‘Yes, I did,’ he disagreed. ‘We’ve done everything else the wrong way round. I wanted to do this the right way.’
Rosie was enchanted by the way her ring caught the light. ‘Who says it was the wrong way round?’
‘I do. It took me too long to realise how much you meant to me … I nearly lost you,’ Alexius told her grittily.
‘I love you, Alex. I have from the start,’ Rosie murmured with gentle dignity as she finally abandoned her defensive attitude. ‘I’d be kind of hard to lose.’
He lifted her off the sofa in one swift movement to crush her against his big, powerful frame. ‘I need you … I don’t like my world without you in it. Is that love?’
‘Only you can tell. I’m horribly unhappy when I have to wake up in the morning without you,’ Rosie admitted ruefully. ‘This past week—’
‘—has been hell,’ he cut in harshly, knotting one hand into the fall of her hair to tip her head back, staring down at her with diamond-bright eyes of tender appreciation and pleasure. ‘I was counting the hours until I could see you again and then when I did see you, it all went wrong.’
‘Yes,’ she conceded. ‘You had another woman with you.’
‘And you didn’t look like you any more in that fancy dress. I don’t like other men looking at you. I’m very possessive when it comes to you and I’ve never felt that way before. It seemed so petty but I couldn’t help it, and when you smiled at that creep you were dancing with I wanted to kill him!’ he admitted grimly.
Rosie smiled up at him with wondering eyes, beginning to believe that he was hers at last, and more hers indeed than she had ever dreamt he might be. ‘I love you, Alex.’
‘We’re going to get married as soon as it can be arranged,’ Alexius told her squarely. ‘Tell me now if you’re going to fight about that.’
‘I’m not going to fight. You need me, you care about me and I think you have room in your heart for the baby as well,’ she said, happiness and hope twinned in her heart and blossoming.
‘Our baby,’ Alexius countered, sliding a hand below her skirt to splay his fingers across her stomach. ‘You’re getting bigger, agape mou. Knowing that’s my baby in there is very sexy.’
Rosie trembled as his thumb stroked across her mound, awakening the awareness that his very presence teased with anticipation. He swept her up in his arms and headed for the stairs. ‘You know, I don’t know anything about being a father,’ he warned her worriedly.
‘And I don’t know much more about being a mother,’ she pointed out equably, stroking a calming hand along the hard angular curve of his jaw. ‘We’ll both learn as we go along. We have all the time in the world.’
He laid her down on his big wide bed with tremendous care. ‘I know I love you and I’ll never stop loving you. But it unnerves me to think that we might never have met.’
‘But we did meet.’ Rosie drew him down to her with determined hands, hungry for his kisses, eager to soothe his concerns and wrap him up tight in her love. ‘And now we’re together.’
‘Together for ever,’ Alexius rhymed, his tender gaze locked to her lovely face. ‘I’m afraid you’ve got a life sentence, agape mou. You get no time off for good behaviour.’
‘I can live with that but I can’t live without you,’ Rosie whispered on a soft sigh of pleasure as his sensual mouth covered hers.
ROSIE descended the stairs of the villa on Banos. The big house had been modernised into a vision of stunning contemporary elegance soon after her marriage to Alexius. Her green designer dress was complimented by a breathtaking set of diamond jewellery reputed to have once belonged to the Russian royal family and a gift to her from her husband on their first anniversary. As she reached the hall, a little girl bowled up to her with Bas dancing at her heels.
‘You look like a princess, Mummy,’ Kasma opined. She was a very pretty little girl with a shock of black Stavroulakis curls and her mother’s bright green eyes. Her enquiring mind, impish sense of humour and quick tongue were a mix of both parents. ‘Great-grandad is in the drawing room. He looks very smart too.’
Socrates Seferis was enjoying a quiet drink by the fire. The party being hosted that night by his granddaughter and her husband was to mark the occasion of their fifth wedding anniversary. Time had been kind to the older man, for although his hair was now white, laughter lines were more prominent than frown lines in his weather-beaten face. His health had been good since his surgery, enabling him to continue at the helm of his hotel chain long enough to train Rosie into following in his footsteps.
Rosie and Alexius had settled in London after their wedding when she was five months pregnant with Kasma. Kasma had been born there and Rosie had not gone to university until her daughter was a year old. Basing themselves in the UK had made it easier for Rosie to study for her degree in business management. Alexius had had great plans for his wife to work alongside him after her graduation but a few weeks spent at her husband’s elbow being told what to do every minute of the day had persuaded Rosie that they w
ere not natural companions in an office environment. Instead, Rosie had gone to work for her grandfather and learn the hotel trade and together they had proved an unbeatable combination.
‘You look wonderful,’ her grandfather told her cheerfully. ‘I made a wonderful match for you both, didn’t I?’
Rosie’s fine brows shot towards her hairline. ‘What on earth do you mean?’
Socrates gave her a teasing little smile. ‘When I saw that first photo of you after I had had you investigated, you reminded me so much of my late wife, your grandmother, that I prayed that you had inherited more than her looks. Alexius needed a down-to-earth woman who could make him a home and give him a family, not a fancy beauty more interested in shopping and socialising. That’s why I urged him to look you up and get to know you for me …’
Rosie stared at him in shock, astounded that he could have been so manipulative. ‘Are you serious?’
‘Aren’t you a marvellous fit for each other? Aren’t you happy with him?’ her grandfather prompted with unconcealed satisfaction. ‘Well, then, it was worth the risk.’