“I know,” Francesca said. “I saw his expression when he was at the hospital right after James was born and we told him.”

“I’m sorry I couldn’t make it for the birth,” Lin apologized to both of them. “It was a rotten time to be halfway across the world.”


“You’re here now. Thank you for coming,” Francesca said sincerely.

“Kam says you snagged Reardon another valuable contract with Haru Incorporated,” Ian said quietly, sitting on the edge of the bed, stroking Francesca’s blanket-covered thigh and peering down at James. Lin recalled how she’d seen a whole new expression on his face when he’d fallen in love with Francesca, and how she’d felt glad for his happiness after so much loneliness and pain in his life. Here was yet another expression as Ian looked at his son, one of deep love and profound contentment.

Lin nodded. “And just in time, with our first shipment of watches going out in two weeks. We needed the extra capital with a royalty contract. It’s all happened so fast,” she said, referring to the launching of Kam’s business. Their business, since she’d decided to take Kam up on his offer several months ago and become his business partner as well as his romantic one.

“Kam couldn’t have done it without you,” Ian said. “Trust me, I know from experience.”

Lin laughed softly. “You’re doing just fine without me. Don’t make me feel guilty.”

“Don’t you dare feel guilty,” Francesca whispered, giving Ian a repressive glance. He gave his wife a small smile.

“She knows I’m kidding,” Ian rumbled. “I wouldn’t have let her go without a fight to anyone but Kam. She’s still in the family, so I’ll have to settle for that.”

“Kam is so happy,” Francesca told Lin earnestly. “I’ve never seen a man so energized and purposeful about his work—especially since you two have undertaken this huge task of starting a company and all that implies—and yet so at peace with his personal life as well. You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to him.”

“He only scowls in his sleep and at dinner parties these days. I actually saw him smile at a waiter while we were in London last week,” Ian mused.

Lin smiled, warmed by hearing the couple speak of Kam’s happiness. She and Kam had been living together at Aurore Manor for ten weeks now, although both of them were often traveling on business. Lin had to agree with Francesca’s assessment of Kam’s happiness. She shared in it fully, so who knew better than her?

Francesca shifted James in her arms. “Let’s put him down. I’m so tired I can hardly keep my eyes open,” she said, transferring the bundle to Ian. Ian took his son and stood.

“Are you sure you don’t want Melina to put him to sleep in the nursery?” Ian asked quietly, referring, Lin knew, to their newly hired nanny. “You could sleep uninterrupted that way.”

“No, no,” Francesca insisted, shaking her head. “It’s too soon.”

Lin smiled, understanding her. James was only three days old, after all. But if Lin had her guess, it’d be that Francesca had never fully warmed up to the idea of a nanny.

She secured her shoulder bag in preparation to leave. Francesca needed rest, and she was very eager to return to Aurore and Kam.

“You shouldn’t have made a special trip to Belford Hall, Lin. Kam says you two haven’t seen each other for nine days,” Francesca said tiredly.

Lin walked over to the bassinet and got another look at James before she departed. “I wanted to come and see James first. I’m glad I did. He’s amazing, you guys. Besides,” she said, turning to the couple, “this way, Kam and I can settle down at Aurore for the calm before the storm when production begins in two weeks. We have an anniversary tonight.”

“Really? Which one?” Francesca asked.

“Four months.”

“Four months since . . .”

“We first saw each other,” Lin gave a rueful smile. She knew how idiotic these little rituals might seem to a more established couple. “According to Kam, it was all there in that first look, the seeds of everything,” she admitted, feeling her cheeks heating.

“He gets that eloquent with you?” Ian asked, looking pleased and amused at once.

“You have no idea,” Lin assured with a grin.

•   •   •

Lin drove up the long, wooded drive to Aurore. She’d told Kam she had some errands she wanted to do before returning home, so he reluctantly had agreed not to pick her up at the airport. She’d made good time, though, and was home an hour earlier than she’d told Kam to expect her.

The sun had already set, even though it was only a little after five. After her flight to France, she’d stopped in the village to pick up some needed supplies at the grocer, and then gone to retrieve her prearranged gift for Kam. Even though the woods were barren with winter cold, Aurore Manor looked warm and inviting when she pulled up in the circular drive before the large house. She’d ordered some greenery for Christmas, and it looked cheerful along with a lush wreath on the front door. Golden light spilled from several windows. She saw the compact car owned by Madame Morisot—their new housekeeper—parked behind Kam’s sedan farther down the drive.

Grinning like an idiot, she retrieved her soft little gift, juggling her shoulder bag and the sack of supplies. She’d get her suitcase later. She couldn’t wait to give him his gift, but she mostly burned to see him. It’d been way too long.

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