Storming the Castle

Storming the Castle by Eloisa James Read Free Book Online

Book: Storming the Castle by Eloisa James Read Free Book Online
Authors: Eloisa James
Mr. Berwick announced. Turning to them, he said, “May I present Miss Damson.”
    “Most irregular, being introduced by the butler,” the old lady said irritably. “Well, who are you, then?”
    “I’m—”
    “She’s a friend of mine,” Kate interjected. “She’s come to help with Jonas.” She smiled at Philippa, and Philippa realized, rather to her surprise, that it was true. Even though she’d known Kate for only a matter of hours, they were friends.
    “I can’t hear a word over that howling,” Princess Sophonisba said. “I never heard of a lady nursing her own baby before. I’m sure that’s the problem.” She leveled a thin finger at Kate. “What that child needs is the milk of a hardy peasant. Yours is probably thin and blue. Though now I think on it, you’re practically a peasant yourself.”
    Philippa’s eyes met Kate’s, and Philippa said hastily, “I’ll just walk Jonas in the corridor until he calms, shall I?”
    “Yes, do,” the elderly princess said. “He sounds like one of the devils they like to talk about in church, the kind who have nothing to do but yowl. Wick, why aren’t you offering us something to drink? Just because Rome is burning doesn’t mean we needn’t fiddle. This screeching is terrible for my nerves.”
    Philippa settled Jonas into the crook of her left arm and nodded to the footman, who opened the door for her.
    In the hallway, Jonas waved his tiny clenched fists and wailed. He was pulling up his legs again, so his stomach must be aching. Philippa settled him on her shoulder and patted his back gently as she walked.
    If Mr. Berwick insisted on summoning her uncle, it would all be over. Her father would arrive within hours, and she would end up back in Little Ha’penny, married to Rodney. Jonas let out a big burp.
    “You have a lot of air in your tummy,” Philippa said. He was still crying, but he sounded more halfhearted about it. Another big burp erupted from his stomach.
    She kept walking, up and down, worrying at the problem of her uncle, her father, Rodney, Jonas, colic . . . what if she was wrong? If it was intussusception, her uncle would say there was nothing to be done. But . . .
    Finally, the door to the dining room opened, and Kate emerged. “Bless you,” she said, taking the baby. The moment he came off Philippa’s shoulder, he screwed up his face and cried even louder.
    “Hush, sweet one,” Kate crooned.
    “Try your shoulder,” Philippa said. “Like this.” She arranged the baby so he was lying over his mother’s shoulder.
    “But his head is hanging down. All the blood will go to his head.”
    “This way feels better for his stomach. Listen.” Sure enough, his crying did not cease, but the wails weren’t quite so desperate.
    “Go eat something,” Kate said, nodding toward the door. “We’ve worked it out. Gabriel is coming to take a turn in half an hour, and then Wick will take a turn.”
    Philippa nodded. “And then Princess Sophonisba, I expect?”
    Kate blinked. “Well—” She caught Philippa’s smirk and grinned. “Go eat!”
    Philippa returned to the dining room to find the prince seated at the head of the table, and Wick at its foot. She hesitated for a moment, uncertain where to sit.
    A footman stepped forward. “Miss Damson,” he murmured, pulling out the chair next to Wick.
    Two slender silver candelabra threw light on the silk damask covering, the gold-plated dishes, and a greater assortment of cutlery than she knew existed. For a moment, Philippa felt dizzy. Was it really only yesterday that she had been lying in the straw under Rodney?
    Could it really be her, sitting in a castle, eating with royalty? She didn’t dare look to her right, at Wick, or even more terrifying, to her left, at the prince himself.
    Across from her, Princess Sophonisba sucked vigorously at the chicken bone she clutched. “You’re pretty enough, but you look like a bit of a goose,” the old lady said. “Haven’t you ever been in a

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