Come lie with me, p.21
Come Lie With Me, page 21
She closed her eyes, fighting down the mingled pain and pleasure that made her throat threaten to close. Hearing his voice made her weak all over, and she didn’t know if she wanted to laugh or cry. “Yes,” she gulped. “He’s madly in love with me.”
“What does he look like?” he growled.
“He’s a gorgeous blond, with big blue eyes, not as dark as yours. He pouts for hours if he doesn’t win when we play Go Fish,” she said, and wiped a stray tear from her cheek.
Blake chuckled. “He sounds like real competition. How tall is he?”
“Oh, I don’t know. About as tall as your average five-year-old, I suppose,” she said.
“Well, that’s a relief. I suppose I can leave you alone with him for a few more months.”
She almost dropped the phone and had to grab the cord before it got away from her completely. Putting it back to her ear, she heard him say, “Are you still there?”
“Yes,” she said, and wiped another tear away.
“I’ve been doing a lot of thinking,” he said casually. “You told me over and over again that I didn’t love you; you explained in great detail why I couldn’t love you. But one thing that you never said was that you don’t love me, and it seems to me that should have been your number-one reason for calling off a wedding. Well?”
What did he want? To reassure himself that she was all right, that she wasn’t pining away? She bit her lip, then said weakly, “I don’t love you.”
“You’re lying,” he snapped in return, and she could feel his temper rising. “You’re so crazy about me that you’re standing there crying, aren’t you?”
“No,” she denied, fiercely dashing the wetness from her face.
“You’re lying again. I’ve got a meeting waiting for me, so I’ll let you get back to your patient, but I’m not through with you. If you thought you could end it by getting on a plane, you have a lot to learn about me. I’ll be calling you again. Dream about me, honey.”
“I will not!” she said fiercely, but she said it to a dial tone, and she was lying anyway. She dreamed about him almost every night and woke up with her pillow damp from the tears she’d shed in her sleep.
Thoroughly rattled, she returned to Kevin, and delighted him by losing a game of Go Fish.
Over the next few days her nerves gradually settled down, and she stopped jumping every time the phone rang. A blizzard shut the city down for two days, knocking out phone service and the electricity. The electricity was restored in a matter of hours, keeping them from freezing, but the phone service waited until clear skies had returned. She was out in the snow with Kevin and Amy, building a snowman for them with their inexpert but hilarious help, when Francine called her.
“Dione, you have a call! It’s your friend again. Come on in; I’ll bring the children in and get them dried off.”
“Awww, Mommy,” Kevin protested, but Francine was already pushing his little wheelchair inside and Amy followed obediently.
“Hello,” Blake said warmly after she stammered out a hesitant greeting. “Are you pregnant?” This time she was prepared and held on tightly to the receiver. “No. I…I thought about that, too, but everything’s all right.”
“Good. I didn’t mean to get carried away. Serena is pregnant. She didn’t waste any time when Richard came back. She was so excited at the possibility that she couldn’t wait to take one of those early warning tests, or whatever you call them.”
“I’m happy for her. How do you feel about being an uncle?”
“It’s okay by me, but I’d rather be a father.”
She cautiously leaned against the wall. “What do you mean?”
“I mean that when we get married I’m going to throw away my whole supply of—”
“We’re not getting married!” she yelped, then glanced around to see if anyone had heard her. No one was in sight, so she guessed that Francine was still occupied with the children.
“Sure we are,” he returned calmly. “On the first of May. You set the date yourself. Don’t you remember? I was making love to you.”
“I remember,” she whispered. “But don’t you remember? I broke the engagement. I gave your heart back to you.”
“That’s what you think,” he said. “We’re getting married if I have to drag you kicking and screaming back to Phoenix.”
Again she was left listening to a dial tone.
She couldn’t make any sense out of what he was doing. Sleep got harder and harder to attain, and she lay awake going over the possibilities. Why would he insist that they were getting married? Why couldn’t he just let it go?
It was a week before he called her again, and Francine had an amused gleam in her eye when she handed her the phone. “It’s that dishy guy again,” she said as Dione lifted the receiver to her ear.
“Tell her thank you,” Blake chuckled. “How are you, honey?”
“Blake, why are you calling me?” she asked in desperation.
“Why shouldn’t I call you? Is it against the law for a man to talk to the woman he’s going to marry?”
“I’m not going to marry you!” she said, and this time she bellowed it. Francine popped her head out of the kitchen and grinned at her.
Blake was laughing. “Sure you are. You already know all my bad habits and love me anyway; what could be better?”
“Would you listen to reason?” she yelled. “It’s out of the question for me to marry you!”
“You’re the one who’s not listening,” he countered. “You love me, and I love you. I don’t know why you’re so convinced that I can’t love you, but you’re wrong. Just think of the fun we’re going to have while I show you how wrong you are.”
“This is crazy,” she moaned.
“No, this isn’t crazy. You’ve got some crazy ideas, though, and you’re going to get rid of them. You’ve convinced yourself that no one is going to love you, and you walked away from me, knowing that it was tearing me apart and half killing yourself at the same time. Your mother didn’t love you, and Scott didn’t love you, but they were only two people. How many people since then have loved you, and you pushed them away because you were afraid of getting hurt again? I’m not going to let you push me away, honey. Think about it.”
“Some guy,” Francine teased when Dione walked into the kitchen. Then she saw Dione’s white face and quickly pushed a chair at her, then poured a cup of coffee. “Is something wrong?”
“Yes. No. I don’t know.” Dazed, she drank the coffee, then raised stunned golden eyes to the other woman. “He wants to marry me.”
“So I gathered. What’s so surprising about that? I imagine a lot of men have wanted to marry you.”
“He won’t take no for an answer,” she said abstractedly.
“If he looks as great as he sounds, why would you want him to take no for an answer?” Francine asked practically. “Unless he’s a bum.”
“No, he’s not a bum. He’s…even greater than he sounds.”
“Do you love him?”
Dione buried her face in her hands. “So much that I’ve been about to die without him.”
“Then marry him!” Francine sat down beside her. “Marry him, and whatever problem is keeping you apart will be settled later. You’d be surprised how many problems people can settle when they’re sleeping in the same bed every night and they wake up to the same face every morning. Don’t be afraid to take the chance; every marriage is a gamble, but then so is walking across the street. If you didn’t take the chance you’d never get to the other side.”
Words tumbled around in Dione’s mind that night as she lay sleeplessly in bed. Blake had said that she was afraid of getting hurt again, and it was the truth. But was she so afraid of getting hurt that she had deliberately turned her back on a man who loved her?
No one had ever loved her before. No one had worried about her, held her when she cried, comforted her when she was upset….
Except Blake. He had done all those things. Even Richard had thought
Blake loved her! It was incredible, but she had to believe it. She had set him free, expecting him to forget her, but it hadn’t happened like that. It wasn’t a case of “out of sight, out of mind.” He had gone to the trouble of finding out where she was, and he had given her time to think about a life without him before he called. He hadn’t given up.
As the days passed she went through her routine with Kevin with a smile on her face, humming constantly. He was so willing to do anything she asked that it was a pleasure to work with him, and she knew that soon he wouldn’t need her any longer. That automobile accident that had injured him was long forgotten, and all he was concerned with now was if he would be able to play ball by the time summer came.
“How’s your patient doing?” Blake asked the next time he called, and Dione smiled at the sound of his voice.
“He’s doing great. I’m about ready to graduate him to a walker.”
“That’s good news, and not just for him. That means you’ll be able to take a long honeymoon.”
She didn’t say anything, just stood there smiling. No, Blake Remington didn’t give up. Any other man would have thrown up his hands in disgust, but when Blake decided that he wanted something, he went after it.
“Have you fainted?” he asked warily.
“No,” she said, and burst into tears. “It’s just that I love you so much, and I miss you.”
He drew a long, shuddering breath. “Well, thank God,” he muttered. “I was beginning to think I really would have to kidnap you. Lady, it’s going to take a lifetime of massages to make up for what you’ve put me through.”
“I’ll even sign a contract, if you want,” she said, swiping at the tears.
“Oh, I want, all right. An ironclad contract. What day can I fetch you? If I know you, you have Kevin’s schedule mapped out to the very day you kiss him good-bye and walk away, and I’m going to be there to meet you when you walk out the door. You’re not getting out of my sight until you’re Mrs. Remington.”
“April twelfth,” she said, laughing and crying at the same time.
“I’ll be there.”
He was there, leaning on the doorbell at nine o’clock sharp that morning, while a spring snowstorm dumped its white load on his unprotected head. When Francine opened the door he grinned at her. “I’ve come for Dione,” Blake said. “Is she awake yet?”
Francine opened the door wider, smiling at the tall man with the slight limp who entered her house. There was a reckless air about him; he was the sort of man who didn’t let the woman he loved walk away from him.
“She’s trying to get everything packed, but the children are helping her and it could take a while,” Francine explained. “I imagine they’re both wrapped around her legs and crying.”
“I understand the feeling,” he muttered, and at Francine’s questioning look he grinned again. “I’m one of her ex-patients,” he explained.
“Take good care of her,” Francine pleaded. “She’s been so good to Kevin, keeping his spirits up, not letting him get bored. She’s special.”
“I know,” he said gently.
Dione came around the turn of the stairs with two tearful children in her arms. She stopped when she saw Blake, and her entire face lighted up. “You came,” she breathed, as if she hadn’t dared to let herself really believe it.
“With bells on,” he said, going up the steps in a graceful leap that made a mockery of the remaining limp. There was no way to get his arms around her without including the children, so he pulled all three of them to him and kissed her. Amy stuck her finger between their mouths and giggled.
Blake drew back and gave the little girl a rueful look, which she returned with wide-eyed innocence. “Are you the man who’s taking Dee away?” Kevin asked tearfully, lifting his wet face from Dione’s neck.
“Yes, I am,” Blake replied gravely, “but I promise to take good care of her if you’ll let me have her. I was her patient, too, and I need her a lot. My leg still hurts me at night, and she has to rub it.”
Kevin could understand that, and after a moment he nodded. “All right,” he sighed. “She’s real good at rubbing legs.”
“Kevin, let Dione put you down,” Francine directed. When both of the children were on the floor, Amy wrapped her plump little arms around Blake’s leg and looked up a long, long way to his face. He looked down at her, then lifted his eyes to Dione’s face. “At least two,” he said. “And maybe even three, if you don’t give me a daughter on your first two tries.”
“I’m thirty years old, remember,” she said cautiously. “Almost thirty-one.”
“So? You have the body of an eighteen-year-old, only in better shape. I should know,” he murmured, the hot light in his eyes making her cheeks turn pink. In a normal voice he said, “Are you packed?”
“Yes, I’ll bring my suitcases down. You wait right here,” she said hurriedly, turning and sprinting up the stairs. Her heart was galloping in her chest, and it wasn’t from the stairs. Just seeing him again had been like getting kicked, except that it didn’t hurt. She felt alive, truly alive; even her fingertips were tingling with joy. In eighteen days she would be getting married!
“Hurry it up!” he called, and she shivered with delight. Picking up her two suitcases she ran down the stairs.
When they were in the car he sat for a long moment just looking at her. Francine and the children had said their last good-byes in the house, not coming out into the snow, so they were all alone. The snow had already covered the windows of the car, encasing them in a white cocoon.
“I have something for you,” he murmured, reaching into his pocket. He withdrew the ruby heart and dangled it before her eyes. “You might as well keep it,” he said as he clasped it around her neck. “It never did work right after you tried to give it back, anyway.”
Tears burned her eyes as the ruby heart slid down to its resting place between her breasts. “I love you,” she said unsteadily.
“I know. I had some bad moments when you first gave the heart back to me, but after I thought about it, I realized how frightened you were. I had to let you go to convince you that I loved you. Lady, that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, letting you get on the plane without me. Learning how to walk again was child’s play compared to that.”
“I’ll make it up to you,” she whispered, going into his arms. His familiar scent teased her senses, and she inhaled it delightedly. The smell of him brought back hot, sunny days and the echo of laughter.
“Starting tonight,” he threatened. “Or better yet, as soon as we can get to the hotel room I’ve booked for us.”
“Aren’t we flying back to Phoenix today?” she asked, lifting her head in surprise.
“In case you haven’t noticed, we’re in the middle of a snowstorm.” He grinned. “All flights are grounded until it clears, which could be days and days. How would you like to spend days and days in bed with me?”
“I’ll try to bear it,” she sighed.
“Do you spell that b-a-r-e?” he asked, nuzzling her neck. Then, slowly, as if he had waited as long as he could, he closed his lips over hers. He kissed her for a long time, savoring the taste and feel of her, then pulled himself away with a visible effort.
“I’m able to drive now,” he said unnecessarily as he put the car into gear.
“So I see.”
“And I’m flying again. I tested a new engine last week—”
“Are you going to keep doing the dangerous stuff?” she interrupted.
He eyed her. “I’ve been thinking about that. I don’t think I’ll be taking as many chances as I used to. There’s too much excitement going on at home for me to risk missing any of it.”
“Hey!” a deep voice called. “Are you in training for the Olympics?”
She began treading water. “What are you doing home so early?” she asked, pushing her hair out of her eyes.
“That’s a fine welcome,” her husband of two weeks grumbled. He shed his coat and draped it over one of the chairs, then pulled his tie loose. Dione watched as he systematically undressed, dropping his clothes on the chair until he stood as naked as the day he was born. He came into the water in a neat, shallow dive, and reached her with a few powerful strokes of his arms.
“If you get caught like that, don’t blame me,” she warned.
“It’s too hot for clothes,” he complained. “Did you get the job?”
“Of course I got the job,” she sniffed.
“Conceited.” He put his hand on top of her head and ducked her, which didn’t bother her at all. She was as good a swimmer under water as she was on top of it, and she kicked her graceful legs, darting away from him. He caught up with her when she reached the edge.
“You never did say why you’re home so early,” she said, turning to face him.
“I came home to make love to my wife,” he replied. “I couldn’t keep my mind on what I was doing; I kept thinking about last night,” he said, and watched in fascination as her eyes grew heavy-lidded with memory.
He moved in closer to her and pressed his mouth to hers, his hand going to the back of her head and slanting her mouth across his. Their tongues met in mutual desire, and Dione quivered, letting her body float against his. Her legs twined with his and found them steady.
“You’re standing,” she said, lifting her mouth away.
“I know.” His hand moved purposefully up her back and deftly unclipped her bikini top. He pulled it way from her and tossed it out of the pool. It landed on the tiles with a sodden plop. His fingers touched her breasts, cupping them together as he leaned forward and took another kiss.
by Linda Howard / Romance / Mystery & Thrillers have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes