Now you will feel no cold,
For each of you will be warmth to the other.
Now there is no more loneliness for you.”
His gaze never wavered from mine, even as they filled with tears, the tears swiftly overflowing, running down his cheeks before the minister had finished the line.
I reached up and softly wiped them away with my hands. It was only fair. He had been quietly drying my tears through the entire ceremony.
“For each of you will be companion to the other.
Now you are two bodies,
But there is only one life before you.”
There were a few more lines in that lovely addition to the vows, but I barely heard them as I watched my bridegroom’s trembling lips form the words, “I love you,” in a hushed whisper.
Vaguely, I heard the famous line about kissing the bride, but I hadn’t even registered the words before James was pulling me against him in a soft, sweet kiss. It was a kiss full of finesse, and held a promise of forever. My own lips answered that promise eagerly.
I gasped and let out an embarrassed little screech as he suddenly lifted me high in the air. He laughed, spinning me.
My hands gripped his shoulders as his eyes laughed into mine.
“We did it, Love,” he told me softly, his voice filled with quiet wonder. “You’re mine, forever, Mrs. Cavendish.”
I shook my head at him as he lowered me slowly back to the ground. His joy was infectious, and I was quickly laughing with him. “You’re insane. I’ve been yours all along, Mr. Cavendish.”
5 YEARS LATER
I awoke to the strangest sensation in my lower regions, which had grown almost numb over the past few weeks.
I patted the hand that was wrapped around my middle. “James,” I gasped.
I felt him tense against me, instantly awake. “Is it time, Bianca?”
I bit my lip, mortified. “I don’t know. Either my water just broke or I wet myself.”
The bastard laughed, and I elbowed him hard. He was up and at my side of the bed, grinning like a loon, between one second and the next. He studied my wet legs and I squeezed my eyes shut tight, as embarrassed as I’d ever been in my life.
“Did my water break?” I asked him.
He continued to study me, his brow furrowed. “I don’t know how to tell. You can’t tell?”
I shrugged, miserable. “It’s all just numb at the moment.” I swallowed, hating to ask. “Will you smell it?”
He wasn’t offended. He never was. He was the most dutiful of husbands for a first time pregnant mess of a woman.
I couldn’t look at him as he tentatively checked.
“No scent. I think we’re having our baby, Love.”
We both knew what to do, and James sprang into action, but I couldn’t seem to move at first, overwhelmed at the thought that the next time we came back here, we would be bringing a baby home with us.
I heard James talking on his phone in the closet. “Stephan. It’s time. You have five minutes to meet us at the car, or else you’ll have to meet us at the hospital.” He paused. “Very sure. Her water broke. We all get to meet our baby today.”
He was back at my side a few moments later, already dressed. I wasn’t much help as he pulled off my nightgown, and slipped a comfortable frock over my head.
“Can you stand?” he asked gently.
I nodded, and stood slowly, feeling ungainly. James helped me, his strong arms keeping me steady until I could stand on my own.
He knelt at my feet, using a wet cloth to clean me, and changing my underwear without a word. He wrapped an arm around my waist, the other firmly holding my arm, as he led me down the stairs, and to the garage.
Clark and Blake were waiting for us beside a large black SUV. We had packed for the hospital months ago, courtesy of Control Freak Cavendish, so I was relieved not to have to worry about it just then.
James made sure I was comfortably ensconced and securely buckled in before he got in himself. My huge belly had made everything difficult lately, and I’d never appreciated his unending solicitude more than I had during the trials of pregnancy.
Clark backed the car out, getting just outside of the colossal garage before stopping, a huge grin on his face as he glanced back at us. “The guys made it,” he told us.
I glanced behind the car, seeing our two favorite neighbors booking it across the property, Stephan leaving Javier in the dust on his way to our car.
James and I shared a happy smile.
Seconds later Stephan was getting into the car, breathless and shooting me concerned looks. He climbed into the row of seats behind us, moving directly behind me so he could kiss the top of my head before he sat.
“How are you? How’s our baby?” he asked me, looking at James.
James couldn’t stop grinning. “Our baby is ready to meet us today.”
I rubbed my belly, trying not to stress out about the ordeal to come. James saw my action, and bent down to kiss my belly, as he had countless times over the last eight and a half months. I stroked a hand over his silky hair.
Javier climbed into the car as James was still paying homage to my big belly. He smiled at the sight. “We won’t be seeing that quite so often after today,” he said.
I patted James on the head. “I’ll miss it,” I said softly.
He shifted so he could meet my eyes, his cheek still pressed softly to my belly. “We can do this as many times as you want, Mrs. Cavendish.”
We were ten minutes from the hospital, and it was a talkative car ride, so the drive went by in a flash, as did my admission into the hospital, expedited by my ungodly rich husband. They had me in a bed in what I figured had to be a record.
Dr. Lisa practically met us there, looking as though she hadn’t been dragged out of bed, though I knew that she had. She smiled at me reassuringly. “You’re going to be a mother today,” she told me, after a short examination.
It was a daunting thought.
Several harrowing hours later, more so for James than for me, I thought, and a little bundle of joy was placed in my arms.
I had been so sure that a child would open up old wounds—just rip apart the things inside of me that had never quite healed. Even after I’d been sure that I did want children, and even during the pregnancy, when I’d felt those first profound stirrings of the perfect love of a mother, I’d felt that doubt. There was no way that I could have known that seeing our son’s perfect face would have the opposite effect. It hadn’t ripped me open. It didn’t aggravate those wounds. Like my love for James, it only healed me. As James always said he had done with me, I fell in love with Duncan Stephan Cavendish at first sight.