Rival Attractions & Innocent Secretary(109)

By: Penny Jordan

‘You can,’ Emma said, her eyes open, staring into the eyes of a man who had made it so very difficult for her to love him. ‘Every night for the rest of your life, you can lie beside me.’

‘You too,’ Luca said, because it was such a nice thing to know, such a nice thing to be told. ‘Always, I am here for you.’

And he would be, Emma knew that. Luca was here, for her, for their baby—and finally, finally she had the family she had always longed for.

‘Come on,’ she whispered. ‘Let’s go and tell Dad.’


‘ONE more push,’ Luca implored—as if it were that easy, as if he knew how it should be done just because he’d read it in a magazine!

‘I can’t!’

It wasn’t pushing that scared her, it was life, because in a moment the future would be here—and although she couldn’t wait to meet it, she was scared she wasn’t up to it.

That, by not having grown up with a mother, she might not be able to be a mother herself.

It wasn’t one more push, it was four, and then this wait, this rush as a bundle of red was on her stomach and Luca was cutting the cord, was over. Ready or not, she was officially a mum, so she had no choice but to be able.

‘A girl!’It was the doctor who spoke because Luca just stood, his face unreadable, watching his wife reach for their daughter, watching eyes peer at a very new, very big world.

He had hoped for a boy—not for the old reasons, not for a son or to continue the family name, which was a bit of a black joke between them. No, Luca had wanted a boy because Emma was so scared of having a girl.

And as he stared at this tiny little lady, so new and so raw and so fragile, he understood her fears—because he had them too. Their daughter was surely the most precious thing in the world and they had to do this right.

‘A girl…’ He picked up his daughter and cradled her close, hushed angry, startled cries and then, when he was sure Emma was ready, he handed her to her mother, and he watched nature unfold, and Emma feed her hungry baby.

Watched his wife become a mother to his daughter.

The midwife tidied up around them then opened the curtains on the beginning of a glorious new day, pinks and oranges and pretty lemons filling the window as if the sky had known it was giving her a girl.

‘What a beautiful morning to become a mum!’ the midwife said, and left the new family to it. Emma wanted to call her back, worried almost that she’d been left with her baby, that she should know what to do. What if she stopped feeding, or what if she suddenly cried?

But she was still feeding, making little snuffly noises as Emma stared down.

Girls were different.

Politically correct or not, scientifically based or whatever, in a hormonal haze Emma knew that they just were.

They needed cuddles and blankets and something else—something Emma had been denied and something she swore her daughter would never be without.

‘If something were to happen to me…’ Seeing her cradling their daughter, hearing the wobble in her voice, it would have been so easy to wave her fears away, but Luca wouldn’t do that to her.

‘There would be Daniela, my mother, Evelyn and her twin girls when they come… She’d be surrounded.’ Luca stared at his daughter. ‘But more than that, she would know about you and know how much I loved you and how much I love her.’

He left no room for doubt.

‘What happened to my playboy?’ she teased.

‘He stopped playing.’

‘What happens now?’ Emma asked, because she had it all, here in this room. Here in her arms she had it all, and she didn’t know quite what to do with it.

‘We name her?’ Luca smiled. ‘Do you want to call her after your mother?’

She had thought about it long and hard and she thought about it again.

‘No,’ Emma admitted, because sometimes it still hurt. ‘Do you want to name her after yours?’

‘No,’ Luca said. He had forgiven Mia, and he was happy to see her with Leo, but, well, it was all too new and too much just yet. He didn’t even know what to do with his own surname, let alone pass on his mother’s first name too!

‘Aurora,’ Emma said.

‘Aurora?’ Luca played with the word in his mind and liked it. ‘It means dawn…’

‘And new beginnings,’ Emma said, gazing from her infant to her husband. They would follow their own course now. This precious clean slate they had been given deserved the very best they could give her, and that’s what she would get.

A new beginning.

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ISBN-13: 978-0-373-23711-1