One look at her face told him that no matter how hard he tried to convince her she was not going to believe him.
He took a deep breath.
‘Lizzie, do you know why this—’ he touched her still flat stomach ‘—happened?’
‘Of course. It happened because I desired you.’
Ilios shook his head.
‘No, it happened because I allowed it to happen—because secretly I wanted it to happen, even if I wouldn’t let myself recognise that fact at the time. Something in me, something stronger and braver than I was, knew what I most needed.’
He was holding her hand in his own, making her feel safe and protected, making her wish…
‘I admire you more than I believed it possible to admire anyone—man or woman. I respect you and I value you—as a person, not just as the woman I love. Before I knew I loved you I knew that I wanted you to be the mother of my sons. I knew that the night we made love. I knew it, and because I knew it I deliberately chose to ignore the fact that we weren’t using any contraception. Even if I refused to recognise it at the time I know now that I wanted you to have my child, Lizzie. I wanted to tie you to me and I knew that you could not have a child and not love it. Please stay. Please stay and let me prove to you that I do love you. I need you, Lizzie. You’ve changed me, made me unrecognisable to myself, and I need you to help me understand the person I’ve become. I need you to show me how to be the man you want me to be. I grew up without learning what love is. I need your help so that I can understand it. You humble me, Lizzie—with everything that you are.’
Could she believe him? Dared she?
He was going to lose her. In his pocket he could feel her wedding ring, the diamond of her engagement ring. Impulsively he dropped down on one knee in front of Lizzie, and removed the rings from his pocket.
‘Please wear these again for me, Lizzie—for me, and our child, and the other children I want us to have. Be my wife and my love. I need you, Lizzie. I love you.’
Lizzie reached out and touched the dark head, her love for him filling her.
‘There’s nothing I wouldn’t give up to have your love, Lizzie, not even Villa Manos. You’ve taught me that love matters more than anything else.’
‘You’d give up your inheritance? But it’s a sacred trust.’
‘I won’t sacrifice my love or my children for bricks and mortar.’
Now she believed him. Now she knew that he loved her and the child they were to have.
She was in his arms, and he was kissing her with a fierce need that told her more than words just how he really felt about her.
‘I couldn’t have let you go,’ he told her emotionally. ‘My life is nothing without you to share it with me, Lizzie.’
‘Nor mine without you,’ Lizzie whispered back to him lovingly.
‘Don’t look at me like that,’ Ilios begged her. ‘Not until we get home and I can show you how very much I want you.’
‘Home. What a lovely word that is,’ Lizzie told him. ‘You are our home, Ilios—mine and our baby’s. Nothing else and no one else matters.’
The look of devotion and love on his face was everything her loving heart had longed to see there—and more.