And so she began a fantastical story about a future world of such wonders as could never be imagined. The hero of this journey was the princess, who was equal in all ways to a man, and in many ways superior, as she had knowledge of future inventions that defied belief. He found himself as drawn to the story as Prudence. When Charlotte fell silent, he clapped along with his daughter and expressed his admiration for the intrepid princess.

Yet the story was left unfinished. “And when does the princess meet her prince? Does he find the princess and save her from her trials?”

She shook her head. “The princess doesn’t need saving.”

He smiled. “Perhaps not, but how can she live happily ever after without a prince to marry?”

“Marriage is not the only path to happily ever after. The princess enjoyed her life as it was and wished only to return.”

He frowned at her frosty tone. He sensed he’d angered her but couldn’t imagine how. “Surely all women long for a family of their own? Without a husband and child to care for, her life would be without purpose.”

“There are other things to life than marriage and babies.” She leaned past him, her breast grazing his leg, as she pressed a kiss to Prudence’s forehead. “Goodnight, Prue. Sleep tight.”

She didn’t even look at him as she swept out of the room. What the bloody hell had just happened?