‘I think so, too. In fact, I don’t believe I would send my child away to board. There is no harm in breaking with tradition for a new generation.’
The following morning they visited a charming gynaecologist, whose name had been recommended to Leandro. Molly had a scan there and then at the private clinic and was amused and touched by Leandro’s fascination with their unborn son and the keen questions he asked. It occurred to her that her fear of being snubbed had ensured that she made no attempt to share any aspect of her pregnancy with him. She was warmed by the concern he couldn’t hide when the doctor advised that their child be delivered by Caesarean section because the baby was big and she was small.
‘Are you sure babies like bright colours that much?’ Leandro studied the vibrant cot quilt and blinked quite deliberately.
‘According to all the research…yes,’ Molly declared.
‘Colour is not my thing, mi corazón,’ Leandro admitted evenly as they walked back towards the car in the enveloping warmth of late afternoon. He ushered her into a seat in the shade at a pavement café. ‘Sit down. You’re tired.’
Molly gave him a sleepy smile. If truth be known, she was tired of being pregnant, weary of hauling a larger, heavier body everywhere she went and sick of being clumsy and prone to tripping over her own feet. Yet a glorious sense of contentment washed over her as Leandro hailed the waiter and in fluent Italian ordered her favourite ice cream, a glass of wine for him and a long cold drink for her. They had sat on that particular terrace enjoying the view of the vineyards in the valley below many times, for the picturesque little hill town lay within a short drive of the house.
Their four-week sojourn in Tuscany had taught Molly that she could always relax when Leandro was around. He was great at looking after her and amazingly good at foreseeing her every need. She noticed a couple of women watching him with appreciation from a nearby table. They fancied the socks off him just as she did. She was always worrying that she betrayed her love when she looked at him. She worked hard at keeping things light and cool. He had been so upfront right from the start when he had admitted that he couldn’t give her love. She was determined not to make him uncomfortable and risk destroying what they did have, purely because she couldn’t settle for what she had got.
And she had settled for what she had with him; it was official. Last night she had put her rings back on and she had noticed that every so often he rested his attention on her hand, as if he liked to see them there on her finger.
Over the past month she had gradually let go of all her fears and allowed herself to be content. The shadow of Aloise had evaporated and Molly no longer tormented herself with futile comparisons. Even if Aloise had been the love of Leandro’s life, their marriage had not worked out and Molly could no longer feel unequal or envious. She was still curious, still planning on telling Leandro about the contraceptive pills she had found, but she was too happy to want to risk spoiling the ambience they had achieved.
They had had a wonderful honeymoon six months after their wedding. She had strolled along the city ramparts at Lucca, wandered through the medieval streets of Florence and Siena, occasionally pausing to explore ancient buildings and admire spectacular art at a leisurely pace. A hundred special memories had ensured she would never forget their time at Casa Limone. The scent of new-mown grass would forever remind her of making love in the lemon orchard beside the house and lying drowsing in the languorous aftermath in Leandro’s arms until it was almost dinner time. In the same way the taste of glorious chocolate would always remind her of being pregnant. She lusted after that wonderful taste-bud-melting flavour almost as much and as continuously as she lusted after Leandro, who didn’t know what a full night’s uninterrupted sleep was. He had confessed that he felt badly misled by the book he had read that suggested that a woman’s interest in sex would wane as her pregnancy advanced.
Propping her chin on the heel of her hand, Molly surveyed her vibrantly handsome husband with dreamy appreciation. He was gorgeous and she felt that wanting to touch him pretty frequently was normal because sometimes she just couldn’t believe her good luck in having him and needed to satisfy herself that he really was hers in every way that mattered.
‘Are you thinking about our flight back to Spain tomorrow? Your family will be staying with us this weekend,’ Leandro reminded her.
Molly smiled, recognising his concern that she might be less than eager to return to the castillo, but that wasn’t the case. On the contrary, she was looking forward to the prospect. She was confident that everything would be different this time around. After all, Doña Maria was no longer in residence and Molly’s marital home would finally be her own. To give him his due, Leandro had been appalled when he had realised that Molly had been prevented from having any input into the household arrangements and his mother had lied when she had announced that that had been his idea.