More Than a Convenient Marriage?(66)By: Dani Collins
“You can, Ro. More than you know.”
Because he cared. He was letting down his guard for her and she recognized what a sacrifice he was making. She silently swore a vow of duty to protect, never wanting to hurt him again.
His mouth found hers and they kissed with a reverence anointed by salty tears. His hand in her hair was possessive and cherishing, his other hand gently stroking to meld her curves indelibly to his hard angles.
The door to the trailer opened and a male voice cursed. “Get your own room.” The door slammed.
Rowan choked on a laugh as they broke apart in surprise, breathless and blinking to see through her wet lashes.
“I’ve missed this smile,” Nic said, with a tender knuckle against the corner of her mouth. “But I agree with whoever that was. What are we going to do? I want to marry you now.”
“Are you sure?” His urgent determination lifted her heart into the stratosphere, but she forced herself at least to try to be sensible. “We can see how things go—have a long engagement. You and I...we have our clashes.”
“We’re both too headstrong not to. But I’d rather have a ring on your finger as a promise that we’ll work it out.”
The deep tenderness in his eyes turned everything in her to liquid heat, but she heard something else in his tone that touched her even more deeply. Implacable determination. He wanted a seal on this deal and no room for her to back out. Nic wanted her. Forever.
With a trembling smile, she held out an equally trembling hand. “Okay, then. Yes, please, I’d love to marry you, Nic. I love you.”
He drew in a sharp breath, like he was taking the words into him. His hands shook as he opened the velvet box and worked the ring onto her finger. “I only brought this to prove my intentions were honorable, never expecting you’d actually say yes...”
It was a perfect fit, but the dazzling diamond and its band of emeralds almost made her start crying again. “Not trying to buy me, huh?” she joked, in an effort to hold on to her composure.
“Go big or go home alone.” Nic’s grin was rueful. He offered her the key to Rosedale.
Rowan tucked it into his breast pocket, giving it a little pat. “You hang on to it. This is a package deal. I don’t want the house unless you’re in it.”
His chest rose as he took a big breath, and they both nearly fell into another passionate embrace.
Rowan made herself check her watch. “Help me show a bit of responsibility here. There’s a few hours of filming left. Then we can go back to my flat. It’s not much, but I have a feeling you won’t be looking at anything but the bedding.”
“I won’t be looking at anything but you.”
Eight and a half months later...
NIC NEVER CLOSED his door against Rowan, but with workers running table saws and nail guns at the bottom of the stairs while he was trying to work he’d not only closed his door, but started thinking about disappearing to Athens.
Rowan wanted to oversee the renovations, however. If she wouldn’t come with him, he wouldn’t go. It wasn’t his idea to change things, but she was insisting on finding a middle ground between keeping what they both loved about Rosedale while opening up the design more to his preference. Since that would make Rosedale very much theirs, he approved.
“Nic?” She pushed in with a confused frown, giving the door a baleful glance as she closed it behind her.
“I couldn’t hear myself think with the noise—are you all right?” He was always completely attuned to her moods. Both of them were still capable of putting on a facade around others, but they read each other like a book and Rowan was not herself at this moment.
He scanned her slender figure, stopping where her hands were wringing out the cordless phone like a wet towel. Her face was pale, her eyes wide with shock, her bottom lip caught abusively between sharp white teeth. She was shaking.
Stark concern lifted him onto his feet with instinctive readiness, adrenaline piercing his system like an injection of drugs. “What happened? Who was that?”
“We’re in labor,” she said, with a sudden beaming smile that instantly became slushy with trembles.
That was supposed to be a joke, he recognized, but his brain wasn’t computing humor when the implication was so huge.
“That was the agency?” His knees almost buckled.
If a crowd had rushed in here and hefted him high, touting him as a hero, he wouldn’t have been more shocked, elated or proud. Part of him had felt like it was a losing cause to chase adoption. The background interviews hadn’t been easy for him. He’d opened up for both of them, to give them this chance, but he couldn’t change the fact that he was perceived as a very distant man. The more they’d talked about what they might be able to offer a child, however, the more he’d wanted one. He hadn’t been sure he’d even pass muster as a prospective father—now this?
Rowan was nodding and grinning, her brimming eyes spilling happy tears onto her cheekbones. “They have a baby girl. Her mum was killed by a landmine and she was injured. She needs to stay in hospital for a couple of weeks, and will need a number of surgeries over the next few years, but—”
“Us,” he said, staggering his way from behind his desk to reach his wife in a lurch. “She needs us.”
Rowan nodded, sobbing as she threw her arms around his neck, “Nic, I’m so happy!”
“I didn’t think I could be happier than I already was,” he choked, lifting and crushing her to him, trying to absorb her lithe frame into his bones. “God, I love you. Look what you’re doing to me. Turning me into a father!”
She took his face in her hands and looked at him in the undisguised way that always made his heart bottom out. “You are going to be the most amazing father. I can’t wait to see it.”
He teared up, and swept her in a scoop against the racing pound of his heart, stumbling to the sofa so he could sit with her in his lap and stroke her shaking body with his shaking hands.
“My whole life is better with you, Rowan. Thank you for loving me.”
Rowan was so deeply happy and in love it was more than she could contain. Wiping her damp cheeks, she laughed helplessly, “I can’t stop crying and I want to kiss you!”
“Did you have the sense to lock the door?” In one powerful twist he had her gently sprawled beneath him, his weight braced over her. He paused, hand massaging her flat abdomen. “Can we do this in your delicate condition? Being in labor and all?”
She let out a peal of appreciative laughter. “Better hurry before we have a baby stealing our attention.”
“When you put it like that, I think I’d better take my time. I want to give you all the attention you deserve.” He covered her smile with a reverent, loving kiss.