Skittish, Dara came forward, but instead of sitting on the couch, she sat on the floor, crossing her legs. “Why did you come back to Dunnaglas, Rhys?”
“For you. Oh, I belong here, want to see the Castle is taken care of, find where I need to go with my life. I’d finally like to do what I always wanted, restore the family records, perverse the past. I can finally afford to follow that dream. But it’s you that pulled me here.”
“I didn’t think you recalled the kiss.”
He smiled, “Oh, I recalled it…deep in the night…in my dreams.” His hand reached out and touched her cheek. “I love you, Dara. Took a while to fully understand that. Then life was
too blood complicated. I feared you’d moved on. I’ve read your books you know.”
“My books?” Her cheeks burned red. “You really read them?”
“All of them. I guess that’s why I feel so close to you. I see of lot of your heart in the books, a lot of your dreams.” When she looked down, his crooked finger lifted her chin forcing her to meet his gaze. “I see a lot of me in those books, too.”
“Rhys…please don’t play games. I couldn’t take it. I’d die."
“No games, Dara. I want my life back. My life. Not what my grandfather decided was best, or what my mother shamed me into through guilt. I finally have things back on track―but I need you. I lived too long in a cold, loveless marriage that I never wanted. I want magic, I want to know someone loves me, that I count.”
“What happened? I heard you left the business, gave it up after the divorce.”
“Gave up? Yes, I guess I did. There was a hostile take over of the company I helped build, to take into the 21st Century. When the blood bath was over, I lost the company, but was very rich because my stock tripled nearly overnight. The new owners wanted a new CEO so they offered me a golden parachute, which I took without looking back.”
“I’d think they’d have wanted to keep you to stay on, since you built the company, knew it better than anyone.”
“The new owners figured I wouldn’t work well with them and their vision for my company. You see, my ex-wife and her lover were heading the takeover consortium.”
He grinned. “Yes, ohhhhhhhhh. I started to stay and make their life a living hell. Then I didn’t see anything to hang onto, a reason to go on. When they offered to golden parachute, with a bonus to get hell and gone, I jumped at it. I was tired, had no personal life. The business took too much from me, I lived for it. St. Johns Ltd. is a cold mistress, love. I kept my stock so I can be a thorn in their sides come stock voting, only I wanted to go some place and find myself. Me. Not Rhys St. John, CEO of St. Johns. I went for a long walk, thinking. Stopped before this pub and looked in the window like reflected like a mirror. I didn’t know who I was, what I liked in life, where I wanted to be five years from now. That’s how I ended up with Elvis. While I stood, trying figure out who I really was, he waddled up. Thin, hungry, shaking from the cold. He seemed about as lost as I.”
“Why else? Elvis the King…uh hun. The bloody beast went from grateful for shelter,
food and a few pets, to running my life. Also, because the pub was playing Blue Christmas on the juke box when I found him.” He reached out and petted the smug cat. “I’ve been wanting to approach you for last couple of weeks, but I was still finding myself. Your glaring at me like I crawled out from under a rock wasn’t encouraging either, lass.”
Dara leaned against the couch to be closer. “I thought you didn’t remember me. My heart was breaking. How did you expect me to look?” She chocked on a snob, trying to keep the tears in.
He cupped the side of her face, his thumb stroking her eyebrow. “If I died tonight, the last thought I’d have would be your eyes. I’ve found it’s never too late, Dara Seaforth. Life, fate, people pushed us away from each other. Those nines years between us that seemed too wide to bridge fifteen years ago, doesn’t matter anymore. Strange isn’t? Oh, sweet lass, what better way to start Christmas Eve than with each other?”
The cat pushed between them and meowed. They both chuckled and petted him.
“And with Elvis.” He took her hand and kissed the finger where he’d place a wedding ring. “Marry me on Valentine’s Day in a big wedding at the castle. We can invite the whole village, all your family. Until then, come live with Elvis and me and be my love, my life. You can write sexy romances while I translate obscure Gaelic poetry. We can be so happy.”
A smile finally cracked at the corner of her mouth. “Are you really naked under that
“Unwrap me and find out. I’m your very own personal Christmas present.”
© Deborah MacGillivray