The Argentinian's Demand(63)

By: Cathy Williams


‘When I decided to break off with Oliver I did it because I knew that I had fallen in love with you, and the thought of getting married because it made sense on a number of practical fronts was just no longer conceivable.’ She draped her hair over one shoulder and fiddled with the ends. ‘The last thing I was after was any money. I’d already resigned myself to just doing the best I could with what I earned and crossing bridges when I came to them. Because I knew that you and I were never going to last. I knew what you wanted was sex—that you were still looking for the dream girl to provide you with the dream life.’

‘Why didn’t you tell me the whole truth when you broke off the engagement with your fiancé?’ It felt okay for him to nurture magnanimous feelings towards the dearly and now departed ex.

‘Because I knew what you’d think. That I had no morals. Who would sacrifice their lives for the sake of money?’

‘Except you weren’t doing that, really, were you?’ Leandro said softly. ‘I would have seen someone willing to sacrifice the happiness she didn’t think she believed in for the sake of the mother she loved very much. I would have seen a woman willing to accept friendship as a basis for marriage because of altruistic reasons. I would have seen the woman I had fallen in love with.’

It was Emily’s turn to stare at him. She wondered whether she had heard right. His expression was soft and intense and open all at the same time, and her mouth went dry because she didn’t want to misread anything.

‘Have I rendered you speechless?’

‘I’m not sure I heard correctly,’ she said faintly.

‘Then I’ll repeat it, because one good confession deserves another, don’t you think? I love you. I love you and I didn’t even realise it. I wasn’t looking for love and I therefore assumed that it wouldn’t arrive. God, Emily...’ He shook his head and remembered the feelings earlier that had driven him to the bottle. ‘When you left today I thought I was going out of my mind. It felt like a part of me had been ripped out, and even then I managed to convince myself that it was because I hadn’t taken you for a liar, because I was annoyed, disappointed, angry...’

Emily reached across the table and her hands found his. They linked fingers. She felt the energy run between them—familiar, exciting and comforting all at the same time.

‘You’re really telling me that you love me...?’

‘You were cynical and didn’t believe in love. I was fully committed to the idea, but on my terms and within my control and at a time that slotted in to my schedule. I guess it’s fair to say that you weren’t the only one to be taken by surprise...’

He stood up, pulling her to her feet and drawing her into him.

‘I love you, Emily Edison, and I would like to know if you could take me on—for better or for worse...’

‘Are you asking what I think you’re asking?’

‘Depends... I’m asking you to marry me.’

‘You would think that I want your money if I said yes...’

‘I would think that you wouldn’t have a choice but to let me help you, because that’s what people do when they love each other.’

‘I...’

‘Yes or no?’

Emily smiled. She grinned until her jaw began to ache and she squeezed him tightly, barely daring to breathe in case the moment was broken.

‘Yes!’

‘You agree to take me on, for better or for worse.’

‘For better or for worse...’

‘And my worse is that I update that pile of yours so that your mother is happy and comfortable for ever in the place she loves and the place you love too—because I will always love what you love, my darling...’

He drew her apart and brushed some hair away from her forehead.

‘I don’t know what I would have done if you hadn’t shown up here tonight,’ he said quietly. ‘I would have come to find you, but my pride would have made me take my time, and I shudder with fear to think about what you might have done in the interim. Reconsidered your options about marrying the ex...’ He felt sick when he thought about it.

‘Never...’ She stroked his cheek and kissed the side of his mouth, smiling as she felt the shift inside him as his libido kicked in as effortlessly as hers did. ‘You’ve spoiled me for the rest of the opposite sex...’

‘And you’d better keep it that way...’

He held her hand and began leading her out of the kitchen, back up to the bedroom, where he had every intention of sealing their love in bed.

‘And I shall keep reminding you on a daily basis how to do that...beginning, my love, with right now...’