‘I’ve wanted you so much, Coral. From the moment—’
‘The moment you saw me coming off the jet. I know. You told me.’
He smiled. She was his woman. There was no other for him but her.
‘After you tried to hide your pregnancy I was so angry with you for thinking I wouldn’t look after you.’
‘I would never have done that if you hadn’t thrown me out.’
‘That’s my only regret. It was awful. But when you pulled off that dress and threw it at me I knew I was going to marry you.’
At that, she pulled back. She looked up. Her eyes were sooty and tear-stained, but she glowed like a sunrise in summer.
‘Did you really?’
He pulled her back into the warmth of his embrace and laid his chin on her head.
‘I knew I wanted to chase you down and never let you go.’
‘Never let me go?’ she repeated.
They stood locked together as the minutes ticked by, three becoming one.
‘Do you think they’re all still here?’
‘I think so.’
‘Do you think we should go down and see?’
‘We’re going to have to make this legal some time.’
‘Do you think we’ll hit the headlines?’
‘There’s every chance. There are two news anchors and about a dozen of the world’s top journalists down there.’
‘Maybe we should give them a story.’
‘I think they’ve got all the story they need. You’re the most unconventional, adorable bride in history.’
‘No best man, no bridesmaids, no one giving me away. Just the three of us.’
Coral gazed up into the face of the man she loved.
He tucked a stray lock of hair behind her ear. ‘Your mother did a wonderful job raising you, Coral.’
She bit her lip and he could see she was holding back more tears. She nodded, held herself in check, and when she opened her eyes again the love was shining forth.
‘That was the right thing to say, Raffa. She did. She was a wonderful mother and—’
‘And so will you be, my darling. So will you.’
‘HAVE YOU HEARD the latest rumour?’ Coral asked as she buttered a piece of toast and cut it into quarters. She put it on Matteo’s tray and watched while his chubby fingers closed around a piece.
‘Gossip doesn’t interest me at any time of the day, but I’m particularly not keen to hear it until I’ve had at least three coffees. As you well know, my darling.’
‘Hmm, yes…but this you’ll want to hear.’
Raffaele made a dismissive sound and carried on reading his newspaper.
‘Daddy’s grumpy,’ she said, giving Matteo a huge smile.
‘Daddy gwump!’ Matteo said, beaming back, his cherubic cheeks smeared with butter and crumbs.
‘Stop teaching him bad words,’ said Raffaele. ‘I am not grumpy. I’m just a little more tired than usual this morning.’
Coral laughed, and Matteo laughed with her.
‘Did you make Daddy tired, Matty? Did you play games and run along the beach all day long?’
She reached for her precious bundle and unclipped him from the safety harness in his high chair.
Raffaele put his paper down. ‘Yes, he did. Even the dogs were exhausted.’
Coral clasped Matteo tightly, loving the sensation of the tiny bones in his warm, strong little body. In a second he had a handful of her hair, rolling it round in his sticky little fingers.
‘He loves your hair as much as I do.’
‘Almost!’ She laughed, untangling his fingers. ‘So, what did you get up to yesterday?’
Raffaele stood up, putting his arms out for his boy. Coral slid Matteo across.
‘All the favourites,’ he said. ‘As soon as you were in the air we were on the beach—were we not?’ he said, jiggling Matty in his arms. ‘Sandcastles. Paddling. Then we had a picnic lunch and then we did it all over again.’
‘Get any work done?’
‘Not a thing. When he slept, I did too. How about you? Did the shoot go to plan?’
Coral smiled, sat down and poured herself another cup of tea.
‘It was fabulous, thanks.’ She cradled the cup between her hands and blew away the steam. ‘The location was absolutely perfect. We threw out all the ideas and just shot the Princess riding her horse as the sun came up.’
‘Wasn’t it couture?’
‘Yes. Ball gowns—with a touch of Lady Godiva,’ Coral said, laughing. ‘It was so much fun.’
She put her cup down and looked up at her husband and child. They were both watching her carefully.
‘What is it?’ she said.
‘Only love. That’s all,’ said Raffa. ‘You’ve transformed MacIver, but you still want to get up to your armpits in pictures. It’s lovely. It makes me so happy.’