He grinned as he poured shower gel into his palm and started to lather himself. Maybe he was guilty of putting the cart before the horse, but it looked very much as though he and Bella might be riding off into the sunset. Together!

* * *

Bella washed the dishes and put them away in the cupboard. Mac kept the boat immaculately tidy and she didn’t want to leave everywhere in a mess. After all, she would hate to think that he considered her to be a nuisance...

She sat down abruptly on the couch as all the strength suddenly seeped from her limbs. From what Mac had said before, there seemed little danger of that! He had told her that he loved her, but could it be true?

A tremor ran through her as she recalled the expression on his face as he had made the admission. He was either a brilliant actor or he had been telling her the truth and all of a sudden she knew which she wanted it to be. She wanted Mac to be a permanent part of her future!

Her breath caught as her mind raced away with the idea. Being with Mac, day in and day out, would be like a dream come true. He would always be there for her, always support her, always put her first. His loyalty and steadfastness were qualities she had admired ever since they had first met. Even though she had been a little wary of him initially because of the differences in their backgrounds, she had always known that he would be there for her. That was why it had hurt so much when he had blamed her for the failure of her marriage. She had expected him to understand why she’d had to end it and the fact that he hadn’t done so had knocked her for six. Did he now accept that she wasn’t at fault? she wondered suddenly. She hoped so. If they were to have that glorious future she longed for then they had to trust one another completely.

It was a tiny doubt, like a black mark on an otherwise bright and shiny canvas. Bella knew that she needed to talk to him about it before they went any further. She made a fresh pot of coffee while she waited for him to finish showering, feeling her nervousness increasing by the second. If Mac didn’t believe in her innocence then this could be the beginning and the end for them.

‘Mmm, coffee.’ Mac came into the cabin. He grinned as he came over and caught her around the waist. ‘Not only beautiful and sexy, but you can read my mind as well. It’s no wonder that I love you, Bella English.’

He kissed her lingeringly, his lips teasing hers until Bella’s head reeled. She kissed him back, feeling the tiny niggling doubt disappear. Mac wouldn’t feel this way unless he believed in her. And it was the most marvellous feeling in the world to know that his love for her was everything he professed it to be. When he raised his head, she knew that this was the moment she should tell him how she felt too. She loved him and now that all her doubts had been erased, she wanted to make that clear.

‘Mac, I...’ She got no further when at that precise moment his phone rang. Mac groaned as he glanced over at where it lay on the table.

‘Typical! Why do the wretched things always ring at the most inconvenient times?’ Reaching over, he picked it up and she saw his expression change as he glanced at the screen.

‘Hello, Tim,’ he said flatly. He paused while he listened to what the other man was saying. ‘Yes, I found her and she’s fine... Of course. She’s right here.’

Bella’s heart bumped painfully against her ribs as he handed her his phone. She wasn’t sure why Mac looked so distant all of a sudden. Surely he didn’t think that she was eager to speak to her ex after what had just happened between them?

She was curt almost to the point of rudeness as she told Tim that she had taken a wrong turning on her way back from the supermarket and that was why she had gone missing. She didn’t add anything about Freya and what else had happened because she wanted to end the call as quickly as possible.

She glanced at Mac, who had gone to stand by the sink, and felt her heart start racing when she saw how grim he looked. Mac obviously believed that she was pleased to hear from Tim, but nothing could be further from the truth. That part of her life was over and there was no chance of her and Tim getting back together. She realised that she needed to make that clear to Tim, so when he asked if they could meet up, she agreed. She couldn’t move forward until she had drawn a line under the past.

‘Tim was just calling to check that I was all right,’ she said quietly as she ended the call. Mac didn’t say anything and she hurried on, wanting to make the situation clear to him as well. ‘He wants to see me and I’ve agreed.’

‘So I heard.’ Mac’s expression held a contempt that chilled her to the core. ‘Maybe I should congratulate you. It appears that you two have resolved your differences at last. I hope you will be very happy together.’

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