“The baby is healthy. You were lucky. I’d advise making sure she’s more careful around steps. I’m keeping her in for observation, which is protocol. She’ll be home tomorrow.”
Duncan shook the doctor’s hand then went back to see his wife. Gerald and Grace smothered her in kisses giving her a lot of love.
He smiled seeing her face blush at the attention. When the others left for the day he took the seat beside her.
“I’m so stupid,” she said.
“No, you’re not. I’m surprised you can still blush after everything we’ve done together.” Duncan took her hand kissing her fingers. “Why were you running like that?”
“I felt sick. All the emotion and everything—it was too much. I knew I was going to be sick, and I ran up the stairs so I wouldn’t have to clean up any mess.”
Duncan chuckled. “I love you.”
“You really mean that?” she asked.
“How can you doubt it?”
“I love you, too.”
“Yvonne wasn’t lying when she said that about my father’s will,” he said. He knew the sooner he got this out of the way the better they’d be. “When he died I inherited his estate and business. My mission was vengeance against Miranda. I needed to get married and have a baby in order to rightfully claim what was mine.”
“What changed?” she asked.
“You. When I got to know you, it changed who I was. I didn’t want to think about the pain of anything. For as long as I can remember I’ve felt this bitter resentment towards Miranda. Yvonne wasn’t lying. I had an ulterior motive of being in control. When your father stole that money and I saw you, I knew I had to have you no matter what. You weren’t like the women I knew. I thought everyone had a price. Yours was your father’s freedom, but it wasn’t your own price. You wanted something else from me.” He took a moment to lick his lips. It had been years since he’d cried. Staring at her in the hospital bed made him feel out of control.
“I wanted love from you,” she said.
“You asked for far more of me than anyone else. I love you, Tess. With all of my heart and soul.” He kissed her fingers. “My original plan was to keep you as my wife and to force you to fall in love with me. I intended to keep Yvonne as my mistress to satisfy my needs. Everything changed with you. I wanted you.”
“Why aren’t you angry with me?” he asked.
“I love you, Duncan. Okay, I didn’t like you all that much when we first met. I can’t argue with love. You found a way in, and I can’t let you out. So you had a plan, which would leave me with nothing but happiness. Your plan succeeded.”
“You’re a very forgiving woman,” he said.
“I’ve had a lot of time to get over a lot of issues. I spoke to my father, and he finally confessed about my mother.”
“Tell me,” he said. Duncan didn’t want to ruin the moment. Tess forgave him. They were going to be a family. They’d come through so much together, and he was more than happy to give her the world if she asked.
“Her name was Bessie Kemp, and she had no one else in this world. She died giving birth to me. He wanted to lose himself. He loved her, Duncan. She wanted me as a daughter.” The tears poured from her eyes. He didn’t care what the nurses or doctors said. Duncan climbed up on the bed and placed her in his lap.
He stroked her hair feeling her sobs down in his soul. Duncan soothed her as much as possible. He kissed her head and offered words of love and comfort. “There is no one in this world who couldn’t love you, Tess. I’m sure it would break your mother’s heart to hear you think otherwise.”
“She wanted me, Duncan. I always thought she’d gone or something.”
“Did he give you an address to where she’s buried?” he asked. If not, he’d make the bastard pay for causing these tears.
“It’s at home. Please, can I go home? I don’t want to stay here.”
“The doctor said you needed to stay for observation.”
“I want to fall asleep in our bed with your arms wrapped around me. I need you tonight, Duncan. Take me home.”
Duncan couldn’t deny her. He found a doctor and arranged for a nurse to stay at his home to monitor her for the night. Tess stayed in his arms for the rest of the day. The love they felt was growing between them with every passing second.
Duncan sat on the park bench. His son was on his knee as he gazed over to where his wife stared at the gravestone marking her mother’s resting place. It had taken Tess over a year to build up the courage to come to the cemetery. Duncan hadn’t pushed. He didn’t see the need to. His wife was strong. When his son, David, had been born Duncan had felt so afraid and yet so happy to finally have a family of his own.
Tess tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. She wore a thick winter coat over the large clothes she’d worn. David had been a large baby. She spent a great deal of time complaining about her weight while Duncan spent most of his time loving every inch of her body. She’d given him a son, and in return he’d given her more love than he thought was possible.
He saw her lips move as she spoke to the stone. David moaned in hunger. Duncan pulled one of the milk bottles out of the bag. Tess had expressed the milk that morning. He liked playing his part in raising his son. Grace and Gerald helped where they could. They’d become their own little family. After a short time she walked over to him.
“I want you to come with me,” she said.
Duncan followed her, wrapping his arms around her shoulder as he calmed his son. She took him from his arms to feed him the bottle.
“Mom, I’d like to introduce you to Duncan. He’s my husband, and this here is David. My son.”
She turned to him with a sad smile on her lips. “I don’t know if she can hear me. I hope she does. I’d like her to know that I’m happy.”
He pulled her in his arms. “She’ll know you’re happy. No one could doubt it.” He kissed her head looking out at the dark clouds overhead. “We’ll have to come back, Tess. It looks like a storm is brewing.”
They walked back to the car. She sat in the back, and he drove home. Grace and Gerald took David for the rest of the day as he planned a romantic evening for the two of them. He wanted Tess all to himself.
He left her to take a long relaxing bath while he finished up the stew Grace had made. The scents were wonderful. Tess came down the stairs wearing a beautiful red dress. Her tummy was still nicely rounded. He loved her curves and wouldn’t change a thing about her. She was his woman, and he loved her no matter what.
The candles were lit. Her glass was filled with water as they served each other food.
“How are you feeling?” he asked.
“I’m happy. Sad about the lack of a mother but happy. I love you and David. We’ve got a family.”
“There is something I wanted to give you.” Duncan cleared his throat then knelt down before her next to the table.
“Duncan, what are you doing?”
He took her hand. “We never got a real proposal. I forced you to marry me. This is my time to make amends. Tess Willams, I’ve known you for almost two years. I’ve fallen in love with you and the son you’ve given me. There is nothing in the world I wouldn’t give you. I will spend the rest of my life making you happy. Will you do me the honour of becoming my wife?” He opened the box containing a new ring.
“It’s beautiful, but we’re married already, Duncan.”
“Then marry me again. Only this time have the wedding you want. I’ll pay anything. I want you to have a wedding you can look back and enjoy. Our day wasn’t like that,” he said.
“Where were you on our wedding day? I didn’t organise the day, but to me it was perfect. You mean more to me than a day, Duncan. You’re my future. All the days until I die will have you in them. I don’t care about one day out of all the days I’m going to spend with you. I love you.”
She cupped his cheek as she leaned down to kiss his lips.
“I love you, too. When did I get so lucky?” he asked.
She chuckled. “You decided to take a chance on me.”
“You were the best chance I ever took.”
She kissed his lips, her smile warming his whole body.
“Now, make love to me and show me.”
Duncan pulled her into his arms. He didn’t have the willpower to wait until they got upstairs.
Tess was pressed into the wall as he tore at her clothing. They couldn’t keep their hands off each other. The food was forgotten in the search for their passion. Duncan couldn’t believe what he’d gained by seeing this woman in his office all those months before.
What had started out as mere lust had turned into so much more.