Christmas in the Billionaire's Bed(57)By: Janice Maynard
“Was that incident what caused the rift with your father?”
“Yes. I was furious and distraught and completely at a loss as to what to do. He ruined my life.”
“Or maybe you and I ruined our lives together.”
She grimaced, nodding. “A decade lost.”
Aidan cupped her face in his hands. “That decade taught me some important lessons, my love. I’ve come to understand that forgiveness has to be unconditional. And it’s finally been pounded into my hard skull that the people who love me don’t deserve to be shut out...that our connection and commitment to one another make life rich.” He paused, his throat working. “I won’t ever let you go again.”
Emma trembled, afraid to assume too much. “Meaning what, Aidan?”
He kissed her softly on the lips, a reverent, sweet caress. When he pulled back, his eyes gleamed. “It means that you’re going to marry me. The sooner, the better. My work, your antique business—we can handle those details as we go along.”
Joy welled in her chest. “Don’t I get a say in the matter?”
“Not at all. This is nonnegotiable. But I think we’d better get out of here quickly.”
“Because the thoughts I’m having about you right now are definitely not appropriate in this setting.”
* * *
Outside, he took her in his arms again, and kissing her deeply, backed her up against the door of the church and sealed his vow. He had come so close to losing her a second time, it terrified him. “I love you, Em. Body and soul. I never stopped. I’ve lied to myself for years, living on the surface of life, never willing to admit that there was more.”
Her smile was radiant, warming him even as the chill of night swirled around him. “You’re the best Christmas present I’ve ever received. I love you, too, Aidan. My apartment is close. What if we go there and I show you exactly how much?”
He shuddered, already imagining the feel of her body pressed against his. “Hold that thought, my little tease. There’s one thing we have to do first.”
Her eyes widened in comprehension. “Of course...”
* * *
The Silver Beeches Lodge was booked to capacity. Aidan held Emma’s hand as they walked up the steps. As the doorman welcomed then into the lobby, Emma hung back.
“I’m nervous,” she whispered.
“Why, my love? You’ve already met everyone.”
“But it’s Christmas. And I’m the reason you almost missed it.”
“You’re also the reason I came back.”
Emma’s brow furrowed as they headed back toward the small dining room that had been set aside for the Kavanagh celebration. “I forgot to ask. Did you have some kind of epiphany about us?”
He stood in the doorway, his arm around her waist and surveyed his loud, wonderful family before they had a chance to notice him. The remnants of dinner littered the large table. In the far corner, a mountain of brightly wrapped gifts waited to be opened.
Pressing a kiss to the top of Emma’s head, Aidan paused to savor the incredible feeling of happiness and joy that swept over him. “Let’s just say that I did the math, and I realized if we start right now, we can still make it to our fiftieth wedding anniversary.”
Emma leaned into him, the woman he’d always loved and needed. “Merry Christmas, Aidan,” she said.
“Merry Christmas, my English rose...”