The Unexpected Husband(70)

By: Lindsay Armstrong

• loss had produced claimed her. Tears welled, but she said simply, ‘Nothing’s bothering me—I was moved be yond words, that’s all.’

‘So it also had the stamp of authenticity?’ he said into her hair, gathering her close. ‘Don’t cry—I could kill myself for being such a fool.’

‘I’m not really crying. Well...’ She paused. ‘I felt like it so often, but never did—perhaps I need to get it out of my system.’

‘Do you remember,’ he said softly, ‘taking issue with me over the way I eat my chips?’

‘I.. .yes.’ She started to smile. ‘But what’s this leading up to, Joe?’

‘Two things—are you sure you really want to take on such an uncivilised idiot?’

‘I...what’s the other one?’

‘Before we get on to that, I’m just trying to point out some of my deficiencies.’ He stopped as she moved, then quietened in his arms.

‘For example,’ he went on gravely, ‘how many men do you know who’ve taken you for an early-morning swim in a freezing, crocodile-infested pool?’

She dissolved into laughter.

He kissed her gently. ‘That’s what I was really trying to do, make you laugh. It’s one of things I missed so dreadfully, not having you to laugh with.’

She sighed, but because of the sheer warmth that flooded her. ‘Now,’ she murmured, ‘whilst your love making left me feeling exalted, uplifted and wrecked—’ her lips quivered ‘—that makes me believe you do love me, Joe. I don’t know why, but it really does. How do you feel?’ she asked.

He lifted the sheet aside and stared down at her body, then buried his head between her breasts for a long mo ment. ‘Luckier than I deserve to be,’ he said at last, with an effort. ‘And not only that but locked physically and mentally to a lover who will very soon be a wife—and, for the first time in my life, no longer standing on the outside.’

‘Oh, Joe.’ She smiled at him gloriously and smoothed his hair down. ‘Thank you for that.’