“Have I ever lied to you?”
“No, but you said—”
“I would have begged you to stay.”
“I’m pregnant with your child.”
“A wonderful bonus to be sure, but you are the prize, Piper Nikos. I thought my emotions had been encased in stone, but your joy in life, your inner and outer beauty, your love, they are the diamond drill bits needed to break through.”
Tears slid hotly down her cheeks, but she did not rub them away. “You’re getting poetic.”
“Neo says that happens when you fall in love.”
“I can’t imagine it with him.”
“You don’t need to. I am the only Greek tycoon you need to be concerned with. Ever.”
She wanted to laugh, but her throat was too thick with her joyful tears. “You’re certainly the only man, Greek or otherwise, that I love.”
“And you are the only woman I love, have ever loved or ever will love with all my heart.” He kissed her, sealing the words between them like a vow.
When the kiss ended, he held her close, his hands caressing her like he was giving himself proof that she really was there. “I am sorry it took me so long to realize what I felt for you was love. I do not know how long it might have taken if I had not overheard your parents trying to talk you out of being with me.”
“You mean that conversation actually had something positive come from it?”
“If you consider me realizing I would beg you to stay if I had to and then subsequently coming to terms with what that willingness meant, then yes.”
“I guess I can forgive them completely now.”
He laughed and so did she.
“I can’t wait to tell them you love me.”
“I want to do it.”
“Okay.” She kissed him softly. “But tell me again, first.”
And he did. Over and over, until every tiny shadow in her heart was filled with the light of their love.
Zephyr stood at the front of the church, Neo at his side, just as he had been for every life-altering moment since they met in the orphanage in Athens.
“Nervous?” Neo asked.
“Not at all. My love will walk down the aisle in just the right time.”
“Did you say your love?”
“I knew you’d get your head out of your ass.”
Their quiet laughter faded as the organ music heralded his bride’s entrance into the sanctuary. Her mother stood and the rest of the guests—their combined families—followed suit. He knew they watched her trek up the aisle like he did, but he could not tear his gaze away from Piper for confirmation.
Her blond hair was piled on top her head in a complicated pile of curls he could not wait to muss. She wasn’t wearing a veil this time, just a tiara and a radiant, glorious smile for everyone in the church to see. Her sleeveless gown whispered as one layer of taffeta moved against the other while she walked down the aisle alone.
He had not known that was her plan, but he felt the rightness of it. She offered herself to him, heart, body and soul.
The shimmering beadwork and gathered skirt with the long train on her dress was worthy of a modern-day royal.
“She looks like a princess,” Neo observed, reflecting Zephyr’s thoughts with satisfaction.
Just as Zephyr had felt contentment at Cass’s beauty on his brother-by-choice’s behalf.
“She is the queen of my heart.”
“And you are the king of hers.”
“Superman. She thinks I’m a superhero.”
Neo laughed, but Zephyr ignored the quiet chuckles as Piper stopped in front of him.
He put his hand out. She took it and they turned to face the priest for a blessing on the marriage that bound the love that had made both their lives complete.
PIPER sat on a lounger on the balcony off the master bedroom of the island villa, holding her week-old baby son. He slept in the crook of her arm, oblivious to the heated discussion between his daddy and uncle about whether an American or Greek university would be the best choice for his education.
“Won’t they be flabbergasted if little Erastos turns out to be an artist and wants to study at the Sorbonne?” Cass asked with laughter.
“Flabbergasted maybe, but not disappointed. Zephyr will be proud of his son, no matter what path he chooses to follow.”
“And Neo? Do you think he will be proud of his child, even if he or she wants to do something flighty like play the piano or something?” Cass asked meaningfully.
“You’re pregnant?” Piper demanded with joy.
The other woman had been trying since she and Neo had married, but up to now, the couple had no success. They’d been discussing visiting a fertility specialist.