Lady Crenshaw's Christmas

Lady Crenshaw's Christmas by Heidi Ashworth Read Free Book Online

Book: Lady Crenshaw's Christmas by Heidi Ashworth Read Free Book Online
Authors: Heidi Ashworth
her hand was still pressed to her head was more puzzling.
    “Here it is,” Lady Avery said, sinking to the floor beside the sofa and putting it in Ginny’s hands.
    “Thank you,” Ginny said, unable to resist asking, “Are you quite well?  You look so uncomfortable with your hand over your eye.”
    “Yes,” Lady Avery replied, nodding.  “It’s only that my eyelashes have caught in the prongs of my ring and everyone has been paying far too much attention to you to notice that I need assistance.”
    Ginny bit back a smile.  “It was very kind of you to find this for me,” she said and was taken aback to see Lady Avery’s eyes fill with tears.  “Are you in very much pain?  When the physician comes he shall look at it straightaway!”
    “No,” Lady Avery said, shaking her head, “it’s just that you are my only friend,” she confided in a loud whisper.
    Ginny, tears starting in her own eyes, reached out to take Lady Avery’s hand.  “Happy Christmas to you, Lucinda.”
    “Lady Avery,” she said insistently, tears rolling down her face.  “Happy Christmas to you, as well, Ginny.” 
    Lord Avery, sans dogs, had the sense to lift his wife and take her away, prompting the other guests to pick up the pieces of their Christmas ball and begin the process of ordering their wraps and carriages for the return trip home, Grandaunt Regina heading up the effort.
    Ginny pushed herself to a sitting position and gave her husband a fond look.  “I would say we are alone, wouldn’t you?”
    Anthony nodded, still seemingly unable to trust his voice not to betray his emotions.
    “I wish to give you my gift, now,” she said, putting the book in his hands.
    Anthony looked at it, uncomprehendingly.  “But this is a copy of Shakespeare’s The Tempest , the one from the library here in the house.”
    “Open it,” Ginny suggested.
    He did so and as he read the inscription, Ginny followed along in her thoughts the words she had written.
    Dearest Anthony,
    Together we have begun a new life, one that is part your world and part mine. Let us select a name for our child that speaks to this new life rather than one that harkens back to the old.  With this book I gift you freedom from what you feel you owe your forebears as well as the joy of looking forward to the future—our future.  You once spoke of your feelings for me through the words of Shakespeare’s Caliban.  It was then I knew my happiness depended entirely on you. I am so honored to bear your name and our child, as well.  Between these pages are a wealth of names, ones that will be ours alone.  You have but to choose.  G
    Anthony looked up from the page, the tears that had gathered in his eyes spilling down his cheeks.   “How did you know?” he asked, huskily.
    “How did I know what?” Ginny asked.
    “This,” he said lifting the book in his hand.  “How did you know how much it weighs on me, my heritage, both good and bad?  So many expectations to meet; I can’t hope to win the approval of every single one.  In choosing the name for the baby, I was attempting to please as many people as possible, Grandmama, my uncle, my mother . . . I thought naming our son after your father would please you, as well.”
    Ginny took his hand.  “It occurred to me after thinking about why you shouldn’t want to name our son Anthony after you.  I wondered if perhaps you felt you were expected to name the baby after someone but if your name wasn’t good enough, how could theirs be?  I realized you didn’t truly wish to name the baby any of those you suggested.”
    Nodding, he drew a deep breath and put a shaking hand to his brow, Ginny supposed to shield his still-wet eyes from curious by-standers.  “I thought we had lost the baby,” he confessed, “thought I might be losing you—and all for something so meaningless as a ball for the purpose of pleasing my grandmother and appeasing my mother who didn’t even have the decency to come.  And, if

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