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Authors: Cheryl Holt
doesn’t comprehend what her role will be as my wife.”
    “So you were merely instructing her?”
    Aaron rolled his eyes. “I will be here for a fortnight or so. While I’m in residence, you will not quarrel with her.”
    “I’m in complete agreement, and I’m making plans for her to move out.”
    At the news, Aaron was taken aback. “Move her?”
    “Mother says it’s not appropriate for her to be at the manor while you and Mr. Blair are on the premises.”
    “But Miss Bernard is here too, as well as my housekeeper and a dozen housemaids.”
    “Mother is worried about appearances. It’s very important that Miss Etherton establish herself in the community in just the right way.”
    “It would damage her reputation to stay at Fox Run for a few weeks?”
    Iggy had caught himself in a trap. If he said yes, he’d be insulting Aaron. If he said no, there was no reason for her to be moved.
    Aaron couldn’t bear to imagine Miss Etherton living somewhere else. He would be at Fox Run for only a very short interval, then he had to head to London and the responsibilities awaiting him there. Namely his fast-approaching wedding.
    In the meantime, he was at Fox Run, and Miss Etherton was too. He suffered an incredible amount of pleasure from knowing he could come down to breakfast and find her in his dining room.
    The entire house was brighter and merrier because she was in it, and he wasn’t about to have her leave. Iggy and his mother be damned!
    “Mother and I feel it would be best if she left.”
    “No,” Aaron firmly stated.
    “She’ll remain at Fox Run.”
    “I don’t think that’s wise.”
    “And I don’t give a rat’s ass what you think.”
    Iggy gasped with offense. “Honestly, Cousin Aaron, there’s no need to be vulgar.”
    “No, there’s not, so let me be clear. She’s staying. Don’t argue with me about it.”
    Iggy was about to pitch a fit like the spoiled child he’d always been, but ultimately, he dipped his head in defeat. “All right.”
    “While she’s here, she will be welcome to behave however she likes. She can sing or dance or drink wine or ride my horses or chat with neighbors of whom you disapprove. It will be none of your business how she acts.”
    “I see,” Iggy grumbled.
    “You will not chastise or scold her for any conduct she undertakes, most specifically those that I have asked her to perform.”
    “I understand.”
    “If you can’t mind your manners, you and your mother won’t be invited to Fox Run ever again. You can sit in the rectory and pout about how unfair I’m being.”
    Two slashes of red marred Iggy’s cheeks. He leapt to his feet. “Will that be all, Cousin Aaron?”
    “For now. But if you aggravate me in the future, you’ll definitely hear about it.”
    Iggy spun to go, but Aaron stood and beat him to the door. He yanked it open, and as he’d suspected, Gertrude had been peeking through the keyhole. She stumbled into the room, struggling to muster her aplomb, to not look like a fool.
    “Cousin Aaron,” she sputtered, “I was…about to knock.”
    “Were you?”
    “I was wondering if Iggy could return to the party. There are guests leaving and they want to say goodbye.”
    Aaron simply glared at her until she shut up. Once she was quiet, he said, “My housekeeper informs me that you took it upon yourself to ensconce Miss Etherton at Fox Run.”
    “Well…ah…I didn’t suppose you’d care. It is a big house, and you’ve always been so accommodating to me.”
    “I do care—very much. Not that Miss Etherton is here, but that you felt free to extend the offer on my behalf. You will not presume again, Cousin Gertrude. I’ve instructed the housekeeper to check with me first from now on. She’s not to believe you on any topic.”
    “Fine,” she fumed. “Be that way—if you must.”
    She grabbed Iggy’s arm, and they stomped out.

    Aaron crept down the hall, feeling like a burglar in his own

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