Upon a Midnight Dream (London Fairy Tales #1)(2)

His next words—though there was no way for her to know it—sealed her fate, her eternity, with that man. “I release you.”

Stunned, she closed her eyes to gather herself. “Pardon? Am I some sort of wild creature that begs to be released?”

Something flashed in his eyes before he regained his composure and answered, “Surely, you don’t wish to be betrothed to a man you hardly know?”

Rosalind scoffed. “And surely you haven’t been away so long as to forget the way that betrothals work. I would shame my family if I broke off our engagement. But your words tell me you are doing this for me, is that right?”

“Yes,” he said.

Rosalind clenched her fist, for her arms suddenly felt heavy, as did her eyes and her legs. Oh no. It was happening again. It could not be happening in the middle of the ballroom! Her tongue became heavy inside her mouth, and swaying on her feet, she managed only to ground out, “As you wi—” before she fell into his arms.


Stefan was at a total loss. A complete and utter state of awe. For never had a women ever fallen asleep while he was talking.


And that included the ninety-seven year old Indian woman who smoked that devil’s herb all hours of the night.

She managed to stay awake.

His fiancée, however, could not.

“Lady Rosalind?” he asked quietly, though he wasn’t sure why. Not only had he caused the greatest scandal known to the ton by showing up alive and breathing at the Season’s end, but then his fiancée had promptly fainted in his arms.

“Good heavens! Is she dead?” The Dowager Barlowe fanned herself vigorously as she motioned for help. Several people began whispering behind their fans as they watched the scandal worsen. Lady Rosalind moaned in his arms. The girl looked slightly foxed, though he knew she was nothing of the sort. Merely sleeping.

Just what he needed. More attention. By all means, gather ‘round! Seems I’ve single-handedly killed the woman I’m supposed to marry. Please, feast your eyes.

“Have you a place I can bring her?” Without waiting for the affirmative he scooped the tall girl into his arms and strode through the crush to the nearest room he could find. Not wanting to ruin her reputation, but unable to think of any other option, he pushed into the first room the dowager pointed to and promptly dropped the girl onto the leather settee.

“Well, we cannot just leave her in here alone. It isn’t to be done!” The dowager continued her incessant fanning, just as the object of their discussion let out a very unladylike snore.

“Is she…” He looked down at the beautiful face. Impossible. He didn’t trust his own ears. And then her bow shaped mouth opened, just slightly, and let out a puff of air. “Snoring?” he finished, completely astonished.

Stefan felt around him for a chair, because he dare not take his eyes off the sleeping beauty before him. He finally managed to grab at something and sat.

Directly onto his grandmother.

“Do you mind?” the dowager hissed.

“Apologies,” he said, leaping away from his grandmother’s’ lap. He raked his hands through his long unfashionable hair.

Make that three impossibilities in one night—the last and final blow to his pride being that he was so focused on Lady Rosalind, and consequently unable to think straight, that he landed in his grandmother’s lap. Something that hadn’t happened to him since he was a lad of eight.

“Well, I’m off then, have a brilliant time, Stefan. It is so good to see you back. I’ll be expecting you in the morning, and sorry about all that hoopla out there. After all, I had to play my part. Couldn’t let on that I knew you were back before everyone else. Think of what your father would say!”

“You did admirably.”

The dowager smiled. “Yes, well, I once tried for the theatre, many years ago, but did you know they don’t take to women with opinions?”

“I’m sure they don’t.”

“It is of no consequence. I shall leave you with—” She pointed, but words ceased. Instead, she shook her head and tsked out loud before closing the door behind her.

Stefan’s eyes were glued to the door his grandmother had exited, waiting for the inevitable.

The door jerked open once more. “Oh my heavens! I nearly forgot myself. You cannot be alone with her!”

Wonder of all wonders, he’s gone for six years and his grandmother, bless her soul, is ever so much the same as before. Why, even birds flying about drove her to distraction.

And he loved her to a fault. “Well, Grandmother, I can promise you that I’ll be the perfect gentleman. Now, why don’t you scurry off and have some sherry, hmm?”

“Yes, yes, only if you think it best, Stefan. After all, you are betrothed.” What she didn’t know wouldn’t kill her. With a satisfied huff, she patted his head—quite a feat considering the little woman had to nearly jump up to reach it—and closed the door for a second time.

Alone, completely alone with a woman.

Not that she was a relative stranger, but then again he had managed to shock her into sleep. How exactly he had managed to accomplish such a feat was beyond his comprehension.

Without much to do other than watch her, he took a seat on the sofa across from her and waited.

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