Page 66 of The Secret Father

‘We’re a tactile sort of family, Sam.’ She stroked his cheek to prove the point. ‘It was Adam who got me on the plane here. I wasn’t capable of anything once I got this idea into my head that you needed me. I was like a homing pigeon and you,’ she said, half-shyly, ‘were my home.’

‘And you’re mine,’ he responded fervently. ‘And talk-ing of families… About Ben; it’s something I have to do.’

‘I know that. It’s just if I ever lost you, Sam…’ The impossible horror of the idea darkened her eyes.

‘You won’t,’ he vowed. ‘I promise.’

‘I trust you.’ She knew Sam understood the significance of this statement.

‘I know,’ he replied simply.

EPILOGUE

LINDY watched the boy and man emerge from the water. They shook their heads like two otters and the drops of salt water gleamed in the sun like diamonds.

The boy, a tall, skinny child with legs like a young colt and arresting blue eyes, reached her first. Panting, he peeled off the snorkel and mask and flopped down beside her on the hot sand.

‘It’s terrific,’ he said, rolling onto his stomach. ‘Why don’t you try? He’s not a bad teacher.’

‘I find him a bit bossy,’ Lindy confided. She knew how precious this time together was to Sam. She tried not to be obvious about it, but it was important to give father and son time alone. She had the rest of her life with Sam—why be greedy?

‘I heard that.’

‘You were meant to.’ A warm, intimate smile reached her eyes as Sam lowered his rangy frame down beside her.

‘Cover up, Ben,’ she advised, squinting up at the sun. She passed him a vivid, printed shirt.

‘Yes, Doc,’ he responded with a grin.

‘Bossy, the woman said!’ Sam teased.

‘You too,’ she said sternly. She had already slipped a loose shirt over her bikini. The shade from the palm-leafed parasol dappled Sam’s brown chest and shoulders with a chequered pattern. She wanted to reach out and touch the satiny, oiled smoothness of his skin. Then do it! an inner voice urged her. A smile of fierce exhilaration spread over her features. I can—I’m allowed to! she realised wonderingly. 185

‘You look like the cat that got the cream,’ Sam observed. He gasped as her cool palm touched his midriff.

A gold ring gleamed on her right hand; it was plainer than the sapphire and diamond cluster she now sported on her left hand, but just as precious to her. She’d had the gold cuff-link she’d carried around with her during the wilderness weeks turned into a ring. She intended to wear it always to remind her of how lucky she was.

‘I’d purr if I could.’

‘You can.’ His deep voice held laughter.

Lindy shot him a warning glance and inclined her head towards the boy.

‘If you two are going to start all that mushy stuff, I’m off. I’m going to get one of those ice-cream things with pineapple and chocolate and cream. Do you want one?’

‘No!’ the adults replied in unison. The amount one thirteen-year-old boy could consume had reduced them to silent awe on more than one occasion over the past week.

‘I think that child’s thirteen going on thirty sometimes,’ Sam mused.

Lindy flopped back beside him and watched Ben’s skinny legs retreat up the beach. ‘I wonder where he puts it?’ She placed a hand on her still flat middle. ‘If I ate half as much as him I’d be the size of a house.’

‘A sexy house.’

‘Don’t try and butter me up.’ She wiggled her hips to carve her behind a deeper hollow in the soft sand as Sam placed his hand over her bare belly.

‘It’s hard to imagine this one will ever be that size.’

‘Sometimes it’s hard to imagine this one is really there.’

‘You saw the scan.’

She gave a deep sigh of pleasure. ‘I did.’ It had been one of those precious moments that she’d look back on over the years, a memory she’d polish and keep fresh, and she knew Sam felt the same way.

‘Do you think your parents suspected when we insisted on an early wedding?’ Sam asked curiously.

‘Probably, but they’re far too tactful to say anything. I expect they probably think a man who takes his son on a honeymoon, especially when the honeymoon precedes the wedding, is capable of anything!’

‘This isn’t your honeymoon, woman.’ Sam rolled onto his belly and there was warm promise in his eyes. ‘I’m going to introduce you properly to the other woman in my life on your honeymoon. Don’t worry, I won’t have you climbing the rigging in your present condition—light duties only. Seriously, though, love, you didn’t mind about Ben coming, did you?’

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