... as they rose from the table Justin asked Julia to join him in his study.
He did not seat himself behind his desk, but instead perched on the edge, and watched her for a moment, a different silence from that used on [redacted for spoiler(g)]. Nonetheless, Julia's hands were clasped in her lap as she looked up at her father.
"Julia." He hesitated, and she braced herself for a long overdue lecture on her hoydenish ways.
"Julia. I am so thankful you are safe. If I live to be one hundred, I will never be able to express to you how much it meant to me to find you alive and unharmed in that cabin."
This was so far from what Julia expected that before she realized what was happening, tears were flowing down her cheeks. Her father pulled her into his sheltering embrace as she clutched his lapels and sobbed into his jacket.
"Oh, Papa, I was so afraid," she sniffled after soaking his shirtfront. "I was so afraid that you and Mama would be ashamed of me!"
"Here, blow," the earl said, pressing his handkerchief into her hand. "Ashamed of you? My darling girl, your welfare is my sole concern! And far from being ashamed of you, your mother and I admire your resourcefulness. Few young women would have dealt so well with your situation."
Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there who understand their daughters and sons, and love them, no matter what trouble they get themselves into. (Look for the re-issue of Smuggler's Bride in ebook, coming this September!)