The Magic of You Page 6

Warren had wanted to. He still did. But

Anthony had merely laughed and told his 65 brother, "Felt the same way myself, old man, but you'll forget about it the same as she will. Depend upon it."

Three other Malorys had arrived not long after Warren had carried Georgina up to her room. The older brother Edward had come with his wife, Charlotte, who had gone right upstairs and hadn't been seen again since. And another niece, this one Regina Eden, had come right after them and had also closeted herself upstairs, though she did come down periodically to assure her uncle James that everything was going just fine, that "George" was handling it "famously," and the last time she'd come, she'd said teasingly, "But you don't want to hear what she thinks of you just now."

Edward had played cards with his daughter for a time, but now played a solitary game, ignoring the tension in the room. He had gone through this too many times himself for it to ruffle his feathers. The daughter, Amy, was curled up in an overly large stuffed chair, fast asleep, her chin resting in the palm of her hand. She'd seen to it that food was served earlier, and another midnight snack, but no one had done more than pick a little, some not even


A pretty girl, Amy; no--beautiful, actually. Every time he'd happened to look her way earlier, he'd caught her lowering her eyes, as if she'd been watching him. Too bad she was a Malory--what the hell was he thinking? She was much too young for him. She was more Drew's style, and he was welcome to her--if he could get past her uncles to get to her.

A quarter after four.

As much as Warren loved children, he was never going to go through this again. Not that he was ever going to marry to have any of his own. Women were the most perfidious creatures on earth. They couldn't be trusted. They couldn't be believed. If he didn't have a purely basic need for the company of one every once in a while, he'd never have anything to do with them again.

His sister was the only exception, the only female he cared anything about, and if anything happened to her ...

Still another Malory had shown up late in the evening, James's son, Jeremy. He'd been excited when he'd been told the news, jubilant even, too young to know about the complications that could arise, the risk, that there was nothing to be

happy about until both mother and child came 67 through the experience safely. But he'd taken one look at his father's haggard countenance, which sobered him instantly, and parted with the promise, "I'll send for Connie." Nor had he put in another appearance since. No doubt the parlor was too depressing a place to be for a boy of his natural exuberance.

Warren hadn't stirred at the name "Connie," which belonged not to a woman but to a man who, from what he'd heard, was James Malory's best friend-- and another ex-pirate. He'd met Conrad Sharpe at Anthony's house the night he and James supposedly had put their differences aside for Georgina's sake.

Not bloody likely, as his brother-in-law would say.


Then Regina returned, with Drew and Thomas on her heels--she'd been too eager to reach her uncle to

stop and tell them anything. But the smile that appeared when she looked at James told them all what they'd been praying to hear. The cheering started, waking Amy and even stirring Boyd from his drunken stupor. But James held his breath, silent, needing more than that beautiful smile, needing to hear the words.

Regina, understanding perfectly, went straight to James, put her arms around him, and said, "You have a daughter, and her mother is fine--they're both fine." Then she squealed as he hugged her back, too hard in his relief.

He let her go with a laugh and looked around until he had located Anthony. "Where's that bloody drink?"

It was still in Anthony's hand. Anthony lifted it; James took it and drained it, set it aside on the mantel, then pulled Anthony forward for some more hugging. Anthony, at least, could withstand it, though just barely.

He finally moaned, "Good God, James," then relented. "Well, get it out of your system before you visit George," he said dryly. "And don't cry, for God's sake. I did, but we both don't have to make asses of ourselves."

James just laughed again and pounded his brother's back. He was so happy it hurt Warren to watch him.

Warren had never seen the man like this, never thought to, didn't want to. But in those few moments while they shared the same gut-wrenching relief over one woman's well-being, there wasn't the least bit of animosity between 69 them.

When James turned and noticed him, Warren said, "Don't even think about it," referring to James's current obsession with hugging. But he was grinning as he said it, had been grinning ever since Regina's smile had communicated that mother and child were all right, and James returned it and came forward to shake his hand.

The congratulations continued, and a lot more hugging and backslapping. James finally tried to break away to go up and see his wife, but Regina assured him there was no hurry, that Georgina had promptly gone to sleep the moment her work was done, and Charlotte and the doctor were seeing to the baby.

Roslynn finally appeared, tired but smiling, moving straight into her husband's arms as she told her brother-in-law, "She's just beautiful, James, a Malory without a doubt. You can be assured this one won't look like Tony." Which told half the room at least that the newest Malory was going to have blond hair.

James, by now, was back to himself and replied, "Too bad. I was looking forward to teasing George about that."

"And giving her another reason not to welcome me into her house?" Anthony groused.

"She don't need any reasons I give her, dear boy. You manage quite enough on your own."

"He's warming up, Ros," Anthony complained good-naturedly to his wife. "I think it's time for us to go home."

But Charlotte arrived just then, holding a wrapped bundle that she crossed the room to place in James's arms. Silence followed, but James certainly didn't notice as he stared at his daughter for the first time.

And you never saw such a look on a man's face, well, most of the men in the room never had, a look so overflowing with love it was humbling.

The baby was closely related to every single person in the room, and they all gathered around her, the proud father quite willing to share her for the moment.

It was Anthony, remembering a conversation he'd recently had with his brother, who finally asked James, "And what, pray tell, are you going to name this little jewel?"

He thought he was forcing James to back down from one of his more perverse threats, but James stared at

him for a moment, then looked toward the 71 Andersons in the room and said quite clearly, "Jack."

Of course, a great many protests rose up immediately, some quite outraged. But James weathered it all, standing firm, and finally said, "Kindly remember whose daughter she is, and who has the rightto name her."

That, of course, settled it. The newest Malory, daughter though she was, was going to be named Jack Malory, though her baptismal records would record her name as Jacqueline-- as long as her Anderson uncles weren't present for it--and only her father was going to fondly call her Jack--if her mother had anything to say about it.

Chapter 7

"Just where did you disappear to last night, Jeremy?"

Amy asked the question as her cousin joined her in the breakfast room. Breakfast was being served, despite its being two in the afternoon, only because no one had bothered to get up any earlier, and this was what Amy had requested when she'd finally

crawled out of bed herself.

"Didn't think to see you here again so soon," Jeremy remarked, avoiding her question.

"I didn't leave, actually," she said as she started to pour him a cup of coffee, but paused to ask, "Would you prefer tea?"

"Whatever you've got there is fine. I ain't particular, and what d'you mean, you didn't leave? You're saying you ain't been to bed yet?"

Since she was wearing a different dress from the one she'd had on when he'd seen her last night, this one a peach organdy, and she looked as fresh as the fruit of that same color, his confusion was understandable.

"I promised Aunt George that I would stay over and see to the house while she recuperates. What with your housekeeper up and quitting last month, and the one who replaced her not working out and getting sacked last week, someone has to see to things. Or were you going to volunteer?"

He snorted. "Not bloody likely. But ain't you a bit young--was

"When most girls my age are thrown onto the marriage mart, fully trained to manage their own households, do you think that I, out of all of them,

can't handle it?" 73

Since her eyes, the exact same color as his, were narrowed on him, Jeremy flushed. "Didn't say that."

"A good thing you didn't," she retorted, "or I would've boxed your ears."

He gave her one of his more engaging grins to mollify her prickly temper, which he so rarely was the recipient of. She was a Malory, after all, and more than half the Malorys were known for having

formidable tempers. Just because her father was an exception to the rule didn't mean she was, too. But then, he learned new things about Amy all the time, since he'd become one of her closer friends.

Jeremy said now, feigning surprise, "If you're moving in--good God, all those bloody fops who've been batting down your door this past week aren't going to start showing up here, are they?"

"Not if you keep your mouth shut and don't tell anyone where I've gone to."

Now he was surprised. "You're willing to miss out on the results of your success?"

"Heavens, yes. I was looking forward to being treated as an adult, Jeremy, not to the customary expectations following a come-out. My sisters might have carved notches for each caller who showed up, but I'm not the least bit interested--was

"Why not?" he demanded, too impatient to wait until she had finished. "Don't you want to marry?"

"Certainly, and I fully intend to."

"Ah," he said, deciding he had the gist of it now. "You just haven't met the right chap yet. You're waiting till you do."

"Actually--that's it," Amy lied, not willing to admit yet just who her choice was, even to him.

"Is that why you volunteered to help George, so you could hide?"

"I happen to be very fond of your stepmother, Jeremy. I would have offered to help out even if I'd had dozens of things I'd rather be doing. The doctor said she's to stay in bed for at least a week. As I'm the only one in the family with no other responsibilities just now, it seemed only logical--was

"You needn't be so bloody long-winded," he said, uncomfortable because he'd apparently hurt her feelings. "I got your drift." Then he grinned again to lighten his testy response.

"It'll be pleasant having you underfoot." 75

She arched a single black brow, reminding him of his father and uncle, who used that affectation to perfection. "Will it indeed? Even when I won't let you avoid questions you try to avoid?"

"Noticed that, did you?"

"Couldn't miss it," she said dryly.

He laughed. "So what was your question?"

"Where you disappeared to. We thought you might have ridden clear to Haverston yourself to collect Connie."

"I sent Artie, though come to think of it, it'll take some luck for that old seadog to find his way overland to Connie's farmstead. It'll be George's fault if he gets lost in the country. If she'd just have waited until next week to have the baby, like she was supposed to, Connie would have been here. He'd planned to return to London for the birthing."

"What's he doing out in the country anyway?"

"Seeing if there's anything to salvage of the small bit of property he owns near Haverston. He's been away from it for so many years, he figures it's pro'bly gone to weed and ruin. 'Course, he's got money and time enough

to bring it 'round now, since he won't be sailing anymore either."

"Are you going to miss that, Jeremy, going to sea with your father?"

"What's to miss? I was never on the Maiden Anne long enough to get used to it. The first sea battle I got wounded in, and my father and Connie went to roost in the West Indies. Besides," he added with a decidedly wicked chuckle, "I'm having too bloody much fun these days to miss anything."

"Too much fun I don't doubt, considering how often you get sent down from school."

"Hell's bells, you ain't going to start sounding like George now, are you? She blisters my ears enough with her scoldings, and that ain't nothing compared to how Connie and my father lay into me. You'd think they don't remember what it was like to be eighteen."

She smiled at his grumbling tone. "I'm sure your father does, since it was around that age that he conceived you, though he didn't know it until years later. And I've heard what they say about him when he was on his way to being the most notorious rake in London, that he used to have a different girl,

morning, noon, and night, and that was every day.

Is that the kind of fun you're talking 77 about?"

"Blister it, Amy," he snapped. "You ain't supposed to mention stuff like that--and where the devil did you hear about it?"

She laughed, because he was actually blushing. "Reggie, of course. You know how she loves to brag about her two favorite uncles. 'Course, Uncle Jason and my father never had any high adventures to brag about, though I do know a thing or two about Uncle Jason that no one else does."

Source: www_Novel22_Net

Prev Next