Authors: Kate Walker
He glanced around at the huge farmhouse kitchen, grimaced slightly, his mouth twisting wryly.
âThis isn't exactly the best place for this, but I can't wait any longer. Meggieâhow would you feel if I said that I loved you?'
That âMeggie' had caught her on the raw. It was so long since she had heard him call her by the shortened, affectionate form of her name. Before she had time to think, her eyes had filled with tears and she was blinking hard to hold them back.
Then she realised just what he had finished the question with and she gave up on restraint and let them fall.
!' Cesare's tone was shocked and bewildered. âWhat have I done? I'm sorry. I didn't mean to upset you! I justâ'
âJust said the thing I most wanted to hear in all the
world,' Megan put in hastily, her hands going out and closing over his. âOh Cesare, did you mean it?'
âCould you doubt it? Yesâ
I love youâ¦'
The rest of his words were smothered against his lips as Megan flung herself into his arms and kissed him hard. They were both breathing fast, their hearts thudding loudly by the time they managed to separate again.
Megan's spirits were bubbling, her heart soaring, singing, until she felt it would burst with happiness.
âDo you know how long I've waited for you to say that? How I've dreamed, prayedâ¦'
âBut you said that living here with me was like being a prisoner.'
âBeing here, with you,
without your love
, was like being in prison,' Megan corrected gently. â
your love, I'd never want to be anywhere else.'
âThen I did hear right. What you said to Rowell about loveâ¦'
âAbout knowing what it's really like? Yes, you heard right, my darling. I knew I had never felt anything like love for Gary because deep in my heart you had always been the one. It's just thatâthat I got a little off track for a while at the beginning of the year.'
She knew that Cesare had understood by the way that his face sobered swiftly.
âAfter the New Year party. Meggie, I'm so sorry about that. I never meant to hurt you so badly.'
She laid her hand across his lips to silence him.
âI know now why you did it. You'd given my father your word. And if the way you kept to that, in spite of everything, shows me how you'll keep our wedding vows, then we're going to have a wonderful, lasting, lifetime of marriage.'
âOh, I hope so!' Cesare declared fervently. âI shall need a lifetime to show you how I feel about you.'
He put his feelings into actions, hugging her close and taking her mouth again.
âCesare,' Megan managed eventually when at last he released her so that she could gasp in a few much-needed breaths. âWhat was it that Gio said?'
âWhen he made me realise what a fool I'd been?'
Cesare reached for her left hand, ran his finger over the shining golden band that he had placed on it a few months before. Then he lifted it to his lips and pressed a lingering kiss on both finger and ring.
âIt was quite simple really. He told me that every day since Lucia had died he had never gone to sleep without wishing that he could tell her how much he loved her just one more time. If I needed anything to bring home to me how much time I was wasting, then that was it. I couldn't get here quick enough.'
âYou got here just in time,' Megan said and they both knew that she didn't just mean because of Gary Rowell.
Still holding her hand, he looked deep into her eyes.
, will you really stay with meâcan we truly start again and have a real marriage as husband and wife?'
âI can think of nothing I would want more.'
Relief flooded his face and the wide, wonderful smile that she loved came back with a vengeance.
âThen I think that at last we're readyâ¦'
âReady for what?' Megan asked curiously. But he only shook his head, his expression mysterious.
âYou'll see. Come with me.'
He led her out of the kitchen and up the stairs. Turning away from the room that had been theirs since they had
arrived in Sicily, he took her down the landing to a door at the end. Pulling a key from his pocket, he unlocked the door and pushed it open. Then caught at her arm to hold her back as she moved forward.
It was a gasp of surprise as he swung her off her feet, carried her into the room.
If she'd been surprised before, now she was stunned. Staring round her in bewilderment she recognised everything. The bed, the furniture, the curtains. Even the nightdress lay spread out on the downy gold and green quilt.
âItâit's your roomâthe one in Englandâ¦' she stammered and saw his dark head nod agreement.
âThe one where we should have spent our wedding night if we hadn't been interrupted by events. I had everything brought from England in the hope that this day might arrive.'
Carrying her across the room, he lowered her to the bed and sank down beside her.
,' I never got to have the wedding night I wanted. The one I wanted you to have. I was going to tell you how I felt then.'
âYou can tell me now.'
âI can and I will. I can tell you that I love you with every breath that's in my body, with every beat of my heart, and I'll go on loving you until both of them stop. I love you more than life; you are my reason for living, the light that welcomes me into every new day. And if I can start each of those new days by telling you how much I love you then, no matter what the day holds, I will be happy.'
âOh Cesare!' Megan sighed, reaching for him. But to her astonishment, he stilled her gently.
âBut that's not all. Then I was going to take you in my arms and kiss your faceâ¦your hair, your eyesâ¦
He suited action to the words, kissing her until her mind was swimming with delight.
âAnd then?' she sighed.
âAnd then I was going to take the clothes from your body, kissing every inch of your skin as I uncovered itâ¦'
The breath caught in Megan's throat in delighted anticipation and she lay back, submitting completely to his attentions as he did just that. By the time he had finished she was burning with heat and her pulse was throbbing ferociously.
âAnd then?' She could barely get it out.
âI was going to caress your breasts, hold them, kiss them, suckleâ¦'
The words were lost as his passion destroyed his restraint, his ability to speak. And Megan too was there with him, moaning her need, the need he had ignited, the need they both shared.
The need to seal their love with this perfect act of union.
And it was perfect. It was slow and gentle and sensuous and giving. And when they both reached the moment of ecstasy together she knew there could be no better beginning to their real married life.
âSweetheart,' Cesare whispered a long, long time later when some degree of calm had returned, and with it the ability to think. âAre you really pregnant?'
âYes, I am. And this time it's real.'
She reached for his hand, laid it on her body.
âThis time I had it confirmed. That's where our baby is, my love. That's where he or she is lying safe and secure, growing bigger every day.'
His sigh of contentment seemed to come right from his soul it was so deep and strong.
âSo then I think it's time for thisâ¦'
And reaching under the pillow, he pulled out the jeweller's box and flipped it open, revealing a stunning ring, a deep-red, heart-shaped ruby surrounded by brilliant diamonds.
âCesare!' Megan gasped. âIt's wonderfulâbut whatâ¦?'
âIt was going to be the last thing I did before we fell asleep,' he told her. âIt's the engagement ring I never had a chance to give you. I was going to give it to you and ask you all over again, and properly this time, if you would do me the very great honour of becoming my wife. And I was going to beg you not to keep me waiting long for an answer.'
He looked deep into the green depths of her eyes as he spoke and he saw her smile start there before it had even touched her mouth.
âI won't,' she whispered, âI won't keep you waiting a moment longer. And of course, my darling, the answer is yes.'
THE SICILIAN'S WIFE
First North American Publication 2003.
Copyright Â© 2002 by Kate Walker.
All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including xerography, photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, is forbidden without the written permission of the publisher, Harlequin Enterprises Limited, 225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada M3B 3K9.
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