Authors: Caroline Anderson
âYou love me?'
He sounded stunned, so she reached out a hand and cradled his jaw tenderly. âYes, James. I love you. I've told myself it's too early, you're still grieving for Beth, but I think, given time, we could have something good, something solid and decent andâ'
âAnd the children?' he asked, his hand coming up to grip hers where it lay against his cheek. âDo you love the children?'
âOh, James,' she whispered unsteadily, tears filling her eyes. âHow could I not love the children? Of course I love the children.'
âThis isn't just because of what Rory said? You know, the Father Christmas thing, about wanting a mommy for christmas? Because I couldn't stand that, you being with us because you pitied us.'
âI don't pity you!' she said, shocked. âWhy would I pity you? OK, you've had a hell of a time, but you've got Rory and Freya, and you're all so close, you love each other so much, and they're yours. Your own family. That's so precious. I've wanted that so much,' she said wistfully.
His arm slid round her shoulders and he hugged her gently. âI know. I could tell, from the way you talked about kids, from seeing you with mine. You're a natural mother, and it's a wicked waste that you haven't got your own children. You'd be wonderful with them.'
She gave a little huff of laughter. âI thought, when I married Jon, that maybe I'd have all that, but he wasâ¦just wrong for me. So wrong.'
âAnd you think I could be right?'
âAbsolutely right,' she said, hanging on to his hand as if she'd die without the contact. âYou're warm and generous and loving, you don't make judgements, you care about peopleâI love you, James. I didn't think I'd ever dare to love again, after Jon, but I can't help loving you, or your family. And you aren't a strange little family. You're just sad.'
His lips brushed hers. âNo. We were sad. We aren't sad now, because we've found you, and you've made such a difference to our lives that the idea of going back to our house and leaving you behind is unbearable.'
âThen don't. Stay here, with me while you do up your house. Or take me with you, and we'll live in a muddle. Or I've got another house we could live in, or we could sell both and live here and buy the other barn off my parents and convert it and live in that. I don't care, just so long as I'm with you.'
Kate, shut up! Let him speak. Let him think. Stop talking about nothing.
He laughed softly, and his lips brushed hers. âI don't care, either. I love you so much,' he murmured. âI realised it the other night, and I was gutted, because I didn't think there was any way you'd be interested in me. In us.'
âOh, James, you idiot,' she chided softly, and he laughed again, a little oddly, and squeezed her hand.
âYeah. I am, aren't I? A real fool. And sitting here in the dark waiting for you to come home, I seem to have turned into an optimistic fool,' he said, then, easing away from her, he stood up and walked towards the door.
âJames?' she said, fear and confusion gripping her as he walked away, but he just put the lights on low so they could see each other and turned round and came back to her, kneeling down in front of her and taking her hand, that slightly crooked, uncertain smile a little unsteady.
âMarry me, Kateâif you really mean it, and you really love me in the way that I love youâthat the sun won't shine and the night never ends if I'm not with youâthen marry me. I put the past behind me, ages ago. I loved Beth, and there'll always be a special place for her in my heart, but in a way I let her go when she was diagnosed. And then I was so busy with the practical stuff that before I knew it, it didn't really hurt any more. It's the present that's been getting me down, but since I've met you everything's changed. It feels as if the sun's come out again, and all I can think about is the futureâwith you.'
He pressed her fingers to his lips. âI love you. I need you. We need you. Be part of our family. Extend itâor not. Whatever you want, because I can't live without you, Kate. I need you, more than I need air. You're my heart, my soul. My life. My love.'
His eyes were bright, the pale blue shimmering with emotion, and she leant forwards and touched her lips to his.
âIs that a yes? Please, tell me it's a yes.'
âYes, my love,' she said. âYes, it's a yes. I'll marry you, because I need you, tooâall three of you. And I can't live without you, either. But I have to warn you, I do want children of my own. And maybe other people's, too. I'm afraid I'm a bit like my mother.'
He smiled. âA full house, every Christmas, till the end of our days?'
She laughed a little unevenly. âProbably, so your lovely house may not be big enough for us for very long. Can you bear it?'
He drew her into his arms and hugged her tight. âIt sounds wonderful,' he said softly, and then lifting his head, he stared down into her eyes and smiled.
âHappy Christmas, my love,' he murmured, and kissed herâ¦
A MOMMY FOR CHRISTMAS
First North American Publication 2008
Copyright Â© 2008 by Caroline Anderson
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