Wife for a Day(5)

By: Kate Walker


‘Are you happy? Truly happy?’

‘Of course I am.’ Reaction to the unexpected ferocity of his questioning put a small quiver into her voice. ‘Ronan, what is this, the Spanish Inquisition?’

‘I just wanted to be sure.’

‘Sure!’

Ronan’s sudden and uncharacteristic need for reassurance sent a rush of delight and excitement through her, flooding her heart with renewed love for him. The thought that even a man as self-contained and assured as Ronan had proved himself to be could feel insecure where she was concerned spoke of such a depth of emotion that it brought hot tears to her eyes.

‘Oh, Ronan, how could I not be sure? I’ve just married the man I love in front of all my friends. Everyone I know is here…’

‘Except Davey,’ Ronan inserted almost harshly.

‘Except Davey,’ Lily agreed solemnly.

This time the tears that stung so sharply stemmed from a very different source. It would have made her day perfect if her brother could have been there.

‘I wish I’d been able to get in touch with him.’

‘So do I,’ said Ronan, with such feeling that Lily looked up at him in some surprise.

‘I didn’t know it mattered so much to you.’

‘Well, let’s just say that I would have preferred to have met your brother before today.’

His eyes drifted away from her to stare out across the crowded room, but Lily got the distinct impression that he saw nothing of the brightly dressed guests, laughing and chatting in small friendly groups. Slowly he drew a deep, uneven breath, and when he turned back to her his expression had altered in some subtle, indefinable way. And when he spoke again she had the strangest feeling that he was not pursuing the topic that had been uppermost in his thoughts.

‘After all, we’re not exactly well off for family, either of us. We’re two adults of not exactly ancient years, and yet we can’t muster even a single relative between us.’

‘I know…’

It was a sigh of sorrow and regret as her thoughts went to her own parents, killed in a tragic accident when she had been seventeen and Davey six years younger. They would have loved to be here today, to see her as a happy bride, and she had no doubt that they would have approved of this tall, handsome, successful, but above all loving man she had chosen as her husband.

Sadly, Ronan, too, was on his own. When she had asked him which of his relatives she should invite to the wedding, his reply had been short to the point of curtness.

‘No family. There’s no family, but I can give you a list of friends if you like.’

And the number of his friends had gone a long way towards making up for the shortfall on the family side, she reflected. Not only that, but some of them had already created quite a stir in this small northern town, one that would persist long after the wedding celebrations were over. As an extremely wealthy businessman, whose extensive interests amounted to an empire, Ronan had contact with equally rich and well-known people, many of whom were here today.

Not that she had had much of an opportunity to talk to any of them. Ronan had kept her very much at his side so that she hadn’t had much of a chance to get to know any of his guests. She could only hope that they wouldn’t hold it against her later.

A faint frown drew Lily’s fair brows together as she recalled her meeting with one of Ronan’s particular friends. His best man, Connor Fitzpatrick, had seemed rather distant when she had been introduced to him the day before, and he had subjected her to a disturbingly close scrutiny that had distinctly unnerved her. Hannah, her own best friend and chief bridesmaid, was having much more success with him now on the dance floor, some remark she had made earning her a wide, brilliant smile.

‘Why the black look?’ Ronan had caught the change in her expression.

‘I was just thinking that I get the impression Connor doesn’t really like or approve of me.’

Those steely eyes flashed swiftly in the direction of his friend, that hint of a frown returning just for a moment. But then a second later Ronan turned back to her with a smile that dismissed her fears as foolish and unnecessary.

‘What’s not to like or approve, little silly?’ he murmured softly. ‘To tell you the truth, he’s probably far more likely to doubt my own sincerity and motives in entering into this marriage. After all, I’ve hardly been the type to settle down until now, and, let’s face it, this was something of a whirlwind romance. You knocked me right off my feet and I haven’t been able to regain my balance ever since.’



Those words had reassured her at the time, Lily recalled miserably, reluctantly coming back to the present to find herself still staring at the door through which Ronan had just disappeared. But now they rang brutally hollow, overlaid instead by the cold, callous declaration that he was leaving and never coming back.