By Mary Balogh
A Masked Deception
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He asked, holding out a hand. She felt inside her reticule and drew out a crumpled sheet of paper. She handed it to her son and he perused it quickly. "It is all right, my dear," he said, turning to Margaret, who still stood at his shoulder. "He is being given invalid leave, but only because the army is constantly traveling and his wound does not allow him to be of any use to his regiment. " Margaret smiled at him and touched his arm again shyly. "I am glad, Richard," she said. " "Dear Charles hopes to be at home within the week," his mother added.
She had still been trying to decide what to do the following week when there had been a tap at the bedroom door. Her heart had turned over, though that was not the entrance usually used by her husband. The door had opened quietly and Charlotte had entered, carrying a candle. She had still been wearing the green domino, and her mask had dangled from her free hand. "Meg, you were wonderful," she had whispered with enthusiasm. " "No, he did not know me," Margaret had confirmed. "But he was gone such a long while.
Even if she had spoken part of the truth, was it likely that she would have recognized him, masked and cloaked as he was, after six years? And what would have happened if his wife had been with him, as she would have been but for the sudden headache? There was some puzzling mystery here, but Brampton found that the mystery only heightened his desire to see his angel again. He galloped the length of the park again before admitting that something was threatening to dull his excitement. His wife! Had he turned unfaithful to her so soon after his vow to make theirs a marriage in deed?