In the Shadow of Your Wings (Northshire Heritage Book 1)(6)

By: J.P. Robinson


“Yeah.” He slanted her a rueful grin. “I forgot everything that night. Everything but your name.” A comfortable silence fell between them, then he spoke again. “Look Leila, I know everything I need to know about you. I don’t care about the past, only the future that we’ll build together. Nothing else matters.”

Malcolm sobered, staring ahead at the dark path that curved upward before them. “It’s too bad my father came home earlier than I expected the night of the party.”

One look at Leila’s outfit and Thomas had taken him into his study and launched into a fiery diatribe about the evils of lust. He had punctuated his sermon by ordering Greyson to throw “the Jezebel” out. Leila had been so furious she didn’t speak to Malcolm for a full half-hour.

“Do you think your father will agree?” She too had become serious.

“To giving me my inheritance?”

“To our marriage. You said he threatened to disinherit you unless you stopped seeing me.” She pointed to the diamond ring that glistened on her finger. “Obviously, you didn’t listen.”

Malcolm’s mouth flattened. “He wouldn’t throw me out.” He rubbed his hand over the shadow of a beard that clung to his narrow chin. “I’m all the old man has left. He wouldn’t have the heart to take it all away from me now.”



THE ROLLS-ROYCE SLID forward, gliding over the snow-spattered gravel road. While automobiles were becoming common in the metropolitan areas of Great Britain, Sussex was a rural county. The road they travelled was, in fact, better suited to a carriage than a motorized vehicle.

“Darling,” Leila moaned and placed a hand across her stomach. “Could you pull over for a moment? I think I might be sick.”

Concern flashed across Malcolm’s face and Leila averted her eyes. His naiveté was an endearing quality she could not resist.

“Of course.” Malcolm slowed the car down. “Just hang on a minute.”

Ahead, the tree-lined path yielded to a prominent hill that protruded out over the small village of Sussex and the vast, wooded acres of Northshire. The light of a brilliant moon flooded the valley. They crested the hill and Malcolm pulled the car to a stop. The instant the car was still, Leila opened the door, and rushed, groaning, to the side of the road.

She paused by a flat-topped rock and doubled over as though retching. With one hand on the rock for support, she slipped the other beneath her shirt and tugged a small, nondescript cylinder free from its place in the padded wire of her corset.

The fingertips of her right hand groped against a small ledge along the back of the rock, probing until they touched the edge of a wicker basket.

Finally!

She pulled the basket out and lifted the lid. A soft cooing reached her ears. Inside, a small homing pigeon, who trembled despite the warm fur that lined the carrier, cocked its head to one side.

“Leila are you alright?”

Malcom’s voice wafted over to her and Leila replied with another pretended groan as her hands worked feverishly.

She tugged an identical cylinder free from the small satchel beneath the pigeon’s feet and quickly replaced it with the one from her corset.

Then, coughing while pretending to vomit one last time, she released the pigeon, groaning to cover the sound of flapping wings. She slipped the basket back into the narrow crack between the flattened rock and an adjoining boulder. Straightening, she kept her back to the automobile while shoving the tube she had retrieved underneath her clothes. Satisfied at last, she turned around, wiping her mouth with a handkerchief.

“Leila, what is it?” Malcolm rushed over and Leila felt her heart clench. One day she would tell him the truth. One day, he would understand. One day.

“I’m fine, darling, really.” She threw him a pretty smile.

He eyed her skeptically. “Do you think you’re...?” His voice trailed off and she found herself laughing at his unspoken question.

“Malcolm, we’ve only been married for one night!” She laid a hand lightly on his arm. “Children take time to show they’re on the way.”

“Oh. I see.” Malcolm chuckled and let out his breath in a whoosh. “Well, I’ve got just the thing for you.” He took her hand and led her back to the car.