‘Nothing too ambitious, then,’ Lisa teased him gently.
‘Very ambitious,’ Tino admitted, ‘and because of that I will need someone at my side. I can’t even start the work I want to do until I find that one special person—someone who shares my aims, my desires, my dreams… someone who knows what it feels like to be on the outside looking in. Can you be that person, Lisa?’
‘Are you offering me a job?’
Tino tilted his head as he pretended to consider this. ‘Can you think of anyone better qualified to take on this task than a successful businesswoman who has accepted that she can delegate some of her duties to other members of her team at Bond Steel, a woman who has suddenly discovered she has a heart, a woman who knows what it is to be an outcast, a woman of principle, a woman who is every bit as driven as I am, a woman who has recently declared she is looking for radical change in her life?’
Closing her eyes, Lisa took time over framing her answer. ‘All this—’ she touched his face gently in wonder ‘—and a new job in just one working week.’
‘Exactly as we planned,’ Tino pointed out. ‘We make a great team.’
‘And if I was looking for something more?’
‘More than just a job, more than simply joining your organisation to help you with this new project?’ She tensed as Tino stretched beyond her to reach for his clothes. ‘What are you doing?’
‘Looking for something…’
Seeing the velvet case, Lisa exclaimed with concern. ‘You were supposed to take those back.’
‘Surely you didn’t expect me to take them back to the shop after you’d worn them, did you?’
Remembering where she’d worn them, Lisa blushed. ‘Perhaps not.’
‘Oh, look, here’s another one.’ Falling back onto the pillows, Tino dragged her down with him. Now there were two velvet boxes. ‘Which one? You choose.’
‘You shouldn’t be buying me presents.’
‘Buying gifts for you is one impulse I will never allow you to control,’ he informed her. ‘Now, which one do you choose?’
‘They say all the best things come in small packages.’
‘But maybe you are right this time,’ Tino conceded. ‘Why don’t you open the small box and find out?’
Taking it from him, Lisa pressed the small gilt catch and gasped as the lid flew open. The emerald ring was a perfect match to the fabulous earrings. ‘What’s this? A down payment on my first month’s wages?’
‘So, what am I to think?’ she demanded wryly.
Taking her left hand, he tested the ring for size on her marriage finger. ‘Thank goodness, it fits perfectly. Oh, and there’s one more thing.’
‘Yes?’ Lisa could hardly tear her gaze away from the incredible jewel on her finger.
‘When we’re in bed,’ Tino continued sternly, ‘there’ll be no more talk of wages and business. In our private life there will be just you, me, and our love under discussion.’
‘We can hardly be married without it.’
‘Is this going to be another one of your business con
tracts?’ he teased.
‘Not just another contract,’ Lisa argued firmly. ‘The most important contract of all.’
‘So, will you shake on the deal?’ He started to smile.
‘I’ll certainly show some reaction,’ she promised huskily when he drew her close to kiss her again.
‘NO, NO, no…’ Sprawled on the floor with her legs stuck out in front of her, Lisa waggled her finger.
‘That won’t work… You have to do it like this,’ Tino informed her, sweeping their son onto his shoulders.
Now, instead of screaming with frustration, the determined two-year-old was screaming with laughter as Tino galloped with him around the room.
‘Come on, let’s gather up the pieces of your jigsaw,’ Lisa suggested to the fairy princess at her side. Elena took her puzzles seriously, and hadn’t welcomed her brother’s interference, but the fact that she had insisted on wearing a tinsel headband and a pair of wings while she worked made Lisa think that Elena would grow up to have just the right mix of intellect and playfulness.