Grey felt momentarily as though he had received an actual blow to the pit of the stomach; his mouth opened, but he was incapable of speech. Or at least he thought he was. To his surprise, he heard his own voice, sounding calm, politely admiring.
“They are very handsome indeed. I am sure they are a consolation to your wife, in your absence.”
Von Namtzen grimaced slightly, and gave a brief shrug.
“Their mother is dead. She died in childbirth when Elise was born.” A huge forefinger touched the tiny face, very gently. “My mother looks after them.”
Grey made the proper sounds of condolence, but had ceased to hear himself, for the confusion of thought and speculation that filled his mind.
So much so, in fact, that when the princess’s special dessert – and enormous concoction of raspberries, brandy, sugar and cream — arrived, he ate it all, despite the fact that raspberries made him itch.
Diana Gabaldon, Lord John and the Succubus (Chapter 5 – Dark Dreams)