A glass of brandy awaited her when Miranda reached the parlor. Jeremy handed it to her without asking, and she accepted it gratefully. The fiery liquid brought her back to reality.
As she sat in the chair in her room, watching Phoebe go to sleep, a languid feeling had overtaken her. Her fight and energy had dissolved once she knew the girl was safe. All she wanted was to sink back into sleep. Now she was wide awake again, although her arms and legs still threatened to buckle under her.
Jeremy leaned against the mantle. She hadn’t noticed in the flurry of activity he’d lost his cravat and he was not wearing a waistcoat. Her only thoughts had been for Phoebe. Now every nerve ending was on edge as she studied his tall frame, his tight pantaloons, and the dark curls peeking from the top of his unfastened shirt. She remembered how soft they had felt against her bare breasts, how they tickled her nose when she lowered her lips to coax his nipples into hard buds. Warmth seeped between her thighs, making her squirm in the hard chair she had chosen. Shaking her head, she took a deep swig of the amber liquid and swallowed, making herself choke.
“Are you all right?” He came over and patted her back as she leaned forward.
“I am not accustomed to strong spirits,” she said between coughs.
“I’m sure you are not, but we all needed some tonight. Or is it morning?”
As if in response, the clock on a nearby table chimed twice.
Miranda blinked and gritted her teeth. Remember, this is the man who deceived you, who already had a mistress and a child when he was promising to marry you. This is the man who sailed away without a word, who never sent a letter, who left you enceinte and alone.
Be fair, he didn’t know you were increasing.
She stilled her inner voice and answered the question.
“It is morning as you heard. Shall we get on with this discussion, so we can all get some sleep?”
He sauntered over to the chair opposite hers and sat down. His lips were drawn in a straight line, and his eyes were cold.
“Now then, tell me exactly how this happened.” He lifted the crystal glass to his lips and drank deeply. Candlelight sparkled from its beveled surface. Miranda watched in fascination as points of light seemed to blur in front of her eyes.
“Miranda? Did you hear me?” He gave her arm a gentle shake. “Are you awake?”
He’d called her Miranda. She blinked and refocused on his lips. That was a mistake. All she could think about was how she longed to taste them, how she burned for the feel of them on her neck and breasts and thighs.
God, she must be exhausted to be having these thoughts.