Hidden in the Sheikh's Harem: Christmas at the Castello(76)

By: Michelle Conder


‘We will do just fine on our own.’ Dara laughed as Leo swept her into his arms. ‘He’s just one little boy—how much work could he be?’

‘I have feeling those are brave last words.’

She felt the excitement and the nerves coursing through him just as they did inside her. Leo pressed his mouth to hers softly, tracing the outline of her lips with own. She twined her fingers in the hair at the nape of his neck and sighed as he deepened the kiss, moulding his hands tightly to her waist. He shaped his body closely against hers, the warmth of him pressing hard against her.

She wanted to remember this moment for ever. Kissing the man she loved, here, in the home they had created, as they waited to welcome their son to his new home for the first time.

Their son.

In just a few moments she would officially be a mother. The realisation hit her like a freight train and she broke off their kiss just as the doorbell rang.

‘Are you ready?’

Leo looked into her eyes, squeezing her hand tightly as they made their way to the entrance of the castello.

He smiled. ‘I can’t wait to see his face once he realises he’s going to live in a real-life castle.’

Dara felt her nerves melt away as she saw the excited expression on Leo’s face. Suddenly she just knew that everything was going to be wonderful from this moment on.

They opened the door to find their social worker helping Luca out of the car. His tiny face was turned up and he was looking at the castello with awe.

Dara ushered Luca inside, welcoming the social worker, who would be staying for the settling-in period. The adoption process had definitely been speeded up by Leo, with the Valente name seeming to cut through some of the red tape, but it was far from over. This weekend was for Luca—to ensure that he was happy to come and live with them at the castello for good. They had a multitude of activities planned and had put the finishing touches to his bedroom.

Over the past weeks they had spent long hours bonding with the young boy, going on day trips and meeting with various officials. It was a gruelling process, but one that was vital. Everyone had to be sure that he was happy to be adopted by them. That was what mattered most.

Luca ran into the hall and barrelled into Leo’s arms. ‘Wow, you really do live in a castle!’

‘I don’t tell lies.’ Leo smiled down at him.

‘Will we be living here all the time?’ he asked Dara in a small voice.

Dara looked at the social worker, aware that her every move was being assessed. ‘If you would like it, this would be our home, yes.’ She turned to Leo, feeling her confidence begin to falter.

‘Are there ghosts in this castle?’ Luca asked suddenly.

‘There used to be.’ Leo looked pointedly at Dara for a moment. ‘But then a brave princess came and chased all the ghosts away.’

Dara felt tiny fingers wrap around her own. She looked down to see that Luca had grabbed on to her hand tightly as they ascended the stairs to show him his new bedroom. Her heart soared at this show of affection.

‘I thought the knight was supposed to save the princess?’ Dara questioned light-heartedly as she gripped her son’s hand.

‘Sometimes the knight is the one who needs to be saved.’

Leo caught her eye and Dara smiled to herself.

They had saved one another. Two broken souls who had somehow managed to make each other whole again. After all they had overcome in both their pasts, she was certain that the future could only be bright.