ALONG CAME A ROGUE
There were many, many scenes deleted from ALONG CAME A ROGUE – 50% of the draft, in fact. In the original draft, Grey is the one who resists marriage while Emily pursues him to change his mind. My editor suggested that the roles be reversed, with Grey pursuing Emily. What that meant was that the second half of the novel—everything after their arrival on her family’s doorstep in Mayfair—had to be rewritten. This scene did eventually find its way into the novel, but in a very, very different form. Still, there’s something about the anguish in this piece that I love.
"In my opinion,” Dr. Brandon, the long-time Westover family physician, let go of Emily’s wrist where he had been feeling her pulse and patted her hand, “you’ve taken a bad fall, and the shock of it overwhelmed you and caused you to faint. You will have some nasty bruises along your backside, my dear, but nothing more.”
Emily gave a relieved sigh. Thank God. She had been so worried when she regained consciousness in the carriage as Grey and Kate rushed her back to Strathmore House, the accident now little more than a blurry memory.
Beside her on the bed, Kate Westover squeezed her arm reassuringly around Emily’s shoulders. “No head or spine injuries?”
“None that I see.” Bushy gray brows lifted at Emily. “I think your bottom took the brunt of the fall.”
She grimaced painfully and rubbed at her hip. “I know so.”
“And the baby?” a deep voice interjected from across the room.
Emily looked up at Grey. Staying well out of the way of Kate and the doctor during the examination, he now leaned back against the wall beside the door, arms folded across his chest, his head lowered. He’d carried her in his arms up the stairs from the carriage and gently laid her on the bed, then stood there like a sentinel while Dr. Brandon examined her. His attention had wavered only when Hedley called him into the hallway for a few minutes, Emily suspected, to report about the runaway phaeton and its driver who had nearly killed both her and Kate. And then he returned to his post, as unmovable as a mountain.
His dark eyes raised slowly from the floor to the distinguished doctor, and Emily’s throat tightened at the expression etched onto his face—one of worry, fear, and fury. “Was the baby injured?”
“Not at all that I can assess,” Dr. Brandon assured all of them, with a scowl at Grey. “But you should watch her closely for a few days.”
Emily glanced between the two men. The physician thought Grey was her husband and the father of her baby, or he would never have allowed him to remain in the room during the examination. Why Kate Westover had allowed it, though, was a mystery, except that judging from the harsh look on Grey’s face even the duchess might not have wanted to challenge his right to be there.
Dr. Brandon closed his black bag and lifted it from the bed. “And make her eat more. For God’s sake, can’t you see she’s far too thin?”
“Yes, thank you, Dr. Brandon,” Kate interjected smoothly as she slid from the bed with a grateful smile before Grey might decide to throttle the physician. “We’ll make certain she does.”
The doctor gave a little humph beneath his breath that left no doubt as to what he thought of Grey’s husbandly attentions—or rather, his lack of them—to his presumed wife’s health. “I’ll leave this medicine with you in case the bruises bother you.” He reached into his pocket and placed a small bottle of white powder securely into Emily’s hand. “One-half teaspoon per glass of water, as needed to dull the pain.”
“Thank you,” Emily told him quietly.
He gave her a smile. “I have no concerns about you, my dear. You shall be back to normal in a few days.” Then, his smile replaced instantly by an irritated scowl, he nodded curtly at Grey and snipped, “Sir.”
Kate placed her hand on the physician’s arm. “I’ll walk you down, Doctor.”
Grey ignored the disapproving look the old physician sent at him as Kate escorted him from the room and closed the door behind them, keeping his gaze focused unmoving on Emily as she lay propped up against the pillows on the bed.
Kate had placed a shawl over her shoulders to keep her warm while they’d waited for the doctor to arrive, and now it slipped down low over one arm beneath her blonde hair which had come loose from its pins and fell in loose waves around her shoulders. The effect should have been one of casual relaxation as she lay stretched across the bed. Except that she wasn’t relaxed, not at all, and she nervously tore her gaze away from his to stare down at her fingers as they plucked at the brocade bedspread beside her.
This was what she’d wanted, what she’d asked Edward Westover to arrange for her—time alone with Grey. Only now, she found herself not knowing what to say. Why have you ignored me all these weeks? Did I mean anything at all to you? Was I just another one of the women you bedded and left?...But the words wouldn’t come.
“Are you all right, Emily?”
A tingle swirled through her at the sound of his deep voice, but where there should have been warmth at his concerned words, there was only unease. The little hairs on her arms stood on end, and she could feel the tension in the room between them as if it were thick as water. Her throat tightening unexpectedly, she nodded.
“Yes.” But she wasn’t all right. Something was wrong, she could sense it. Very wrong.
He made no move to push himself away from the wall and approach her, not even to unfold his arms. “Hedley’s tracking down the driver of the phaeton. I should know more by this evening.”
Her fingers stilled. “It wasn’t an accident, then?”
She shuddered. Oh, God, it was happening again. As she pressed the heel of her hand against her forehead, she felt the familiar fear stir inside her chest, the same fear Grey had once chased away by holding her in his arms. “Whoever killed Andrew and set the house on fire…You think—you think they’re coming after me here?”
“We don’t know that for certain,” he tried to reassure her, but the grim expression lining his face told her otherwise. “Hedley’s investigating what happened, and I have men up in Yorkshire looking into things there. We’ll know more soon. No need to worry.”
No need to worry…She choked back a laugh at that. Oh, there was so much to worry about, and a goodly portion of it stood across the room from her at that moment, staring at her with soft, chocolate eyes alive with concern but his face set hard in contrast.
She drew a deep, slow breath. “You’ve been watching me, haven’t you?”
He took a moment to answer. “I’ve had my men following you since we returned to London.”
She shook her head, “At the dinner party, out in the garden—that was you. I know it was. Yet you didn’t visit me when I wanted to see you, talk to you.”
“No, I didn’t.” He made no move to cross the room to her, taking not one step to draw closer.
“Why not?” she demanded, letting her anger grow and replace the fear returning to her chest over the accident and the dread clenching her throat that even now he kept himself away from her. She pulled the shawl back into place on her shoulder and drew around her, seeking its feeble warmth and protection.
“You know why.”
“Well, my brother isn’t here now.” She slowly reached out her hand toward him in invitation and fought back the fear he stirred inside her, fear that he might never be hers again. “Come here, Grey.”
“Emily,” he countered plaintively, her name both refusal and warning. She wanted him to come to her, to wrap his arms around her, pull her close and tell her that everything would be just fine. But he didn’t move.
Physically beating back the temptation to fly across the room to his arms, she leaned forward and reached her hand toward him. “Come to me, you stubborn man.”
Her command wasn’t exactly a test of his feelings, or a challenge, but some unnamable part of her heart told her that he needed to move toward her, that he needed to be the one to take this step. Even as her chest grew heavy and tightened harder around her pounding heart, she somehow knew that if he wouldn’t come to her now…Oh, God, she’d lose him forever.
“I have something I want to show you.” When he still did not move, she swallowed hard and added, “Please.”
For a long moment, he remained motionless except to flick his eyes between her and her outstretched hand, and she saw his eyes narrow briefly before he drew a deep breath, as if making his decision.
He pushed himself away from the wall and slowly crossed the room to her, to slide his hand into hers.
But as her fingers laced through his, the relief she expected didn’t come. He was distracted, hesitant to come any closer to her as she sat on the bed, and the fear and dread still swirled inside her, making her heart pound in an anxious tattoo. His hand rested in hers, but somehow, miles now stretched between them.
She forced a smile and placed his hand over her belly, round and firm beneath his palm.
“Can you feel it?” She curled her fingers against his, desperate to find a way to bring him closer, both physically and emotionally. “The baby’s moving.”
His breath held, he gently pressed his palm against her and waited. She stared up at his face, at the lips she’d once kissed lovingly, and as she longed for him to simply lean down and give her those same kisses again, his brow frowned in concentration. Could he feel it, her rapid pulse pounding with worry and nerves, the way her breath came quiet but uneven in the silence between them?
Then—a small flutter beneath their hands, a tiny movement inside her. He gasped, his wide eyes flying up to hers in surprise, and the sensation came again.
With a laugh of wonder, he sank down to sit on the edge of the bed next to her and reached his other hand toward her, completely covering her belly, his fingers splaying out possessively. “Amazing,” he murmured.
Her shoulders sagged, and she sighed, “I’ve missed you, Grey, so much—”
At her words, his body stiffened, and he began to slide from the bed and move away from her once again.
No! Her heart wrenched as she grabbed for him, fighting with every ounce of herself to keep him with her. To make him realize how much she cared about him and needed him. When her hand touched his chest, he froze, one foot on the floor, one hip still on the bed beside her.
“Let me go, Emily,” he requested quietly, his face set somberly as he gently pulled her fingers away from his waistcoat.
“No,” she whispered almost silently, knowing fully well he meant more than just releasing her desperate hold on him. He meant from her heart and her life.
“Let me go,” he repeated, as if he didn’t have the will to push her away.
Oh, God—her eyes stung with instant tears, hot on her lashes. She unclenched her fingers, and he slipped away from her gasp.
Standing at the side of the bed, he folded his arms across his chest and looked away, toward the window and the warm afternoon outside. She stared at him, her vision growing watery, as she could barely dare to let herself believe she was losing him. Again.
Her hands clenched in frustration. “Grey, what’s wrong? Why can’t you—”
“No matter what happens, Emily,” he assured her, his eyes finally turning to gaze at her, although an oddly distant note sounded in his voice, “I will protect you.”
No…oh, no…no! Her throat clenched as a sharp pain pierced through her. He was working his way up to telling her something, something instinctively knew would shatter her, and she fought back the trembling in her voice as she repeated, “No matter what?”
His head jerked a nod, his gaze dropped from hers to the floor. “I’ve made a decision. That’s why I agreed to meet with you today. You deserve to be the first to know, even before the Colonel and Thomas.”
“How thoughtful of you,” she murmured, pain and bitterness edging the words.
Although he didn’t look at her, he flinched as he registered her sarcasm, and immediately, she regretted it—her world was slipping away from her and her heart was breaking, but what did she expect? He’d never lied to her about what kind of man he was or what he wanted from the women who shared his bed, and if she’d been so foolish as to believe that she was somehow different from the others, then it was her fault for being so naïve.
“The War Office needs men on the continent now that the wars are over. Bathurst asked me to take a position there,” a slight pause, but she noticed it. Of course she noticed—she noticed everything about this man, but clearly, she did not know him at all, “and I’ve accepted.”
Her heart stopped. Grey was leaving her, just as he’d told her he would that day in the carriage, just as he eventually left all the women in his life. More than that—he was putting an entire continent between them. He wasn’t simply burning bridges between them; he was now blowing them up, shattering them into a million splinters that she’d never be able to put back together.
Her body flashed numb from the wave of instant pain and grief sweeping over her so hard and fast it stole her breath. She’d been weak and utterly mad to believe she mattered to him as something more than a few nights’ pleasure, when he had openly warned her that she was perfect for him. Perfect. Because she could do nothing to stop him from moving on when he no longer wanted her.
And obviously, Grey no longer wanted her.
He was speaking again, but her numb mind only half-heard. “…I’ll stay in London until the baby arrives, to protect you,” he told her quietly, tearing his eyes away from her to stare at the floor. “And then I have to leave.”
“To where, exactly?” she asked if she’d misunderstood his intention, uncertain how she was even able to form the words. She swallowed hard, knowing the answer even as she asked the question but needing to hear him tell her, “For how long?”
He shrugged a shoulder, his eyes still staring at the floor. “Years…maybe for good.”
“I don’t want you to go,” she told him firmly, daring him to contradict her even as her voice trembled and her hands shook. She blinked rapidly, forcing back the tears through sheer will-power because she didn’t think she could bare it if he saw her cry and felt pity for her—pity for the woman he’d used and then pushed away. The woman who was too naïve to believe him when he warned he’d do exactly that. “I need you, so does this baby.”
“I’ll make certain you and your child are protected. There’s no need to—”
“No!” she cried out between clenched teeth. Please, God, don’t let the tears come! “Don’t—don’t you dare tell me not to worry, that you’ll arrange for other men to watch over me.”
His eyes rose to meet hers, and the flash of guilt she saw in their chocolate depths proved her right, that he had planned to assure her of exactly that.
“After all the secrets we’ve shared, after all that we’ve been through together…” Her hands clenched the shawl into her fists. She was furious. “You’re going to leave, just like that?”
For a moment, she thought she saw him soften, thought she saw his shoulders slack and his hard façade begin to crumble—but when he shook his head and his face grew hard, his eyes dark, she knew she was mistaken. Just as she was mistaken about the emotions he never felt for her.
“From the beginning, Emily, I’ve told you—”
“That you would love me and leave me,” she finished for him.
Despite the quick narrowing of his eyes at that accusation, he said nothing in his own defense, and her face burned with frustration and anger, pain and humiliation.
“Is that what this is, then? You’re trying to prove to me what a rake you are, after all?”
“Of course not,” he bit out. “I’ve told you from the beginning the truth of who I am. Nothing has changed that, nothing ever will. We live in two different worlds, brat, now more than ever.” His eyes glanced meaningfully toward her belly. Blowing out a harsh breath, he ran a hand through his hair. “It was never a mistake being with you, you have to believe me in that.”
With a quick, angry swipe to her eyes, she didn’t know what to believe about him anymore.
“But that’s all it can ever be for us. A few nights between worlds.”
“It doesn’t have to be like—”
“No, it is exactly like that. This world—” He gestured angrily through the air with his hand, indicating the elegant room around them, the townhouse, Mayfair…every bit of London society that held him in disdain “—this world can never be mine. You know that. You’ve known that all along.”
And God help her, she had known. She just hadn’t been willing to believe. “So you’ve made your decision,” her throat tightened so hard she could barely form the words, “and there’s nothing I can do to make you stay.”
“Then leave.” Her heart tearing, she turned her face away, the pain and humiliation of looking at him too much to bear as the first tear fell down her cheek. “Now.”