June 1, 1533

“My lady.”

Anne stirred, her dreams disturbed. In sympathy, the child within her womb kicked. The prayer that she repeated many times a day for the last five months came unbidden into her drowsy mind. A boy. Please let it be a boy.

“My lady.”

Still groggy, Anne struggled to put a name to the voice. “Bridget?” She opened her eyes gingerly. Except for the candle held by the woman standing beside the bed, the room was dark. “What time is it?”

“It’s four o’clock, my lady. You need to rise if you’re to make it to the ceremony on time.”

Oh god, she groaned to herself. Still exhausted from yesterday’s procession, she reminded herself that the culmination of everything she had worked toward for years was so very close at hand. Her security and that of her unborn child would be cemented today and the fortunes of her family would be linked with the fortunes of the nation.

“Help me up, Bridget.”

The child kicked again.

“He’s kicking,” she said, “impatient like his father.” A boy. Please let it be a boy.

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