‘You are beautiful,’ he said softly. ‘I love you, Ana. And I want to marry you.’
‘No, you be honest, Seb.’ Her voice broke. ‘You don’t want to be married. You don’t believe in it. I saw how stressed your dad’s wedding made you. The minute you found out about it on Mnemba you shut down.’
He stepped closer, the faintest of smiles bursting through his pallor. ‘It wasn’t the wedding that bothered me. It was the timing of it. It meant we had to leave the island and I wasn’t ready to end things with you. Then that morning on Phil’s sofa you were right, I didn’t want to go. But that was because I wanted to stay with you. To be with you. But I thought you were happy with it being over. Or, heaven forbid, you were content with being friends with me, your exlover. So, yeah, I was angry.’ He lifted a hand. ‘And then I saw you checking me out when I went to iron my shirt. And I knew I was back in with a chance.’
The faintest of smiles stretched her lips then. And he saw. Took that first step towards her.
‘What do I have to do, Ana? What is it going to take for you to believe that I love you?’
She couldn’t speak, couldn’t move, as for the second time that day he walked nearer and nearer.
‘You listen to me, Ana. And you learn to believe what I say. I love you. You deserve to be loved. You deserve everything. And we’re going to do it. We’re going to be everything and have everything together. Piece of paper or not, I am never leaving you. Do you understand?’
‘Then…’ She tried to speak but she stumbled over the words. ‘Then maybe…’ She started to sob. ‘Let’s not tear up that paper. Let’s just keep it.’
His arms went tight around her. ‘OK. OK. Oh, thank God.’
Her face was jammed hard into his chest, but she didn’t care. She could feel him shaking. Feel the kisses he was planting on her hair as he clutched her even closer.
‘I’m sorry,’ he muttered. ‘I’m so sorry.’
‘You don’t need to divorce me to make it right, Seb. Just stay with me. Please stay with me. I love you.’
He loosened his arms enough for her to lift her face to his. They kissed. Hard yet soft, full of passion, pressure and need. Until he broke away with a groan.
She gazed at him. Despair still shadowed his eyes. Her heart wrenched.
‘Am I enough for you, Ana? Am I always going to be enough for you?’
‘What do you mean?’ He was everything to her.
‘You wanted our baby, didn’t you?’
‘I’ve never wanted kids, Ana. Made that decision years ago and never thought about it again until the day you told me you’d lost ours. For years I watched my mother suffer. She wanted more children but it didn’t happen. Secondary infertility—no reason they could give, no remedy. It tore marriage after marriage apart. I don’t want that to happen to us.’
‘Seb, the person I want is you.’
He shook his head. ‘But will I be enough, Ana? Won’t there come a time when you want a family? You wanted our baby—losing it nearly destroyed you. So what if it doesn’t happen for us?’
She pushed him away just a fraction. ‘I’ve never thought of myself having a family either. It isn’t something I’ve had the best experience with—’
‘I know,’ he interrupted. ‘But isn’t there a part of you that wants to create the kind of family you missed out on?’
‘OK,’ she whispered, scared he read her so well. ‘But that doesn’t have to be with my own children.’ She looked into his eyes. ‘You and I both know there are enough kids out there needing some kind of loving home. We could adopt or foster. I want to do something like that anyway. I want to make some kid’s life better—give him or her what I missed out on.’
‘Are you sure?’
‘Of course.’ Her heart burst with that need.
‘Then that’s what we’ll do.’ He cupped her face with his hands. ‘I long to see you pregnant with my child, and I hope it happens. But no matter what, we have each other and we will make our own kind of family. Deal?’
They kissed again, colliding with such force and speed they had to break apart, coming together closer, more gently, as laughter and tears mixed.
‘Now,’ he breathed when he finally lifted his head. ‘Are you sure about not wanting the rock?’
She shook her head, very slowly, just the tiniest bit. Because he was reaching into his pocket and she knew there was such a thing as paradise on earth.