Barnabas looked up from his contemplation
of the fire when he heard Quentin talking to Willie. "Quentin.
When did you get back?"
"Last night. Are you really going to marry Angelique?"
Barnabas rose from his chair. "I am. I see you've been told everything."
"You're sure this isn't another of her tricks?"
"Quite sure. Sarah is my daughter, Quentin. Julia did a blood test to prove it to her own satisfaction."
"Still -to marry Angelique -"
"Sarah needs her mother while she's ill."
"And once she's not?"
"I'll face that when it happens."
Quentin examined his cousin's face. "You're not still in love with her? Before I left, you had accepted -"
"I accepted that we would make each other miserable," Barnabas said. "That our shared past would be almost impossible to overcome." He sighed. "I never said that I didn't love her."
"Have you told her that?"
"No. Nor do I intend to. Have you seen Angelique?"
"She and Julia had just left for the hospital when I came down."
"The hospital?" Barnabas questioned. "Was Sarah all right?"
"They just went to arrange for her release, I think."
Barnabas sat back down. "How long are you going to stay?"
"For awhile, I think. Roger's- offered me a job."
"A job? Doing what?"
"He's decided not to travel so much, and since I apparently don't mind travelling,-" he shrugged.
"You're going to do it for him. No doubt Roger wants more time to see Julia."
"I didn't think I have misread that. Is it serious, do you think?"
"Elizabeth seems to think it is. Personally, I hope she's right. Julia's been a very loyal friend. She deserves to find every happiness."
"I'll have my daughter. That's all I need."
Quentin shook his head. "You know, Cousin, I always thought that I was the master of self-deception. I was wrong."
Barnabas refused to respond to that comment.
He and Quentin were in the foyer
at Collinwood when Julia and Angelique returned with Sarah.
Seeing her father, the little girl ran to throw her arms around
him. "Is it true, Father? Are you really going
to marry Mother again?"
"It's true." He noticed her look around the large room. "What do you think of Collinwood?"
"It's so BIG," she commented. Her brown eyes found Quentin. "Who are you? Are you a cousin?"
"I am. Cousin Quentin, at your service," he said, bowing gallantly. Sarah giggled, delighted. It ws impossible to remain immunized against this little girl's charm, Quentin decided, rising to see Angelique beside Julia. "And you are as beautiful as ever, Angelique."
"And you haven't changed at all, Quentin."
There was a twinkle in his blue eyes. "Did you really expect me to?"
Roger, Elizabeth, and Carolyn came from the study.
Angelique moved to stand beside Barnabas and Sarah. "So," Elizabeth said. "You're Sarah." Her smile was warm and filled with welcome.
"Yes, ma'am," Sarah responded politely, her eyes curious.
Barnabas answered that curiousity quickly. "Sarah, this is Elizabeth, and her daughter Carolyn. And this is Roger."
He had told her about these cousins -and about Roger's son David who was away at school. "I'm very pleased to meet all of you," she said prettily, curtseying.
"Welcome to Collinwood, Sarah," Carolyn said. She DID look like the first Barnabas' sister. David was going to be so surprised.
"Thank you, Cousin Carolyn."
She was tired from the drive out and the excitement, so Angelique took her hand. "I think you should rest, darling. I'll take you up to my room. Excuse us, everyone." Sarah gave Barnabas a hurried hug, then let her mother lead her up the stairs, as her father watched from the floor below.
"She's adorable, Barnabas,"
"I think so," he agreed.
"I can't wait to see David's reaction to her," Carolyn commented. "He was always so obssessed with the first Barnabas' little sister. And Sarah is her image."
"Yes," Barnabas agreed softly, his hand on the lamp shaped newel, "she is."
Quentin excused himself as the others moved toward the drawing room and climbed the stairs. He came upon Angelique as she closed the bedroom door behind her. "All settled in?" he asked.
"She was exhausted. I was surprised when Julia told me that you were here."
"No more than I was to discover your presence - or Sarah's. Let's go to my room and talk. I'm sure you won't be missed downstairs." She didn't rise to his bait, but led the way to his rooms in the West Wing.
"Would you like a sherry?" he asked, pouring himself a glass of brandy.
"No, thank you."
"Why didn't you tell Barnabas about Sarah before now?"
"I was afraid to," she said simply.
"Afraid? You? Of what?"
"Barnabas' anger, for one thing. He hates me enough already. Surely you can understand, Quentin."
He took a drink of the brandy to fortify himself. "You're forgetting, dear lady, that I know first hand what it's like to have the existance of my own child kept secret from me."
"That was different, Quentin. The two situations aren't comparable."
"You said that fear was only one reason."
"I didn't want to lose her to Barnabas."
"Do you really think that could happen?"
"It's already begun. Sarah and I are close, but there's a - bond of some kind between her and Barnabas. She knew who he was the moment she saw him, Quentin."
"He was very close to his sister, wasn't he?"
"Yes. They were more like father and daughter than brother and sister. I can't blame Barnabas for hating me -"
"You believe he hates you, yet you're going to marry him this afternoon."
"I could try to tell you that it's only for Sarah's sake - but it wouldn't be entirely true."
"Look, if it's any help -I wish you happiness, at least."
"It IS a help. I'd better go back downstairs."
"I'll come with you." He tossed off the rest of the brandy.
Barnabas saw them come onto the
landing together, heard Angelique's soft laughter, and for a moment
envied his cousin's ability to cause that sound. "Is
Sarah all right," he asked.
"She's asleep," Angelique told him, her blue eyes serious once again.
"Then would you come into the study with me for a moment? Quentin and Julia as well?"
Julia turned to Roger. "Excuse me." Roger nodded, but watched her until they turned the corner of the hall and heard the study door close behind them.
In the study, Barnabas drew a paper
from his coat. "I spoke with my attorney earlier this
morning about this, and he agreed this would be a good idea."
"What is it?" Angelique asked, not touching the paper he held out.
"I believe the term is 'pre-marital agreement'."
"Pre-?" Angelique's eyes were narrowed as she looked at him.
"I think you should read it before you sign it." She took it, thankful that her hand wasn't shaking to reveal her anger.
Julia spoke. "I'm not sure I understand, Barnabas."
"It merely states that Angelique will receive a more than generous allowance during our marriage. And if the marriage ends, she will be given a settlement at my discretion -and
finally, that Sarah will remain in my custody permanently."
"And why are WE here?" Julia asked.
"As witnesses," he informed her, watching Angelique lower the paper to the desk slowly, saw the spark of anger in her eyes. "I realize that I cannot force you to sign it, Angelique -"
"No. You can't. This is so- typical. You are becoming so like your father," she accused softly. "You're so cynical -"
"And who is responsible for that?" he countered.
"All I ever wanted -" she stopped herself in time and took a deep breath. "I will sign your- damned contract, Barnabas. Perhaps it will prove to you that your money has NEVER interested me." She picked up a pen from the desk as Quentin moved closer.
"You don't have to do this, Angelique."
Her glance was grateful. "I know, Quentin. But I'm going to." She signed her name to the paper, then turned and went to the window while Julia and Quentin witnessed the signature.
Barnabas returned the paper to his pocket. "Thank you. Would you mind leaving us alone for a moment?"
"Come on, Julia. Angelique, I'll be in the foyer if you need any help."
In the hall, Julia looked up at him suspiciously. "What game are you playing now, Quentin?"
"I haven't the faintest idea of what you mean, Julia," he said, his eyes wide.
Julia shook her head and led him back to the drawing room.