His blazing blue eyes burnt into her as he groaned and slid his big hands down her back. She could feel his fingers, warm through the fabric, as they came to rest on her hips, his thumbs on the indent of her waist. ‘I’ve only just found you again. Do you think I’d run the risk of losing you? It would be selfish—Jasmine needs her mother, she needs you.... I need you, Angel. There was a time when I thought about you as my weakness...now I know you are my strength.’
Tears of emotion filled her eyes, spilling like crystal drops down her cheeks. ‘You need a woman who can give you everything. You need to wait. I know it might seem impossible now,’ she told him gently, ‘but one day you’ll love someone the way you did Emma. Imagine how awful it would be if, when that time came, you were tied to me. You need love in a marriage, Alex, and you deserve it. And you deserve babies with that person. I’ve seen you with Jasmine. You’ll want a family of your own one day and I can’t give it you.’
‘You stupid woman.’
‘You really are a stupid woman!’ The insult was delivered in a voice that held so much love that her eyes filled. ‘You already have given me a family—you have given me Jasmine. You and Jasmine are all the family I want or need, my bolshy, belligerent, beautiful Angelina, my very own Angel. I love you.’
She swallowed and covered the bottom half of her face with her hands. ‘But I’m not...’
‘You’re not second best.’
Her eyes widened at this display of perception. ‘I loved Emma,’ he agreed quietly. ‘And I was glad I was there for her, but we barely had a relationship before I became her carer. We were never really a couple. I think if things had been different we could have been happy but you...you...’ He touched her cheek, wonder shining in the incandescent blue of his eyes as he bent to kiss her lips. ‘You are my soulmate.’
Joy exploded through her. ‘I love you, Alex.’
At the words the tension drained from him and he smiled. Taking her hand, holding her eyes with his, he placed it palm flat against his chest, against the beat of his heart. ‘If life took you away from me, it would break. I would break,’ he told her in a voice thick and throbbing with the strength of his emotions.
Tears of joy seeping from her eyes, Angel took his hand and kissed the palm lovingly while she looked up at him, vision blurred with tears of joy. ‘I won’t let you break, Alex,’ she promised huskily.
He brushed the tears lovingly away from her face with his thumb. ‘Marry me, my Angel.’
‘What are you doing tomorrow?’
His grin blazed as he bent his head to claim her lips. ‘Becoming the luckiest man on the planet!’
It was a title he never tired of hearing. ‘Yes, Miss Jasmine?’
‘Can we go now?’
Jumping up and down impatiently, Jasmine nodded vigorously. ‘I’ve been ready for hours.’
Alex shrugged. ‘Don’t look at me—so have I. We’re waiting for your mother. Blame her.’
‘Blame me for what this time?’ Angel asked, walking into the room.
‘Keeping us waiting,’ Jasmine supplied.
‘What’s the hurry? The snow isn’t going to melt anytime soon.’ It had been one of the longest winters on record.
‘It might! The sun is shining and I want to show Daddy my snowman. He doesn’t believe it’s taller than him...nearly taller than him.’
‘Well, I’m sorry, but getting this one ready is not a five-minute job.’ Angel looked down at the bundle in her arms who was barely visible beneath the layers he was cocooned in. His eyes were closed; his dark lashes lay like a fan across his cheeks. Looking at him it was hard to believe he had kept them awake half the night.
Amazing to think now that when she’d first discovered she was pregnant she had really thought it might split them apart. It was the thing they had both agreed on: no more children. But it had happened anyway, her little miracle, and in the end it had drawn them closer than ever.
She had been more worried about telling Alex than about the pregnancy itself, and she would never forget the look on his face when she had told him. She had never thought to see her big, bold, impossibly brave husband scared, but he had been. She never saw that look again, but she knew the fear was there and the memory of the terror in his eyes would stay with her for ever. Now though, when she thought of it, she was able to see it beside the expression on his face when he had held his newborn son for the first time.