Beauty in the Billionaire's Bed - Page 47

It hadn’t helped that the bohemian world they’d created had felt so far removed from ‘normal’ life. The life lived by his cousins and his friends from school.

Nobody else’s mother played her cello on the beach. His friends’ fathers didn’t let their sons have a day off school to practise making the perfect martini.

In their enchanted cocoon of love and laughter, anything ‘real’, like letters from the hospital, had got ignored or forgotten.

But cancer didn’t go away just because you ignored it.

It still burned in him now, the memory of his parents’ life together. It was a dull, red fire that he purposely kept smouldering—but not because he was waiting for the right woman to come along and rekindle it. His jaw clenched. No, it was there as a reminder of what happened when you let someone become your whole world and then you lost them and your whole world crumbled.

And that was another difference between him and Frankie.

She was still a believer—still looking to replace like with like, still hoping for something, or someone, to fill the gap in her life.

That someone wouldn’t—couldn’t—be him. What had happened with Harriet had only happened because he, like Frankie, had been young and alone and lost in grief. Yes, he had loved Harriet, but in a couple of months he would have probably loved someone else. And then someone else.

Only his life had just imploded, and his feelings for her had got mixed up with all the loss and the loneliness, and ultimately everything had been a disaster.

But it hadn’t been without purpose. At least he could make sure that Frankie didn’t make the same mistake.

He looked down at her hands, turning them over. They were so small and soft. She was soft—he knew that now. Too soft for a world where you didn’t need to be in Antarctica for life to be randomly brutal and harsh. Too soft to be in that world alone.

And one day she would find someone...someone special.

Blocking out the nip of jealousy at the thought of the faceless, nameless man who would one day hold Frankie close, he tightened his hand around hers.

For now, she just needed support.

‘I find it helps to live in the moment,’ he said slowly. ‘To focus on the real and the present.’

Her eyes found his. ‘Is that why you like sailing so much?’

He considered her question. ‘I’ve never looked at it that way, but maybe yes.’ Lifting her hand to his mouth, he kissed it gently. ‘In vino veritas.’

She grimaced. ‘I haven’t drunk that much.’ Reaching for the bottle, she giggled. ‘Oops... Perhaps I have. I don’t normally like wine, but this is so delicious. All your wines are.’

He laughed then—not just at the wonder in her voice but at his own sudden and startling joy in the ‘real and present’ moment he was living. A moment he could enjoy in good faith, knowing that he was back in control.

‘My father would have been deeply gratified to hear you say so. Wines were one of his three great loves.’

He saw the flicker of curiosity in her blue eyes—eyes that changed from moment to moment like the sea shimmering beneath the cliffs, so that first they were silver, then a dark indigo, and then the colour of amethysts.

‘What were the other two?’ she asked.

She had done it again. Resurrected the past so that he was thinking about his mother. Her face was clearer than Frankie’s, the absence of her no less unthinkable and punitive now than it had been in those terrible first few days after her death.

He let a minute or two of silence tick by, but he could hardly ignore her question.

‘That would be painting... And Helena. My mother,’ he said slowly. ‘Unfortunately for my grandfather.’

Frankie frowned. ‘Why unfortunately?’

‘That’s how my parents met. My grandfather hired Lucien to paint my mother’s portrait for her twenty-first birthday—’

‘And they fell in love!’ She ended his sentence triumphantly, excitement lighting up her face.

He nodded. ‘Correct. And then they eloped. Over the border to Scotland. They planned it all in secret for months. Nobody knew anything about it until they called from Gretna Green.’

Frankie’s eyes were wide and soft. ‘That’s so romantic.’

Tags: Louise Fuller Billionaire Romance
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