Six Months Later
Catherine adjusted Cornelia’s veil, smiling. “You make such a beautiful bride. Your father and I could never have imagined such a perfect match for you.”
“And a love match,” Peggy added, wearing her own rich gown as Cornelia’s maid of honor. “His Lordship worships the ground she walks on.”
“Peggy,” Cornelia chided. “He is not that bad.”
“Oh, yes he is.” But Peggy grinned and kissed her cheek. “Find out if he has a handsome, wealthy cousin somewhere for me, all right?”
“I will,” Cornelia promised, grinning back. “Although I’ve seen the way Norris Saxon looks at you. You might keep your husband search closer to home.”
Peggy blinked. “He looks at me? Like – that?”
“Yes, indeed. He is a fine man, Peg, and has a future here with Archie.”
“I except I should open my eyes more,” Peggy said, her tone thoughtful. “I never noticed.”
“It is a good thing I did. Archie noticed too, and I think is egging Norris on.”
“Let’s just get you married and then we’ll worry about me. Are you nervous?”
“With a bishop and Dukes and Earls and Lords by the dozen out there?” Cornelia asked. “I am petrified.”
Catherine hugged her. “You have friends out there, never forget that. You are not a commoner as you believed yourself to be. You have every standing in that church, and are marrying one of the finest men in the realm.”
“Lord Rochester has been taken off the market,” Peggy observed dryly. “Heiresses will weep buckets.”
“Cornelia is also an heiress,” Catherine reminded her. “We have no other children.”
“Beauty, money and marrying a peer.” Peggy shook her head with an affectionate grin. “I never thought you had it in you, Corny.”
Cornelia mocked slapped her, laughing, then a woman stuck her head in the room. “It is time,” she announced. “All is in readiness.”
Drawing a deep breath, Cornelia nodded. “I am ready. I hope.”
“Just remember you are a Dunstable, dear. You have a place in society and can hold your head up with pride.”
Cornelia did exactly that. Half expecting the Dukes, Earls, Barons and Lords who arrived to witness her marry the Earl of Rochester, she waited for the snide comments, the derisive looks, the condemnation as she walked sedately down the aisle of the church, her parents to either side of her. She saw no expressions save those of admiration, heard comments of her beauty, how lucky Archie was, how blessed they both were.
Standing at Archie’s side, she peered up through her veil, smiling as he gazed down into her eyes. Both Norris Saxon and Latham North stood at his side, wearing identical grins. He winked at her, nearly bringing an inane giggle to her lips. “I love you, angel,” he whispered.
Not sure if they should be whispering together, Cornelia murmured back, “And I love you, my Archie.”
She caught the bishop’s disapproving gaze, and blushed furiously. Archie grinned.
The ceremony dragged on for what seemed like hours before the stern man in the crozier finally declared them man and wife. Lifting her veil, Archie kissed her firmly on the mouth, sealing their marriage, and their happiness together. Holding his hand as they walked back down the aisle under the cheers and congratulations of everyone present, Cornelia never thought she could ever be so happy.
She found acceptance and love, her parents and good friends, and a husband who worshipped the ground she walked on. “What girl could ask for more?” she murmured.
“What was that?” Archie asked, leading her into the crisp winter air on their way from the cathedral to the reception hall.
“Just telling myself how lucky I am,” she replied, smiling up at him.
“I think I’m the lucky one, angel.”
“Then we will be fortunate together, in our love, in our happiness.”
Archie paused. “There’s a question I never asked you.”
“You can ask me anything, my love.”
“You do like children, don’t you? I mean, I want many children.”
Cornelia laughed, squeezing his hand. “Yes, Archie, I love children. And I will love all the babies you give me. I love you.”
He grinned. “Good. My angel. I love you.”
Ah, before you go...
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