The American Heir(The Billionaire Duke Series Book 4)(3)By: Gina Robinson
My mind stumbled. "You asked not to tell you the results," I said, confused. And still edgy and angry. "You begged me not to tell you—"
"I"—she tapped her chest—"I am the rightful duchess. The rightful heir to this dukedom. Not just the great-great-niece of a former duchess. But the direct descendant of the duke. I am the American heir.
"It's all spelled out in that letter I found in the Dead Duke's mother's Bible. When were you going to tell me? Ever?"
My hands shook. "I don't know what the hell you're talking about." I pointed to myself. "I'm the rightful heir of this place. Me. And no one else."
She cupped her still flat abdomen. "And this baby."
I glared at her. "Only if it's a boy." I turned on my heel and took a step toward the door.
"Troglodyte!" she screamed at me. "A girl may not be able to be duke. But she can inherit this estate. She will inherit this estate. The entailment is broken, Riggins. You can leave the estate to whomever you want. And it damn well better be this baby!"
I stormed out, shaking with rage and hurt. Ignoring the shattered rose petals and the gift box of diamond lingerie I'd left on the dresser. I raged all the way to the master suite, the lord of the castle's room, and banged the door shut so hard I swore the whole castle shook.
I collapsed on the bed, elbows on my knees, head in my hand. What the fuck am I going to do now?
I let Riggins go. Just let him walk. While I sat on the floor, trembling, leaning against the toilet bowl, trying to calm my stomach and my nerves. Clutching a toilet for support. This had to be a new low. Damn him. Just damn him.
I blinked back as many tears as I could and wiped the ones that escaped with the back of my hand. I'd gone on the attack intentionally.
I was angry with him. And my feelings were hurt. Which fueled my wrath and made it easier to lash out. But more than that, I couldn't let him say that he didn't want this baby. I couldn't. I wouldn't. There were things he'd never be able to unsay. Accusations that could never be rescinded. Lines I couldn't bear for him to cross.
Bounds he'd never forgive himself for stepping over.
Oh, I wasn't stupid or blind. I knew what he was thinking. It had been written plainly on his face. He thought I'd tricked him into marriage by pretending to comply with his wishes and gotten pregnant on purpose to get my hands on more millions. To make a land grab for the estate I was so clearly completely in love with. That I had schemed to be the dowager duchess and mother of a future duke forever. To gain control of a generous trust fund and have lasting influence over the estate for my lifetime.
He gave me more credit for cunning than I probably deserved. I was many things. But conniving generally wasn't one of them.
But he thought all of these things, and probably more, in the black, curling smoke of his dark thoughts. Thoughts that blinded him to the joy. To the solution to his problems.
He was too angry and hurt right now to see reason. And I was too weak to make him. Or even try to convince him.
It was one thing not being naïve. One thing to know he was thinking these things. But a completely different situation to hear him voice them. To have him hurl them at me with the venom of his shock poisoning his reason, words, and emotions.
It would break my heart irreparably if he said them aloud. Eventually, it would break his, too. And it would break us apart.
There were very few things I was certain of in this world. But among them were these—my baby would have a present and active father. Riggins wasn't going to abandon this baby. Not as long as I had breath in my body. And I wasn't going to abandon my family ancestry. I wouldn't let the Feldhem legacy die. I was a Feldhem. A real, true Feldhem. Feldhems had held this land for centuries. I wouldn't be the duchess who let it go. And Riggins wouldn't be that duke, either.
I was going to have my duke, my baby, and Sid was going to be cured. I wasn't giving up on any of it. We were all going to live happily ever after if it killed me.
I stood up shakily and leaned against the bathroom counter. Riggins had come home to surprise me. That gave me hope. I had to believe whatever had driven him here hadn't been murdered by this temporary setback.
My parents dying when I was young. Sid's health problems. All the tragedies of my life had made me tough. Made me a fighter. Molded me into an eternal optimist. What alternative did I have?
I felt weak as I made my way into the bedroom and discovered red rose petals littering the carpet just inside the bedroom. The smashed remains, bare stems now, forlornly wrapped in florist's paper, lay on the dresser next to a prettily wrapped gift box from an expensive lingerie store in Seattle.
I ignored the dead roses, grabbed the box, which was surprisingly heavy for lingerie, and lifted the lid. Inside, the gift was wrapped in pink tissue and sealed with a gold embossed sticker. I peeled the sticker away, pulled back the tissue, and gasped. Sparkling back at me was the sexiest jeweled bra I'd ever seen and a tiny pair of matching thong panties. I wasn't going to fit in these for long. I suddenly regretted the pregnancy only in the sense these lovely things deserved to be worn often.