Nebraska Center for Writers

by Victoria Alexander

Summer 1819


The lilting tone with its subtle accent drifted into the stables he'd rented for a workshop on the outskirts of London and for the span of a pulse beat, Matthew Weston froze.
He'd never thought to hear that voice again save perhaps in his dreams, late at night when his mind was free to remember what he refused to consider in the light of day.
It took every ounce of strength he possessed not to look up from the work before him on the rough hewn table. After all, hadn't he rehearsed this scene in his head a hundred times? A thousand? He'd practiced the right words, the proper manner. He'd be cold, aloof, indifferent. And why not? Her reappearance in his life was of no consequence.
He hadn't counted on the blood rushing in his ears or the thud of his heart in his chest.
"I scarce noticed you were gone." His voice sounded light, disinterested. Perfect. As if she'd been gone no more than an hour or so. As if he were far too busy to notice her absence.
For a long moment she was silent. His muscles ached with the effort of not acknowledging the significance of her presence and the strain of waiting for her response.
At last her laugh echoed through the stable and rippled through his blood. "I see you are still tinkering. It's most comforting to know some things in this world do not change."
"The world is constantly changing." Matt picked up the mechanism he'd been working on and studied it, as if it was much more important to him than her. As if he didn't care enough to so much as glance at her. But he did. More than he'd expected. He drew a breath to steady his nerves. "Constantly evolving. Nothing stays the same."

Reprinted with permission
from Her Highness, My Wife
Copyright © 2002
by Victoria Alexandere
Avon Books

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