The Chosen Bride

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A Lady Always Has Character

He hadn’t come by the time a doctor had arrived. Eleanor was beginning to get worried.

Katherine was withering in pain, crying only Drake’s name out. She refused to let anyone touch her unless her husband would come.

Eleanor feared for the girl’s life.

It had only been a few hours since her husband had left— double the time it should have taken him— and Katherine was on the edge of dying. Eleanor did not care as much for the child but more for the girl she had turned into a lady.

Eleanor had spent so much time carrying and teaching Katherine that she had accepted this girl into her cold heart. Not many people made it there.

Eleanor leaned over the girl and pressed the cup to her lips, “Please drink, Katherine. My dear, you must think for your own sake as well as the child’s.”

Katherine’s eyes were wide, like a frightened horse, “I cannot. I will not do this without him. I want him here now! What if he is dead, Eleanor? I cannot raise this child by myself. I would rather die!”

Eleanor did her best not to slap Katherine out of anger. She knew the girl was only speaking out of her fear, but Eleanor couldn’t let her die.

She paced out of the room. Eleanor knew that she could not take any more of her friend’s pleas. It was time for her to leave.

Katherine was in good hands as long as the doctor was nearby. Eleanor would not be needed.

“Eleanor, how is she?” A frantic voice asked, grasping her shoulders and shaking her fiercely.

Eleanor had to stabilize herself before her vision was able to focus on the culprit. Her first reaction was to slap him. Hard. Right across the face— to the point where her hand was stinging from the impact.

“Where. Have. You. Been!” Eleanor screeched in a silent whisper.

“I-I...” His voice faltered.

“Been acting rashly at a duel? You selfish bastard! She’s been in labor with your child for hours! She refuses to be touched by anyone until you come. She could die for heaven’s sake!” Eleanor hissed, clamping her hand down on his arm.

“Lady Eleanor, perhaps you would rather continue this conversation another time?” Drake said, trying to peel her hand off.

“No. You tell me right now where you were while your wife was withering away?”

Drake swallowed, his eyes lowering in shame, “I went to duel. I went as far as drawing my gun when Jacque showed up. I left James in the field and came as quickly as I could.”

Eleanor huffed in exasperation, “Then what took you so long?”

Eleanor watched as Jacque came up the stairs behind him, “We lost the horse. His leg broke just at the edge of town. We had to find another one for Drake.”

Eleanor’s mouth dropped at the sight of her husband. He was covered in god knows what and smelled of horse manure.

Drake pushed past her and into the bedroom where Katherine was.

“Why did you stick up for him, Jacque?” She muttered, placing her hands on her hips.

“You, my darling, need to let these things go. Life is too short to hold onto grudges.” Jacque whispered as he caressed her face.

Eleanor slapped at his hands, “Go take a bath, you nasty pig!”

Jacque left her in the hallway, laughing as he said, “You and I will need to go horse shopping.”

Drake sat against the window, cradling the small bundle to his chest. The small infant sighed in contentment as he tucked the small blanket around the child, “You look just like your mother, Mary.”

He glanced over at Katherine, who had fallen asleep after nursing their child. She looked pale and weak, like a cracked vase.

He could still hear her cries and pleas to be put out of her misery. He felt awful for letting his pride stand in the way of being with Katherine. If he could start over, he would’ve been there with Katherine and his daughter and not with James.

The arrogant brother of his had been the bane of his existence ever since his father had remarried. Everything that Drake did, James had to top. Everything Drake had, James had to have also.

The moment he saw his wife with James, his heart shattered. He knew it was only a matter of time until he lost her to James. He couldn’t risk losing her. So, he did the only thing he could think of that could stop James.

Drake offended him.

He never expected to be wrapped up in a duel. When Jacque rode into the field, screaming his name, his heart exploded. They had left James, gun blazing and voice hoarse from calling Drake a coward.

They had flown into town when the horse’s leg had caught in a pothole.

It was a wonder he had found another way back to Eleanor’s estate. When he walked past Eleanor and saw the way Katherine looked, he died. All he could do was hope to ease her pain.

Through the tears and the endless pleas, Katherine brought forth a tiny, blond baby girl. He swore from that day forward, he would never leave Katherine’s side again.

“Thomas?” He heard a soft whisper say. Drake looked over at Katherine, who had turned to look at him, “Is she okay?”

Drake smiled and stood, cradling the child carefully, “She has been sleeping ever since she got her fill.”

Katherine reached out for Mary, “Let me hold her, please.”

Drake nestled Mary into Katherine’s arms with a small smile, “She’s just as beautiful as you, Kat, especially when she’s sleeping.”

He sat down beside her and placed an arm around her shoulders, “You created a perfect little ball of joy.”

“Our little Mary.” She whispered, tears forming in her eyes as she brushed Mary’s curls.

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