After leaving his wife in her sitting room, Edmund returned to his library where the papers he had ignored earlier still awaited his attention. He would have difficulty concentrating on them now, after that amazing interview with his wife.
Where on earth had she gotten the idea that he would talk to her about his mistress? Obviously she thought he subscribed to the widely held belief that wives were for producing heirs, not for providing sexual pleasures.
Come to think of it, he wasn’t sure why he was so determined to introduce Melloney to the joys of the marital act. He’d realized on their wedding night six weeks earlier that not only was she ignorant about the procedure, which was to be expected, but she was also self-conscious to such an extent that she hadn’t been able to relax enough to enjoy participating.
He knew this was true of many well-born women, but somehow he’d expected more from Melloney. He wondered if his unrealistic expectations went back to that day he’d been out for a walk on his godfather’s estate and had happened upon her riding bareback across the fields. She’d been barely more than a child but she’d captured his imagination that day, appearing almost one with the horse as she leaned forward to grasp its mane. Her laughter had drifted back to him but that had quickly died when she’d seen him watching her.
She’d ridden toward him, stopping a few feet away and gazing down at him with gorgeous laughing eyes and hair blown into untidy ringlets around her face. Since she was riding astride the horse, her skirt had been hiked up above her knees, but she’d not seemed to care. “Are you going to tell on me?” she’d asked. “I’m not supposed to ride bareback, I’m afraid.”
“Who forbids it?” he’d asked, and when she replied it was her governess, he’d laughed out loud. “As long as it’s not my godfather’s decree, you may break any rule you wish,” he’d said.
At that she’d shot him a mischievous grin and turned her horse to ride back across the field again. He’d had to leave to go back to school the following day, and the next time he’d seen Melloney, her mother had just died and she was devastated beyond knowing who was there and who wasn’t.
He’d ended up being glad that his godfather had Melloney in the days following his wife’s death. Lord Reeth obviously had lost a woman he loved deeply, and Edmund wasn’t quite sure what his godfather would have done without Melloney to share in his grieving process.
He had been especially pleased that his godfather had Melloney for company when he’d decided to buy himself a commission and join Wellington’s fight against Bonaparte. He hadn’t realized how long he would be away from England, but following the victory at Waterloo, he’d come back home eager to put the war behind him and get on with his life. In the past two years, he’d forced memories of the war behind him, taken on the responsibilities of overseeing his estates, and indulged his love for thoroughbred horses, well-built carriages, and beautiful women. He’d thought he was content, but then he’d married Melloney and discovered he couldn’t make her happy in bed, and that was worrying him.
The thing was, he didn’t have the least idea what to do about it.