Marley slipped out of bed and pulled on her robe to cover her na**dness. Chrysander was still firmly asleep, his arm stretched out as though reaching for her.He’d made love to her throughout the night, the two of them falling into an exhausted sleep just before dawn. Her body still tingled from his touch, his lips, his gentle caresses. As she stared at him, she knew that she couldn’t hold off any longer. She couldn’t torture them both. Her uncertainty was gone. Her fears would follow in time.
She padded down the stairs, smiling ruefully at the thought of how Chrysander would fuss that she hadn’t waited for him. After a stop in the kitchen, where she nibbled at a bagel and drank a glass of juice, she ventured into the living room to enjoy the view of the ocean.
It was there that Chrysander found her. He slid his arms around her, cupping her belly with his hands as he kissed the curve of her neck.
“You’re up early, agape mou.”
“I was thinking,” she murmured. She swiveled in his arms and met his worried gaze.
They both stared for a long moment, and then finally Chrysander said in a hoarse voice, “Do I ever have a chance of you loving me, Marley? Have I ruined that chance forever?”
Her gaze softened, and her heart turned over again with the love that swelled within her. Love and forgiveness.
“I already do,” she said softly.
Surprise flickered across his face, and then doubt crept in.
“I’ve always loved you, Chrysander. From the moment I met you there has never been another man for me. There never will be.”
“You love me?” he said in wonder, hope flaring in his eyes.
“I couldn’t tell you before,” she explained. “Not in New York when things were so messed up. You wouldn’t have believed it if I had said it on the heels of your declaration. I wanted to return here, where we were happy. I wanted our life to begin here.”
He gathered her in his arms and held her against his trembling body. His voice shook with emotion as he murmured to her in Greek. He switched back and forth between Greek and English as he told her how much he loved her and how sorry he was for the pain he’d caused her.
Then he swept her in his arms and carried her up the stairs and back to their bed, where he made sweet, passionate love to her again. Later he tucked her against his body and stroked a hand through her hair.
“I love you so much, yineka mou. I don’t deserve your love, but I am so very grateful for it. I’ll spend the rest of my life cherishing it, I swear.”
She hugged him to her. “I love you, too, Chrysander. So much. We’ll be so happy together. I’ll make you happy.”
And she did.
I ronically enough, Marley discovered she was in labor halfway down the stairs. Alone. She gripped the banister and doubled over as a contraction rippled across her abdomen. Wasn’t labor supposed to start out slow?
She wanted to laugh at the fact that fate was obviously cursing her for trying to sneak down the stairs without Chrysander knowing. While he’d relented about her taking the stairs in the earlier stages of her pregnancy, now that she was so close to her due date he’d once again insisted she not walk the stairs alone. He’d go insane now that she was nine months pregnant and, if the pain ripping out her insides was any clue, about to deliver.She stood on the step, holding on to the railing and taking deep breaths. She’d have called out if she weren’t so busy sucking air through her nose. Besides, Chrysander was busy with endless calls as he and Theron worked out Theron’s relocation to the New York offices. Theron was taking over operations there so Chrysander could remain in Europe. They had been tied up for hours discussing security measures since her kidnappers were still at large.
When she heard footsteps above her, she straightened and tried her best to look as though nothing was wrong. She glanced guiltily up to see Chrysander standing at the top of the stairs, a disapproving expression marring his face.
He started down, grumbling in Greek all the way. “What am I to do with you, agape mou?” he asked when he got close.
“Take me to the hospital?” she asked weakly. She doubled over again as another contraction hit.
“Marley! Pedhaki mou, are you in labor?” He didn’t even wait for a response, not that he needed one. He scooped her into his arms and hurtled down the stairs, shouting for the helicopter pilot, who had remained on the island for the last two weeks for just such an event.
“Do not worry, my darling,” he said in uncharacteristic English. “We’ll have you to the hospital in no time.”
“Darling?” She laughed and then ended it in a moan. “It hurts, Chrysander.”
He paled as he climbed into the helicopter with her.
“You aren’t allowed to use English endearments,” she panted. “Greek sounds so much sexier.”
“Pedhaki mou, yineka mou, agape mou,” he whispered in her ear. My little one, my woman, my love.
“Much better,” she sighed. She smiled then winced again as they lifted into the air. Chrysander was a basket case the entire way to the hospital. The pilot set down on the roof, and a medical team was waiting to usher her inside.
A mere hour later, with Chrysander hovering and holding her hand, Dimitri Anetakis squirmed his way into the world to the delight of his father and mother.
“He is beautiful, agape mou,” Chrysander murmured as he leaned in close to mother and child. Dimitri was nursing contentedly at Marley’s breast, and Chrysander watched in fascination.
“He’s perfect,” she said in wonder. “Oh, Chrysander, everything’s so perfect.”
He kissed her tenderly, his love for her overflowing his heart. “S’agapo, yineka mou.”
She cupped his face and smiled up at him. “S’agapo, Chrysander. Always.”