A MAsked Lady for Mr. Kenworthy
“Alex,” Faye called, reaching to grab her son before he shot out of the door without his parents. “You must not run so fast. The sea will gobble you up if you get too far away from us.”
Thomas came up behind his wife and son, who was almost four, carrying a two-year-old little girl on his hip. He looked down at his son and gave him a gentle but serious look.
“Besides,” he said, “you do not want to set a bad example for little Alice here, do you? She is your little sister, and she looks up to you in all things.”
Alex, who was very clever for his age, looked at his father thoughtfully for a moment. Then, he gave his head a firm shake, reaching up to gently pat little Alice on the knee.
“No,” he said. “I want to be a good brother.”
Faye bit her lip to keep from giggling when he said ‘brother’ in a way that sounded like ‘brudder.’
“Very good,” Thomas said, reaching down carefully to ruffle his son’s hair.
Faye watched her family with pride and love. She had believed that she would never be happier than she was on her wedding day. But now, four years and two children later, she found her happiness only grew exponentially every single day. When Alex looked away from his father and looked up at her expectantly, Faye opened the door to their seaside manor, allowing the little boy to run out a few steps ahead of her. Adhering to his parents’ words of warning, he stopped just a few paces away, turning and waiting, albeit impatiently, for the rest of his family to join him by the steps that led out onto the beach.
The little family spent the entire day on the beach, complete with a lunch and dinner picnic. Faye and Thomas had promised Alex a day at the beach because the following day, they had a long journey to make, and they hoped to help him use up as much of his childish energy as possible before they departed. Two weeks prior, Thomas had received an invitation for them both to the wedding of Lord Daleshire and his betrothed, Lady Sarah. Thomas had brought Faye the invitation like an excited child, and she had been delighted to tell him to let them know that they would be in attendance. Sure enough, by sunset, Alex was very placid and tired, as were Faye and Thomas and little Alice.
The following morning, Faye went to help the nursemaid get the children ready for the trip, while Thomas saw to the loading of their trunks and made the preparations for their departure. Faye considered bringing a couple of books to read to the children as they traveled, but a fluttering in her stomach at the thought made her rethink the idea. She had been having some trouble with mild nausea, which she completely expected. But it would not do to suddenly be sick while the coach was rolling down the roads. Fortunately, the children stayed mesmerized by the beautiful foliage as they rolled past, and Faye enjoyed helping little Alex identify the various flowers and shrubs.
Despite the pleasantness of the trip, Faye was exhausted by the time she and her family arrived at Daleshire Manor. She smiled softly to herself as the coach led them up the well-concealed drive to the plain, unassuming country manor. She had not been to the mansion since her time working for the Crown after Thomas had mistakenly kidnapped her. She thought about what an amusing story that was going to make to tell their children one day. She glanced at Thomas, thinking giddily back to the day he had held her here for interrogation. But she found him looking at her with an expression that matched how she was feeling. She giggled, reaching for his hand as the carriage halted.
Lord Daleshire greeted them warmly as the four of them walked up to the door. Alex wrapped himself around his father’s leg bashfully, but Alice stared at Lord Daleshire with vague curiosity. The duke looked at the children’s innocent faces and laughed warmly.
“It has been ages since I have seen these two,” he said, smiling affectionately. “I had almost forgotten their faces.”
Thomas scoffed and glared playfully at his friend.
“And what of my face?” he asked, pretending to be wounded.
Lord Daleshire laughed again, patting Thomas on the back.
“No one could forget your face, my friend,” he said. “Believe me, I have tried.”
The adults laughed together, exchanging greetings. The children began giggling but only because their parents were. Lord Daleshire ushered everyone inside, where he had a refreshment spread nearly large enough to make an entire meal. Thomas chuckled heartily, putting an arm over his former partner’s shoulders.
“Oh, come now,” he said, “there was no need to do something so extravagant on my account.”
The duke uttered an exaggerated scoff.
“Do not flatter yourself, Mr. Kenworthy,” he said, snorting to suppress a laugh. “I am merely hosting a small celebration of some big news I have to share.”
Thomas shook his head, smirking at his friend.
“Yes, Rupert, we know you are getting married tomorrow,” he said, teasingly. “That is why you invited us here, remember?”
Lord Daleshire narrowed his eyes at Thomas in such a way that Faye could not help giggling. He turned his gaze to her and playfully put his fists on his hips.
“Shall I kidnap you again, my lady?” he asked, eyeing her with mock suspicion.
Faye giggled helplessly once more, and her children joined in.
“Oh, how the two of you carry on,” she said, dabbing at the corners of her eyes.
One of the maids came and took the children up to the room Lord Daleshire had had set up with toys and books for them. As the children left the room, the duke turned back to the couple and beamed brightly.
“My news,” he said with exaggerated impatience, “is that I have resigned from the War Office. I did so a year ago, in fact, when I met my Sarah. I fell madly in love with her, and I knew that I could not risk putting her in danger. Just as you did when you were to wed Lady Faye.”
Thomas rose from his seat at once, so quickly, it startled Faye. She gasped and put a hand on her chest, feeling a brief twinge of nausea at the sudden fright.
Her husband walked over to his friend and pulled him into an embrace.
“That is wonderful news, my friend,” he said, clapping him fiercely on the back. “I have worried about you since I left the job.”
Lord Daleshire laughed boisterously.
“Why?” he asked. “Did you really think that you were my only means of protecting myself and staying safe?”
Thomas pulled back and glared at his old partner, shoving away from him in a teasing manner.
“It is just good to hear you are out of that dangerous line of work, as I am,” he mumbled.
Faye giggled at how childish her husband sounded as he spoke. As he sat down beside her, she took his hand and gave it a loving squeeze. She understood his happiness and relief at his friend having left that hazardous job. It was the same thing she had felt when Thomas had himself resigned the day before their wedding. She gave him an understanding smile, then they both turned back to the duke.
“Sarah is thrilled I have resigned, as well,” he said, growing serious. “And I know you must truly be thrilled.” Then, he grinned impishly. “Now, I shall have time to make good on that threat I made to you the day before your wedding.”
Thomas groaned in an overly exaggerated fashion, and Faye giggled again.
“Oh?” she asked. “And what threat might that be?”
Lord Daleshire continued grinning and winked at her.
“That I would make his life miserable by intruding at your home at any time,” he said.
Faye laughed once more and nodded.
“If you let me know in advance, we can scare the devil out of him,” she said.
Thomas glared at them both, but his smile betrayed his true feelings.
“Lovely,” he said. “What’s next? You will be moving in with us?”
The duke nodded firmly, his eyes still sparkling.
“Just as you moved in with me when we worked together,” he said.
The wedding was truly a beautiful one, one to rival Thomas’s and hers. She officially met Lady Sarah for the first time at the wedding breakfast and liked her instantly. She knew at once that the two of them would be fast friends, just as she and Selina were. And she was already looking forward to hosting the newlywed couple for dinners and parties. The pair talked until after the time when the dance floor was to open. Faye stood holding Thomas’s hand as the newlyweds danced, looking every bit as happy as she and her husband had been on their wedding day.
When the dance had ended and all the other couples began to find their way to the dance floor, Faye and Thomas joined them. She loved every opportunity she had to dance, especially with her beloved Thomas. And all at once, she realized she now had the perfect chance to say something very important to him. She waited for the dance to begin, knowing well that her husband would be gazing at her with as much wonder and amazement as he had the night they met, and during every subsequent dance since then.
“Darling,” she said, standing on tiptoe so she could be close enough to his face for him to hear her over the music and the other laughing, talking couples. “Alice is about to become a big sister.”
Thomas gasped sharply, the smile reaching his eyes before it had finished spreading across his lips.
“Is it so?” he asked, ceasing the dance to caress his wife’s face.
“It is,” she said. “I saw the doctor a few days before we left to come here.”
Thomas scooped his wife up in his arms and twirled her around in place, earning curious looks from some of the other guests.
“Oh, Faye, my love,” he said, placing kisses all over her face and making her giggle. “I thought I could not possibly be happier. But here you have gone and proven me wrong.”
As he placed a hand on her stomach and tears of joy filled his eyes, Faye kissed him softly on the lips.
“I have proven myself wrong in that regard as well,” she said. “Oh, Thomas, how I love you.”
This is the end of my novel “A Masked Lady for Mr. Kenworthy”. I hope that you enjoy it! Your effort to read it means a lot to me and I have to thank you for your love and support these difficult days!
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