He looked down at the small porcelain tureen on his tray, still covered by a lid.
He swallowed, trying to moisten his throat. Some more water would be nice. He turned his head toward the bedside table. His eyes still had not adjusted to the dark, but he could see that someone had fallen asleep in a chair by his bed. Honoria? Probably. He had a feeling she had not left his room throughout the ordeal.He blinked, trying to remember how she had even come to be at Fensmore. Oh, yes, Mrs. Wetherby had written to her. He could not imagine why his housekeeper had thought to do so, but he would be eternally grateful that she had.
He rather suspected that he would be dead if not for the agony Honoria and her mother had inflicted upon his leg.But that wasn’t the whole of it. He knew that he had been in and out of consciousness, and he knew that there would always be huge gaps in his memory of this terrible time. But even so, he had known that Honoria was there, in his room. She had held his hand, and she had talked to him, her soft voice reaching his soul even when he hadn’t been able to make out the words.And knowing she was there . . . It had just been easier. He hadn’t been alone. For the first time in his life, he hadn’t been alone.
He let out a little snort. He was being overly dramatic. It wasn’t as if he walked about with some invisible shield, keeping all other people at bay. He could have had more people in his life. He could have had many more people. He was an earl, for the love of God. He could have snapped his fingers and filled his house.But he’d never wanted company for the sake of idle chatter. And for everything in his life that had meant anything, he had been alone.
It was what he’d wanted.
It was what he’d thought he wanted.You know very well, Daniel seethed. I trust you have not forgotten the devil’s bargain you made.
You mean the one that saved your life? Hugh countered.Sarah took a step back in alarm. She did not know what was going on, but it terrified her.
Yes, Daniel confirmed in a silky voice. That one. Wouldn’t you think that a woman ought to know before she accepts your offer?Know what? Sarah asked uneasily. What are you talking about? But neither man so much as spared her a glance.