They’d meant to be together ten years ago—shame on him and Rose for making their grandchildren casualties in their stupid, long-held feud—and they were meant to be together now.
“My Alex is ‘more stubborn-hard than hammered iron.’”
Rose pulled back and smiled her appreciation. “Shakespeare, Gus Slade? I’m impressed.”
Gus felt his ears heat at her admiration and then shrugged it off. They had more important things to worry about. “So, about these darned kids...”
He refused to allow them to repeat his and Rose’s foolishness and waste so much time. They had to reunite Alex and Daniel and, after showing his wife exactly how much he loved and wanted her, he’d spent a good part of the night working out how to do just that. “I have a plan, but it might involve a sacrifice on our part.”
“Okay. How big a sacrifice?”
Oh man, she wasn’t going to like this. “Our honeymoon. I’m sorry, sweetheart. I want to spend some time with you alone and I know you want that, too—”
Rose stepped away from him, pulled a chair from the dining table, sat down and crossed her legs. She didn’t look mad but, since they’d been married for less than a minute, what did he know? “Gus Slade, I have waited fifty-two years to be your wife and I don’t care about going away for our honeymoon.” A soft radiant smile lit up her lovely face. How could she possibly be more beautiful today than she was half a century ago? Yet she was. “Being with you—whether it’s here in Royal or at Galloway Cove or on the damned moon—is where I want to be.”
“Such language, darlin’.” Gus tsk-tsked.
Rose rolled her eyes. “I’m not a fragile flower, Gus. Neither am I sixteen anymore. And I can swear if I damn well want to.”
Gus hid his smile with his hand. But before he could investigate this saucy new side of his wife—man, that word just slayed him, every single time—he saw the speculation in her eyes.
“Tell me what you have in mind, and I’ll gladly sacrifice our week on Matt’s island to get those two to see daylight.”
Gus outlined his plan and watched as Rose stared out the window at the east paddock, where his old paint horse, Jezebel, was keeping company with his prized Arabians and Daisy, the airheaded goat.
“Do you think it can work?” Rose asked him, worry in her eyes. She no longer wore her mask of aloofness and he was clearly able to read her concern for both Daniel and Alex. He could see her deep desire to see them happy. Rose didn’t wear her heart on her sleeve, but that didn’t mean she didn’t feel things deeply, sometimes too deeply.
Gus sighed. They’d wasted so much time being angry with each other, but he couldn’t regret loving Sarah—they’d had a good marriage. Losing his son so early had been horrible but raising his grandkids had given both him and Sarah a second lease on life.
Rose’s life hadn’t been so easy. Her daddy had been a hard man and Ed, her husband, had been as cuddly as a hornet and had made her life hell. They’d made so many mistakes, but he was damned if he’d watch Alex and Daniel repeat their history. They might argue like crazy but the room crackled with electricity when the two of them were together. They owed it to themselves and their baby to make it work.
“Gus? Will your plan work?”
He shrugged and, needing to touch her, held the back of her neck. “I hope so, honey.”
Rose nodded and leaned her head against his side. “If it doesn’t, we’ll lock them in the barn until they come to their senses.”
Gus laughed, thinking she was joking. When she remained silent, he looked down at her. “You’re joking, right?”
Rose stood up and wound her arms around his waist. “We’re giving them the chance to come to their senses in a nice way. After all, it’s the least we can do after everything we pulled to keep them apart. But if it doesn’t work, we’ll do it the hard way.” He saw her stubborn expression and grinned. His wife was fierce. And he loved her that way.
He loved her, period. Always had.
The first week of February
Alex sat on the leather seat of the private plane Gus hired to fly his bride to Galloway Cove for their honeymoon and wished that she could ask the pilot to close the doors and whisk her away to Matt’s stunning private Caribbean island. She couldn’t think of anything she’d rather do more than stretch out on white sand beneath a blue sky, read a book and just be.