He pulled into the drive and turned off the motor, staring for a long moment over the sloping hood. "I'm sorry."

"For what?"

He turned his head and met her gaze. "Ignoring you."

"You aren't my happiness guru, Alex."

His lips quirked.

"I've been living alone for a while. And I like my own company."

"So do I."

Together they leaned, and the instant her hands touched his shoulders, grinding away the tightness, Alex moaned.

"Let me make it better, Yankee," she whispered, before her mouth covered his.

Alex responded like a crazed animal, sudden and fiery, cradling her face in his palms and tasting her. Oh, no, I can't lose this, he thought as fresh desire rocketed through him.

"Feeling better?"

"Uh-uh, need some more therapy." He worried her lips, his tongue outlining their lush shape before pushing deeply inside. She purred for him, twisting in the seat to get closer to him, her hands pulling at his shoulders and pulling him down.

"Do these seats go back?"

Alex nearly howled at the image she created. "I don't think Angus would take too kindly to his guests making love in his driveway."

"We could leave, go down to the lake. No one knows we're here yet."

"You tempt me, woman," he said, whispering kisses over her throat, then lower.

"That's the idea." She'd rather be naked with him than watching Angus and Laura renew their vows. It was just lousy timing, but she didn't need the emotions of a wedding giving Alex the wrong idea about her. What she'd said earlier was the truth. He wasn't responsible for her happiness. But right now she was damn happy to be kissing him and held him completely responsible for the pleasure.

Childish giggles came to them, and Alex looked up, scanning the area.

"We're surrounded."

"Do we take cover or fight them off?"

He met her gaze. "Take no prisoners."

She rolled her eyes. "Typical man. I say we go for negotiations." She sat up, giving a mock scowl to the kids before she opened the car door.

"We don't have anything to bargain with, do we?" She reached behind the seat and pulled out a bag, grinning like Santa on Christmas, before leaving the car. Children surrounded her, and she doled out prizes they'd won from the festival, saving the last stuffed rabbit for Shannon.

"Young'uns, gotta love 'em," she said as they scattered like mice.

Alex felt a pinch of guilt as he lifted the brightly wrapped gifts and came around to the side of the car. He recognized the longing in her dark eyes as she watched the children, knew she wanted some of her own. Babies, the mere thought of them, terrified him and though she didn't look the least bit maternal in the curve-hugging raspberry suit, he couldn't help thinking what a wonderful mother she'd make. And that she would be having children with another man. His heart clenched just then, and he turned his attention to the sprawling estate, wanting to get lost somewhere with her, yet knowing his future lay in Angus O'Malley's hands. He had to be here. Sliding his arm around her waist, he walked with her toward the house, dread moving over his spine.

The moment they stepped through the front door of the O'Malleys' lake house, Colleen, Bridgett and Megan ushered Madison off to the upper floor. She looked back over she shoulder at him, shrugging, then going along.

"What's this all about?"

Randy smiled as the women helped his wife up the stairs. "Hell if I know. Weddings are for women, right? Even renewals. But then, you know that already. Men are supposed to arrive clean shaven for the sacrifice." Randy gave his shoulder a commiserating shake. "Don't tell my wife I said that, 'cause marrying her was the best thing that ever happened to me. And she knows it."

Alex gave him a side glance and wished he understood, then knew he was beginning to, slowly.

"Come on, Angus wants to talk to you."

* * *

A tightness formed in Madison's throat at the sight of Laura in her wedding gown. The forty-year-old creation was lacy and demure, and as Madison stood with the other guests as Angus and Laura promised another forty years with each other, she felt a tinge of envy. Her parents would have celebrated their thirtieth this month. To last forty years, she thought, when people married and divorced with such ease, was a remarkable occasion.

She could imagine Angus and Laura years before, a strapping Irishman and his bonny bride. Angus had said he'd owned no more than a box of tools and the clothes on his back. It was how her father had come to her mother. Penniless, with only his love. Her eyes burned suddenly, and she wished she and Alex had met under different circumstances. But the reality was it wouldn't have mattered. She would still love him. She heard the precious vows and realized she would never have this with the man she loved.

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