Baldwyn slumped into the royal blue wingback chair and eyed her with suspicion.
“What are these important family matters, Grandmother? Please. I wish to be enlightened.”
“Your tone says otherwise, Baldwyn. Remember to whom you are speaking.” She was seething now. He had pressed her too far.
“Of course, Grandmother. I apologize. Please, continue.”
The dowager lifted her head and glowered down her aristocratic nose at him. Again her steel blue gaze sliced right through him, sending a sudden chill stampeding down his spine. He took the cup of tea offered by the maid and sipped, hoping to cover his momentary lapse in ducal composure.
“I have wonderful news for you.” That was debatable. “I have arranged a betrothal.”
The tea turned to sludge in his throat and he choked, spewing the mouthful he had just drawn from the cup all over the table before him. He glanced up in time to see the fresh brew dripping from the dowager duchess’s chin.
Her stoic glower told him all he needed to know. Death awaited him.
The maid was at the old woman’s side in an instant, fear radiating from her crisp green eyes as she dabbed at the duchess’s tea-bathed face. Baldwyn rose to offer his aid, but his grandmother’s hand shot up, freezing him in place.
“Sit down, Baldwyn. We shall complete the business at hand.” She wrenched the linen cloth from the maid’s hands and swatted her away. As she continued, she patted her forehead, cheeks, chin, and neck with the cloth.
“As I was saying…I have arranged a betrothal contract between you and the daughter of Lord Marks.”
Baldwyn’s blood curdled in his veins. Shock held him prisoner where he was, tying his tongue until finally he forced out, “Betrothal! You’ve gone mad!”
“I said, ‘Sit down’.” Her gaze leveled on him once more, compelling him to his seat.