Wife for a Day(9)

By: Kate Walker

Built in a stone that had been mellowed by the passage of years, the house had an elegant porch supported on Grecian-style pillars and mullioned windows that reflected the glow of the setting sun. Over half of the front was covered in luxuriant ivy that extended over the roof of the large Victorian-style conservatory attached to one side. On the other side was a formal rose garden and at the back, seen through an archway, was the promise of an even more spacious garden, richly lawned.

‘What a gorgeous place! Whose is it?’

‘Yours—and mine.’

‘Ours!’ Lily was too stunned to notice the definite break between Ronan’s words. ‘But how?’

‘I bought it. Isn’t that how one usually acquires a house?’

‘Of course I know that!’ Lily aimed a playful punch at his arm. ‘When did you…?’

‘I signed the contracts last week. Oh, I know…’ He’d seen her expression and interpreted it with almost telepathic accuracy. ‘Connor said I should have consulted with you, but as soon as I saw the place I knew that you’d love it.’

‘And you were right.’

Lily let the fact that he had understood her so well ease the sharp sting that had come with the thought that he had autocratically taken charge of everything without a word to her. What she found harder to accept was the fact that his best friend had known about the house—her marital home—before she had.

‘Well, the two of us would have been far too cramped in that little flat of yours. This place is near enough to town for you to travel in every day and keep an eye on your business. After all, as the owner of Edgerton’s most up and coming floral design business you should live somewhere rather more elegant than a one-bedroomed box.’

‘And it’s not too far from the motorway, so you can get to and from London.’

‘Mmm—seen enough? Because from the look of the clouds gathering there’s a storm about to break directly overhead. If we don’t get inside soon we’ll be soaked before we even reach the door.’

Ronan was quickly proved right. They had barely unloaded the cases from the car and deposited them in the black and white tiled hall when the first crash of thunder sounded, followed seconds later by the lash of rain against the windows.

‘Oh, that was close!’ Lily jumped exaggeratedly, huddling close to Ronan.

‘You’re not scared of thunder?’

‘Not me.’ She lifted laughing eyes to his disbelieving face. ‘But it was a good excuse to get myself into your arms so that I could do this…’

Drawing his dark head down, she kissed him long and hard, tantalising his lips open with small, seductive darts of her tongue. Her private hope was that this was all the encouragement he would need to take things further, but, although his response was satisfactorily passionate, he made no attempt to deepen the caress, instead easing himself from her grasp and capturing her wandering hands in one of his.

‘Enough of that! Don’t you want to see your new home?’

‘The bedrooms, perhaps.’ Lily’s smile was roguish. ‘The rest of the house will still be there afterwards… No?’ She could not believe it when he shook his head.

After weeks of abstinence throughout their admittedly brief courtship, she had been so sure that Ronan would be impatient to consummate their marriage. In her own mind, she had been absolutely convinced that they would barely get inside their room before he would make passionate love to her. But that had been when she had believed that he was taking her to a hotel room, not this lovely house.

‘Later.’ His smile grew when he saw her mutinous face. ‘Lily, I want this to be just right. I want everything to go exactly as I planned, so please, bear with me.’

A flash of lightning seared across the sky, illuminating the strong-boned features of his face and making his eyes gleam like silver.

‘Believe me, it will be worth waiting for.’

The words, the deep, intent voice in which they were spoken, and the burningly sensual look that accompanied them, all combined to send a shiver of delighted anticipation down Lily’s spine as her momentary disappointment fled to be replaced by a tingle of excitement.

He was right. Delaying now would only add to the pleasure of what was to come. They should pace themselves slowly, savour the anticipation, let their appetites grow until they could hold back no longer. They had all the time in the world; there was no need to pounce on each other like gluttons at a feast table, cramming tasty morsels into their mouths with indiscriminate greed.

‘I’ll hold you to that promise,’ she told him huskily. ‘But, until that time comes, I suppose I’ll have to settle for the guided tour.’