The Ruthless Magnate's Virgin Mistress(58)

By: Lynne Graham

Two years had passed since Abbey and Nikolai had got married. Lysander and Ophelia had staged the wedding for them at Madrigal Court, their beautiful Tudor country house, which lay only thirty miles from Cobblefield House. The wedding had been a fantastic day, which had served to wipe out all Abbey’s unhappy memories of her first tragic wedding day. Now she lived very firmly in the present with her attention centred squarely on the husband she adored and her first child.

Caroline and Drew were a good deal happier than they had been, for they had more time to spend together as a family. Nikolai owned a share of Support Systems now, and Olya managed the business, ensuring that expenses never got out of hand and everything ran like clockwork. Darya was based in New York and still working for Nikolai, as was Sveta, who had taken charge of Arlov Industries in London. Nikolai had other very presentable St Petersburg business graduates working for him, but none of them ever seemed quite as dangerously adoring and possessive of their handsome employer as the original threesome.

Abbey’s miniature doll’s house castle had been rear-ranged and refurbished as a more suitable home for a medieval knight. The lady of the house now wore a Tudor bed gown and there was a hip bath by the fire with her fanciable husband inside it. Abbey reckoned that a warrior just home from battle would probably need a good wash. She believed that the moment Nikolai confessed to having attended the Kensington Doll’s House Festival to buy her presents was the same moment that she should have worked out that he loved her.

She was amazed by how well Nikolai had settled down into being married, as she had initially feared that he might find it boring to be with one woman. But she had gradually come to understand that, deep down inside, Nikolai must always have craved the ordinary stability of a home and a family that he could depend on being there for him. She knew that he loved coming home to her at the end of a long day and that he found the household routine soothing after the volatile cut and thrust of the business world. When he had to travel on business, he phoned her continually to keep up with every little detail of her life while they were apart.

‘I never realised how much babies slept,’ Nikolai remarked, leaning down to jiggle his son’s tiny feet in unashamed hope of waking him up.

‘I’m going to put him up to bed for a nap. He’s had so much attention he’s exhausted. If you wake him, he’ll be as cross as tacks and he’ll cry and cry and cry. On your head be it,’ Abbey warned, settling Danilo into his father’s arms.

Looking a touch daunted by that forthright speech, Nikolai carried his four-month-old son carefully upstairs to the nursery with Alice, Benjamin and Poppy all trailing in their wake. The children all liked Nikolai because he played with them and read stories. He was refreshingly natural and comfortable with children, and Abbey was convinced that he would be a wonderful father to their child, since he took his responsibility towards his child seriously. She watched him settle their infant son into his cradle with infinite gentleness and her eyes prickled with responsive tears of appreciation.

Sometimes she loved Nikolai so much, it almost hurt. She felt incredibly blessed to have found him and won his love.

As the children scampered noisily downstairs in advance of them Nikolai caught his wife to him and kissed her with a slow, deep, erotic thoroughness that she found incredibly exciting. ‘I’d love to tell everyone to go home just so that I can have you all to myself, lubimaya,’ he confided gruffly.

‘I love you,’ Abbey whispered dizzily, her arms wrapped round his neck, ‘but we can’t chuck our guests out just so that we can go to bed.’

Nikolai pressed her close and stole another passionate kiss, scanning her flushed and beautiful face with tender intensity. ‘Can’t we?’

‘If we switched the heating off, that would probably clear the house faster than a fire alarm,’ Abbey commented abstractedly, clutching the lapels of his jacket to stay upright.

‘It would probably get rid of me, too.’ Nikolai laughed with a suggestive shiver, for there was snow on the ground outside.

‘Oh, I could keep you warm,’ Abbey told him languorously, her turquoise violet eyes filled with love and contentment.

Nikolai dealt her a deeply appreciative smile because he did not doubt that statement for a moment. ‘I think I love you more every day I’m with you, Mrs Arlov.’

Abbey reached up to kiss him again, and it was some time before they went down to rejoin their guests with the excuse that Danilo had refused to settle…

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