Authors: Jennifer Lewis
Three years later
t’s lucky we have a home theater,” Lani exclaimed, after AJ’s umpteenth attempt to catch little Puaiti and return her to one of the velvet armchairs. Within seconds she’d popped up again like a jack-in-the-box and was running around the darkened room.
The credits for
Dragon Chaser 6: The Unveiling
were already scrolling on the screen.
“Yes, she doesn’t seem to find the series too riveting,” said AJ. He reached out to tickle her as she ran past. “But I suppose she’s a bit outside our ideal demographic.”
“She’d have a fit if you tried to leave her out.” Priia chucked Puaiti’s chin as she darted past her seat. “Always has to be at the center of the action, just like her dad.”
She looked fondly at AJ. They all knew that in Priia’s mind, AJ, not Vanu, who was rarely mentioned, was Puaiti’s father.
Apparently Puaiti took after AJ in every way except gender, including a passion for movies, though now, at age three, the Disney princesses were her favorites. She sported a yellow Sleeping Beauty gown as she leapt onto AJ’s lap and begged for more popcorn.
Her baby sister, Maya, slept in Lani’s arms. She could sleep through almost anything, which was lucky with Puaiti around.
“Ray did a great job. I don’t think I could have done better.” He gave Puaiti a piece of popcorn and watched carefully while she ate it. Lani had explained that popcorn was a choking hazard and AJ, attentive father that he was, took the warning seriously.
“I think you might have made the chase scene on the bridge a touch more dramatic.” Lani stroked Maya’s silky golden hair. “I suspect you might have added an aerial component involving the suspension cables.”
AJ stared at her, humor glittering in his eyes. “How did you know that’s exactly what I was thinking?”
“Well, I have seen your films a few times.” She glanced at Priia. “Along with your greatest fan.”
Priia dusted popcorn salt off her hands. “My AJ would have made the film very exciting, but he’s more valuable here in Rahiri.”
“Don’t you miss your shopping trips to Rodeo Drive, Mom?” AJ leaned toward her. “You don’t have any good excuse to fly all the way to L.A. to shop anymore.”
“Sweetheart, thanks to you and your tourism initiatives, I don’t need to. There’s going to be a Chanel and a Fendi opening right here in the new visitors’ village.” She leaned toward Lani and lifted a penciled brow. “Possibly a Ferragamo, too, but that’s not definite yet.”
Lani smiled. “I’m looking forward to the new JoJo Maman Bébé. Maya told me she’d like some designer diapers.” She winked at AJ. They both enjoyed teasing Priia about her passion for luxury labels. No one could argue that the visitors now streaming to the island brought funds to build schools, hospitals and other services that would have been unimaginable a generation ago.
“Smart girl.” Priia held out her arms. “Why don’t you give her to me and go enjoy the sunset. I know our littlest princess has been keeping you busy around the clock all week. Puaiti and I will read Maya a story, won’t we, Puaiti?”
The toddler pulled a book from her stash near the video controls. “She loves Winnie the Pooh!”
AJ slipped his hand into hers and the familiar thrill danced up her arm. They walked out onto the veranda as Priia recited the opening lines of
The House at Pooh Corner,
for probably the seventieth time.
The sun was setting over the valley below and she could just make out the roar of the waterfall under the animated hum of the evening chorus. The soft copper light animated AJ’s handsome features. She could swear he’d become even more gorgeous—as well as more dignified—since he’d assumed the role of king. The commentators on
had recently made the same observation, much to AJ’s amusement.
“Are you sleepy?” AJ stroked her cheek.
“Not in the least.” Her body hummed with fresh energy and she wrapped her arms around her husband’s waist. A shiver of anticipation made her lips tingle for a split second before they kissed. “Maybe we should sneak off to the throne room and lock the door so no one could disturb us?”
AJ’s dark eyes smoldered with familiar passion. “I like the way you think.”
THE PRINCE’S PREGNANT BRIDE
Copyright © 2011 by Jennifer Lewis
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The Hardcastle Progeny