Tea & Comfort (Madrona Island Series Book 2)(3)By: Andrea Hurst
Hand in hand, Luke led her out the back of the house toward the water.
“What about the car?” she asked.
“We’ll come back for that later,” he said, guiding her down a footpath to the endless beach below. When they got to the warm sand, they tossed off their shoes and left them behind.
A few stragglers were off in the distance, but they had the beach almost to themselves. The afternoon sun was making its way west as Luke led her in silence to a small, idyllic cove where the ocean water was turquoise and glistened in the sunrays.
“What a beautiful spot,” Darcy said.
“I used to run away here as a kid when my parents were fighting, or when Stefan was tormenting me,” Luke said. “I’d just float in the cove and wish I was old enough to move away.”
Darcy felt for him. She knew the feeling of wanting to leave your family behind and start a new life.
He took her hands in his. “I have never shared this spot with anyone else.” He knelt down on one knee. “You are the one, Darcy. The only one.” He pulled a small satin box out of his pocket.
Her feet froze in the sand. Her heart raced wildly.
“My love, will you marry me?” he asked.
She looked down at the man who completed her heart and soul. If she said yes, their families would blend and she had no idea how that could ever work. But to say no was impossible. There would never be another love like this one in her life. Tears welled in her eyes.
He opened the box to reveal a large but tastefully designed diamond engagement ring. It was breathtaking, but it was Luke who meant everything to her.
“I do, I will,” she managed to get out through happy tears.
A smile spread across his face as he stood and placed the ring on her finger before taking her in his arms and pulling her into a deep embrace. “This is forever,” he whispered into her ear.
Forever was the word that echoed in her mind back at home on Monday when the doctor finally called with her test results. Lupus. An autoimmune disease. She had not had the flu last month. There was a reason her hair was coming out in clumps, her joints still ached, and her weight kept dropping. The flare-ups would continue on and off and the disease could progress to her organs. She needed to come in immediately. Steroid treatments were prescribed, and possibly drug therapy.
Darcy had been called one of the most beautiful women in the world, but love was all she ever really wanted and she’d finally found it with Luke. He’d loved her as Darcy Devereux and never known her true identity, Kyla Nolan. Who would she be now?
Kyla stuffed the delicate silk pouch with rose petals and dried lavender before tying it closed with a gold satin ribbon. These made perfect wedding shower favors, and the soon-to-be-Mrs. DeHaan was picking up the order today. Weddings were in the air on Madrona Island, it seemed.
Lily and Ian’s wedding ceremony at the inn last month had been beautiful. Their self-written vows had brought tears to Kyla’s eyes. Grandpa John had beamed the whole day, and Ian’s young son Jason’s smile made the union complete.
Of all the services Kyla offered at Tea & Comfort, wedding preparations were the most painful sometimes. Her road had not always been smooth. Her breath caught remembering Lily’s grand opening for Madrona Island Bed & Breakfast last July. Luke had completely shocked Kyla when he’d appeared at the gathering. She had no idea how he’d found her or why. His searching eyes and angry but broken stance still haunted her.
“Kyla?” he’d said.
No one else caught that the name was framed as a question. What he did not say was, “I thought your name was Darcy.”
To Luke she was Darcy Devereux, supermodel. Spiky white-tipped hair with flaming red roots. A face painted to perfection. Designer clothes draping her tall, slinky body. That’s how Luke knew and loved her when he’d asked her to be his wife. Kyla, the local owner of Tea & Comfort, with long, flowing, red hair down her back and wearing island garb must have been a shock to him.
After seeing Luke for the first time in two years, her joints had ached and the fatigue returned. She’d feared a relapse of lupus and brought out her arsenal of herbal remedies, meditated twice a day, and was feeling much better now. Luke’s quick departure had been a relief.