First Love, Last Love(58)

By: Carole Mortimer

'You should have brought the Rolls,' she said practically. 'There would have been more room in that. Actually, the simplest thing to do would be to go into the house, we have it all to ourselves.'

'Lauren?' he looked hopeful.

'Mm?' she asked innocently.

'I'm warning you—'

'Ooh, I love it when you come on all strong and domineering!' She gave him a mischievous glance from beneath lowered lashes.

'Will you be serious for five minutes,' Alex snapped tautly. 'I never thought that when I proposed my intended bride would laugh at me!'

'I'm not laughing, Alex. And you haven't proposed.'

'I haven't?' he frowned. 'No, I haven't, have I? And I don't intend to,' he said with the old forcefulness. 'You're going to marry me—and no arguments. I have your parents' permission, and that's all that matters.'

'You've spoken to my mother and father?' Her eyes widened.

'Yes, I've spoken to them, but Laurence knew how I felt the day we met him at the airport. That's why he knew it wasn't true when you accused me of wanting you only for revenge on him.'

'Then he's known more than I have,' Lauri said with remembered pain. 'That day at the airport you were horrible to me. You even said you were going to see Connie Mears.'

'Pure fabrication, as was the woman I told you I'd found. I don't want anyone but you, I haven't since the moment we met. A little self-preservation on my part, I'm afraid. God, you can't imagine the shock I had when I realized you were Laurence's daughter! I think I must have gone mad for a few days. I just wanted to hurt you.'

'That night you took me to your apartment,' she said huskily.

'Yes,' Alex agreed heavily. 'I also realized that night that I had to marry you. When I hurt you so badly I realized just how much I loved you, that by hurting you I was just hurting myself. I followed you back to your home with the intention of asking you to marry me. But Steve interrupted, and after that there never seemed to be a right time. Laurence collapsed, and I was worried that he was going to die before you even knew he was your father.'

She smoothed his brow. 'We've done nothing but hurt each other.'

'But no more. I love you, Lauren. You're the most important thing in the world to me. I just can't live without you. Now tell me you love me, or must I use force?'

Knowing what direction his force would take, she willingly opted for the latter.

'Do you love me?' Alex demanded before he would even kiss her.

'Very much,' she nodded.

'Then tell me!'

'You said you didn't want a ring through your nose,' she reminded him teasingly, 'or a collar and lead around your throat.'

'And you told me you didn't want to get married '

She smiled. 'I lied.'

'Tell me!' he groaned.

'I love you very, very much,' she said huskily. 'And if you don't soon kiss me I think I'll die.'

'You're going to make me a shameless wife,' he chuckled. 'Thank God!'

Lauri raised her eyebrows. 'I haven't said I'll marry you.'

'No,' he claimed her mouth in a savagely arousing kiss. 'But you will.'

And she did…