Irresistible Temptation(69)

By: Sara Craven

Olivia said nothing. She could recognize the pain in his eyes, the loneliness and the fear. Recognise them because she shared them.

Only she didn't have to. And nor did he. Not any more. Never again. Because there could be forgiveness, and a new beginning. And, she realised shakily, all the happiness she could ever want in this world.

And somewhere deep inside her, in the cold, unhappy recesses of her soul, a tiny tendril of warmth and faith and trust was stirring into life. Defying the autumn chill. Coming into full, glorious bloom.

He threw his head back. 'I said everything changed when we had dinner together. What I didn't realise at first was how deep—how fundamental—the change had been. I didn't know I'd started to love you. Not then. Not immediately.

'Because I didn't expect that. If I'm honest, I didn't want it. I had my own plans.'

'I went back to Ireland to sort my head out To tell myself that you were still in love with Jeremy and I didn't have a prayer.'

His mouth twisted. 'But I couldn't stop talking about you, and at last my mother asked when she was going to meet her future daughter-in-law.

'And I knew then that, for better or worse, I had to come back. To make you see that Jeremy was no good, and that you belonged to me. To convince you, somehow, that I loved you, and wanted you as my wife. Because that was the truth and the whole truth.'

He sighed. 'I was on my way round to see you when Maria turned up. She needed my help, and I had to give it'

'How—how is she?' Olivia asked.

'Hurting badly,' he said grimly. 'But her family have rallied round her, and she's staying with her parents. I gather she's already served divorce papers on Jeremy.'

He was silent for a moment. 'I didn't mean to make love to you that night. I came after you to comfort you—because I was sure you'd be hurting too. I told myself I had to make you feel safe again—to win your trust And instead I found myself in paradise.

'Now I've nothing, Olivia. Because when you went you took it all. Every hope—every dream. Come back, my darting. My one and only love. Make me human again.'

She was very still, her heart hammering with joy. With longing. With the promise of fulfilment and a love that would last for ever.

She said softly, a smile quivering on her lips, ' "O! you should not rest Between the elements of air and earth. But you should pity me!".'

'Just pity?' It was a shadow of his old smile. And his eyes asked for reassurance, and absolution.

'No,' she said, her eyes radiant, her voice tender. 'Love.'

And she ran across the damp grass and into the sanctuary of Declan's waiting arms.

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