting a child she claims is mine under your very nose, and you're asking 'what's the matter'?" He shook his head in wonder. "You never cease to amaze me."

Releasing another shaky sigh, Leanna wrapped her arms around his waist and laid her cheek against his chest. She felt his strong arms close around her and the sound of his heart beating next to her ear was incredibly comforting, especially after their long separation.

"Trevor, why should I be angry with you?" She looked up into his eyes, and her face was shining with love. "If you are the father of that child, the deed was accomplished years ago, long before we knew each other. I can't blame you for that. And if Miranda is indeed your daughter, she needs you. I would never try to keep you away from her."

Trevor felt a lump in his throat and tried to clear it, but his voice remained husky when he spoke. "Leanna, you are an incredible woman. I don't know what I would ever do without you in my life."

Leanna smiled up at him with tears in her eyes, "You won't have to find out, because I will never leave you again. I won't let that woman come between us. Whatever happens, we will face it together." Her voice held so much conviction that Trevor felt profoundly humbled.

Trevor bent to kiss his wife tenderly, and their kisses quickly became ravenous. He raised his head keeping her within the circle of his arms. "Shall we take this conversation upstairs?" he asked, raising one eyebrow and giving Leanna a rakish grin. She raised her own eyebrows in response. "We can go upstairs, but I'm not really interested in talking." She had barely finished that statement when her husband scooped her into his arms and started up the stairs two at a time, causing her to giggle with delight. Leanna was content to wrap her arms around his neck and nuzzle his ear while he carried her. "Hurry up! I'm about to soak through my pantalets."

***********

A few days later, Trevor arranged to take Leanna into town to buy her some new clothes. It was a lovely day for an outing, and by the time they reached town, there were twin spots of rosy color in Leanna's cheeks. Leanna's heart was light as she looped her arm through Trevor's, and let him escort her into the dress shop.

Mrs. White, the proprietor, was the most talented and successful seamstress in Norfolk, and her eyes gleamed in anticipation at the prospect of making several new gowns for the beautiful Mrs. Grayson. Mrs. White ushered them into a private room, and Trevor sat in a nearby chair as the two women settled at a small table to look at patterns and fabric samples. Mrs. White was all business as she began to discuss the patterns.

"This one would look simply divine on you, Mrs. Grayson, with your slender frame."

Leanna cleared her throat nervously and her cheeks were bright with color when she spoke. "Mrs. White, you should know that I am expecting, so that should influence our choices."

"Oh how wonderful," Mrs. White exclaimed, turning to give Trevor a wink. Of course, Mrs. White had heard all the talk about how his young wife had run off for several weeks and had to be fetched back home, so she couldn't help wondering whether the baby was his. However, Trevor's grin of pure masculine pride assured her that despite any speculation this might inspire, he harbored no doubts that he was the father.

Turning back to Leanna, Mrs. White gave her a wide smile and patted her hand comfortingly. "Don't worry, Mrs. Grayson, I have a number of patterns that fall above the waist, giving you plenty of room to grow. And, I will ensure that the gowns are sewn with extra fabric that can be let out as you increase in size. These new gowns will carry you through your confinement and well beyond."

"Thank you," Leanna said with a relieved smile.

The two women spent the next pair of hours poring over patterns and discussing which fabrics would be most suitable for each gown. Trevor offered an occasional comment but left most of the decisions to Leanna. She had impeccable taste, and he agreed with all her choices.

New undergarments were also ordered, and Leanna was excited by the beautiful clothes that were being planned. She initially tried to order only two or three gowns, but Trevor insisted that she needed an entire wardrobe given her condition, and he didn't relent until over a dozen new gowns had been ordered, along with chemises, stockings, pantalets, petticoats, corsets, slippers, and nightgowns of the finest materials. Leanna undressed to her stockings and chemise so Mrs. White could take careful measurements.

Unlike most men, Trevor didn't appear to be impatient with the proceedings. Instead he sat casually sipping a coffee and gave every appearance of enjoying their shopping excursion. He particularly relished the moments when Leanna was being measured. His eyes held a teasing twinkle as he sat boldly assessing her ripe curves and waggling his brows causing her to blush hotly. Mrs. White was so busy she didn't notice the interplay between the couple.

When Leanna was once again dressed and thought they were finished, she began to thank Mrs. White and rose to leave. Only then did Trevor speak up. "Just a moment, Mrs. White. I would like to speak with you for a moment...in private." Both women looked at him with surprise, but he continued unperturbed, "Leanna, would you mind waiting for me up front?"

Leanna nodded her head, giving him a puzzled look as she left the room.

Trevor waited until she was out of earshot then turned back to Mrs. White and smiled. "There is one more gown I would like to order...a very special gown...but I would like for its design to be a surprise."

Mrs. White's relief was evident. She had thought he might be having second thoughts about spending so much money on clothes for his wife. "Certainly, Mr. Grayson. Do you already know what you want?"

Trevor grinned as he turned back to the table where the patterns and fabrics were strewn. "Yes, I do," he murmured, thumbing through the patterns until he came to the one he wanted. He handed it to Mrs. White.

She looked puzzled, remembering that his wife had liked that pattern before, but he had shaken his head, saying that it wouldn't be practical given her pregnancy. The pattern he had chosen was tightly fitted through the waist and torso, with long seams darting up all around the bodice. The effect was that the gown would lovingly hug its wearer, leaving no room for an expanding waistline. She shook her head and laughed a bit nervously.

"But Mr. Grayson, I thought we agreed this design was not practical, given your wife's condition."

Trevor gave her a charming smile. "Mrs. White, I realize that she won't be able to wear the gown for long. As I'm sure you already know, there is going to be a ball in my wife's honor in less than two weeks. I want her to wear this gown for the occasion."

Understanding dawned, and the seamstress nodded approvingly. It was obvious that Mr. Grayson was deeply in love with his young wife, and Mrs. White thoroughly approved.

"Don't worry, Mr. Grayson." She gave him a conspiratorial wink. "This will be the loveliest gown you have ever seen, and I will make sure it's ready in plenty of time for the ball. Now, what did you have in mind for fabric and trimmings?"

Trevor told her what he wanted, and she beamed in approval, able to see the finished gown, and his lovely wife wearing it, in her mind's eye.

"Remember, I don't want her to know anything about this gown, Mrs. White. It's meant to be a surprise."

"I won't disappoint you. Just leave it up to me."

Leanna and Trevor took their leave, smiling and thanking Mrs. White profusely. As they began to stroll along the boardwalk, Leanna's arm tucked into his, Trevor heard his wife's stomach give a loud growl. He chuckled at her, as a delicate blush suffused her cheeks.

"What's this? Did all that shopping make you hungry, my sweet?"

Leanna's bubbling laughter was enchanting. "Well, it's not my fault it took so long. You are the one who insisted that we order so many gowns."

Trevor stopped and turned as if he were going to go back to Mrs. White's shop. "Oh, well, if you truly don't want them, we can always cancel some of the gowns we ordered."

Leanna dug in her heels and pulled him to a stop, saying hastily, "No, no. That's alright. We've already ordered them now." She stopped when she saw the teasing gleam in her husband's eyes. "Oh you!" She slapped him on the arm, unable to keep from smiling as he broke into laughter. "It's not very gentlemanly of you to tease your pregnant wife in this manner," she scolded playfully.

Trevor tucked her arm through his once more and turned her toward a small restaurant near the end of the boardwalk. "You're right, my sweet. You have my apologies. Now, since you are obviously hungry," he bent and whispered in her ear, his hot breath causing delicious shivers to race up her spine, "and since you should be eating for two, Let's go in here and have a late lunch."

Leanna laughed gaily in response, and they made their way to a small table near the back of the tidy establishment. They were the only patrons, since it was nearing two o'clock and most other folks had already eaten. In no time at all, a hearty meal had been prepared for them consisting of roasted quail, delicate potatoes, braised carrots, green beans and fresh, hot rolls, dripping with butter. They followed the meal with rich custard topped with burned sugar, and Trevor laughed as he watched Leanna scraping her bowl clean and licking every morsel off her spoon.

She opened her eyes in wide-eyed innocence as he continued to chuckle at her. "What?" she inquired sweetly, "I'm just fortifying myself for the strenuous afternoon I expect to have when we get back home. A girl must eat enough to keep up her stamina when her husband can't keep his hands off her," she quipped. That caught Trevor's attention, and he quickly called for the bill. It was Leanna's turn to laugh at him, but he didn't seem to mind as he gave her a naughty grin.

They were making their way back to the livery, crossing in front of the bank, when Trevor stopped abruptly. He turned to face Leanna and she could see he was uncomfortable.

"I need to stop briefly at the bank. I have some business to handle...concerning an account I set up for Miranda," he stated quietly, watching for Leanna's reaction. "Would you mind?"

Leanna shook her head, squeezing his arm affectionately. "No, I don't mind. But I would rather not go in with you...that would be a bit awkward. Why don't I make my way to the livery without you? I can browse through the shops along the way, and you catch up to me once you're done."

Trevor nodded with a grim smile. "That's fine. I won't be long." He bent to brush a kiss on Leanna's cheek before going into the bank.

With a sigh, Leanna turned and continued along the boardwalk. She took her time, looking through the store windows and occasionally entering a shop when they had an interesting display. Leanna was engrossed in looking at a display of baby blankets when she heard Eliza's voice behind her.

"Well, well. If it isn't the lovely Mrs. Grayson," Eliza sneered as her eyes raked Leanna from head to toe. "Word around town is that your doting husband brought you in for a shopping expedition. I hope he bought you some clothes that are more attractive than those you're currently wearing."

Leanna was unperturbed by the other woman's snide remarks. She felt confident about her appearance and her position as Trevor's wife. She wasn't going to allow Eliza to get under her skin. "Hello Eliza. Don't you ever get tired of being spiteful to me?"

"Not at all. Though I will say, I was surprised to be given the opportunity to ever speak to you again. I was shocked to learn that you came back to your husband. I guess you didn't have the guts to leave Trevor, even knowing that he will always be in love with me."

Leanna's reaction must have disappointed her greatly. "It's really not that surprising, Eliza," she said, giving a shrug. "When Trevor tracked me down and told me that he loved me and wanted me as his wife, I could hardly refuse him. It turned out he didn't want a divorce after all. In fact, he refused to let me go. We love each other Eliza, and I won't let you play your hateful games anymore, trying to break us apart."

Eliza gave a bitter laugh. "He doesn't love you. He loves me, he always has, and I have his daughter to prove it! There's no way you can ever replace the love he has for the mother of his child."

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