‘From what I can recall, there’s no danger of you getting fat.’

He smiled into her eyes and Bella felt a wave of heat flow through her when she realised that he was remembering how she had looked when they had made love. She bit her lip as she was suddenly assailed by the memory of his powerful body. The strange thing was that she had never been aroused by a man’s physical appearance in the past. Even as a teenager she hadn’t done what most teenage girls did and stuck posters on her wall of the latest male heart-throb. Looks hadn’t aroused her and yet the memory of Mac’s body, so lean and yet so powerful, made her tremble. Picking up her cup, she buried her face in it, praying that he wouldn’t guess what she was thinking. Lusting after him definitely wasn’t something a woman of her age should be doing!


‘Bella?’ His voice was so bone-meltingly gentle that she reacted as though he had actually touched her. Her hand was trembling as she placed the cup on the table and she saw him look at her in concern. Leaning forward, he covered her hand with his. ‘You’re not upset about what we did, are you, sweetheart?’

‘No.’ She shook her head to emphasise that she meant what she said. She didn’t regret making love with him again, although she couldn’t help wondering what was going to happen from here on. Would Mac expect them to be friends who occasionally slept together from now on? She hoped not, even though she wasn’t sure exactly what she did want them to be.

‘Then what’s wrong?’ He squeezed her fingers. ‘Tell me. I want to know if there’s something worrying you.’

‘There isn’t. I’m fine.’

She smiled brightly back at him, not wanting to admit her fears when she felt so ambivalent. Did she want Mac in her life for ever and ever or simply for the foreseeable future? Oh, she loved him—she was sure about that. But for ever was a long time and she had no idea if it was expecting too much to aim for that.

All of a sudden the situation seemed way too complicated. Bella pushed back her chair and started gathering up their plates. She needed time to think, time to work out what she really wanted... Her breath caught as she turned to carry the plates to the sink and saw Mac watching her. She wanted Mac. But did she have the right to want him when she wasn’t sure if she could fulfil his needs?

‘I think I’ll have a shower.’ Mac stood up. Picking up their cups, he brought them over to the sink. He put them down on the counter then bent and dropped a kiss on the nape of her neck. Bella shuddered when she felt his lips brush against her skin. It was hard to be sensible and act responsibly when she felt this way!

‘Bella.’

Her name on his lips was like a caress. When he turned her into his arms, she didn’t hesitate. Maybe she didn’t know what was going to happen in the future but she did know what she wanted to happen right now. Lifting her face to his, she kissed him back, her mouth clinging to his as she sought reassurance. Surely this desire they felt for one another could be seen as a good omen?

* * *

They made love once again and once again it was unlike anything Mac had experienced before. The feel of Bella’s satin-smooth skin gliding beneath his fingertips aroused him as nothing had ever done in the past. He could only marvel at how different it was to make love to her. How special. How totally fulfilling. It wasn’t just his senses that were engaged when they made love but his spirit too. It felt as though he had found himself in her arms, discovered the real person beneath the public image. He hadn’t realised to what extent he put up a front between himself and the world, but he did now. With Bella he could be himself. Completely and wholly himself. The thought was so poignant that it washed away the last remnants of fear. Framing her face between his hands, he looked deep into her eyes.

‘I love you, Bella.’ He had to break off at that point because words failed him; only to be expected when it was the first time he had ever uttered them. Not once had he told a woman that he loved her because it wouldn’t have been true, but it was true now. He loved Bella with all his heart and with every atom of his being too.

‘I...’ Bella started to speak and then stopped. Mac could see the shock on her face and understood. It was a momentous occasion for both of them. He laughed softly as he dropped a kiss on the tip of her nose.

‘I know. I feel as stunned as you do, my love. I think we both need a few minutes to get our heads round the idea, don’t you?’

He stood up, feeling tenderness engulf him when he saw the expression on her face, a mixture of shock mingled with a growing excitement. Obviously, his announcement hadn’t come as an unwelcome surprise then, he thought a shade smugly. As he made his way into the bathroom, Mac could feel happiness bubbling up inside him. Telling Bella how he felt had been a huge gamble, but it appeared to have paid off. Clearly, she had feelings for him too, and now all he needed to do was to persuade her to admit that she loved him back and they could look towards the future.

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