Uncertainly Sylvie looked at him.
‘But you’re a man,’ she protested. ‘There was always someone...one of your sophisticated women-friends...’
‘Friends, yes,’ Ran agreed, ‘but lovers, no. Oh, I had some meaningless encounters in the early days, but I’ve not slept with anyone for a long time. It isn’t so very much different for a man, Sylvie, not when he loves a woman the way I love you. Perhaps that was part of the reason why... Will it be a boy or a girl, do you think?’
‘I don’t know,’ Sylvie answered. ‘What I do know, though, is that he or she will be a creation of our love.’
‘We shall have to marry quickly and quietly,’ Ran told her. ‘Your mother won’t like that...’
‘I’d like to be married at Otel Place,’ Sylvie said softly. ‘Where we first met. I do like this room, Ran,’ she added dreamily. ‘It’s very you.’
‘Do you? I’m very glad to hear that since from now on you’re going to be seeing an awful lot of it,’ Ran told her mock-solemnly before drawing her down against him and cupping her face so that he could kiss her.
* * *
They were married five weeks later at Otel Place with just their immediate family in attendance and, of course, Lloyd, whom Sylvie had especially wanted to be there.
Alex gave her away whilst her mother, who had been overjoyed to discover that she was to marry Ran, sobbed into her handkerchief. Alex and Mollie’s child was their only attendant, carrying the ring with solemn determination on a velvet cushion embroidered with Ran’s family’s arms. Sylvie’s dress was cream and gold.
‘White has never suited me,’ she had told Mollie, adding, tongue-in-cheek, ‘Besides, it wouldn’t be appropriate.’
‘I should hope not,’ Mollie had agreed. ‘After the years you and Ran have been apart, I’m surprised he let you out of bed long enough to get married,’ she’d added forthrightly.
Sylvie had laughed and then asked demurely, ‘What makes you think that he’s the one keeping me in bed? I love him so much, Mollie,’ she’d added seriously, ‘and it’s all thanks to you that we’re together.’
‘Well, don’t try to repay me by naming this after me,’ Mollie had warned her as she’d gently patted Sylvie’s still flat stomach.
Sylvie had stared at her.
‘You know? But how...? I...’
‘I saw the colour you turned at breakfast the other morning,’ Mollie had told her wryly. ‘And besides... Well, let’s just say that Ran has that certain look about him. He loves you so much, Sylvie.’
Involuntarily Sylvie’s glance now went to her new husband, her heart starting to thud heavily. Much as she loved her family, right now the only person she wanted was Ran. Quietly she made her way towards where he was talking with Alex, linking her arm through his as she suggested softly, ‘Let’s go home, Ran...’
* * *
‘I really think that Haverton is my favourite of all our buildings,’ Lloyd confessed to Sylvie as they both stood together in the ante-chamber to the small family chapel where Sylvie and Ran’s baby son and Lloyd’s godson had just been christened.
‘You say that about every one of them,’ Sylvie teased, but Lloyd shook his head.
‘No, Haverton is special,’ he insisted. ‘You’ve done a fine job here, Sylvie. Are you sure I can’t tempt you to come back to work for me? There’s a palace I’ve seen in Spain...’
‘No.’ Laughing, Sylvie shook her head. ‘I have another project to occupy me now,’ she reminded him, looking lovingly towards her son, who was being cradled by his father.
The work on Haverton had been finished just in time for Rory’s christening. The official opening of the house to the public was scheduled for the end of the month.
Ran hadn’t put any pressure on her to make her project on Haverton the last one. She wanted to be with Rory and, of course, with Ran. Maybe in years to come she might pick up her career again, although she doubted it. She was the Trust’s official caretaker for Haverton, and looking after the house and its grounds was going to prove more than stimulating enough.
Already, even before the house officially opened, she had bookings for a string of weddings, carrying right through the coming year, never mind the conferences and private parties who had expressed interest in hiring the house. It was extremely satisfying to know that simply on the interest that had already been shown in the house her costings indicated that it would earn enough to pay for its own upkeep.
‘Even if you had managed to run away from me,’ Ran had told her only the previous night, ‘sooner or later I would have seen Rory, and once I had I would have known that he was mine and then...’