“Hmmm, whose idea was that again?” she asked quizzically.
“Just say the word and we don’t have to do it, baby.” I was serious, and would pull out of the whole thing if it was truly what Brynne wanted, but man, my sister would kill me over and over again for it.
“No, no, no, Mr. Blackstone. You ordered this posh event with royalty and dignitaries coming to eat the gourmet food, and drink the expensive champagne in your sister’s historic country manor house.” She raised an eyebrow. “And now you must deliver all those goods.” She plucked at my shirt. “We reap what we sow.”
“Besides, I want to see you standing at the end of the aisle waiting for me, looking handsome with those blue eyes of yours only for me.”
“You’ve got that f**king right—only for you.” I kissed her thoroughly, tasting her deliciousness and thinking I had the rest of my life to enjoy it.
She grinned and shook her head a little at me. “Your filthy mouth . . .”
“You love the things I do to you with this filthy mouth.”
“Mmmm, I so do.” She grinned. “You’re right, Mr. Blackstone.” She smoothed the spot on my shirt she’d just been plucking at, making me smile. Brynne did that a lot when she was explaining her feelings as she was right now. I thought it incredibly sexy, but then everything about her was sexy to me. Especially since it had been far too many days since I’d been inside her. Only forty-eight hours more of this no-sex nonsense—thank f**king Christ. And then? Well, it’d be HoneymoonLand, here we f**king come! Lots and lots of coming would definitely be happening on that trip too. Italian villa along the coast, secluded, private— nothing but time to make love, eat, sleep, swim in the ocean and make more love. I could probably do that for the rest of my li—
“Plus, I got a pretty new dress and a veil for this hoedown.” She looked up at me and winked. “You paid for it.”
“Hoedown? What kind of Yank word is that?”
“An appropriate one, actually. It means a country party with dancing and fiddles.” She did a quick air violin gesture for me. “I know this thing is most definitely happening in the country, and you’ve got David Garrett coming—there is no fiddle player hotter than him, by the way—and I’m not merely talking about his musical ability here, Blackstone, so yeah, we got us a big ole hoedown to get to. You’d better start moving your sexy British arse and get us on the road.”
“So you’ve got some fancy for David Garrett, now do you?”
She pretended to consider, giving me a wicked gleam and tapping her chin with a finger. “A lady never tells.”
“Fucking fabulous! My wife is about to throw me over for the fiddler at my own wedding! Absolutely brill.” I pulled out my mobile. “Excuse me, I need to call David Garrett and uninvite him to our wed—”
“Don’t even think about it, buster,” she told me sternly, “if we’re having all these celebrities at the wedding I should get to choose at least a few of them! It’s only fair.”
I pretended to be jealous. “So you’re going through with this whole high-profile nonsense because of the fiddle player?” My question was in jest, but there was some definite truth to it.
Ironic how the plan I’d set into motion only for her protection and safety had turned out to be unnecessary in the end. Brynne didn’t need the high-profile celebrity status anymore because her stalker was dead, taking the eternal punishment he so richly deserved.
We never did find out exactly what happened to Karl Westman, but I had a really good theory. After my dad had driven us away from the scene, Neil, Ivan and Len stayed back to investigate. My first priority was to get Brynne to safety above all else, and I’d seen plenty of dead bodies to recognize one when I see one. Westman was killed instantly by a high caliber bullet to the head.
What happened there was strange, though. I’d worked it out for the most part and highly doubted there would ever be confirmation from the senator, but Ivan had told me that when he went looking to retrieve the arrow he’d fired, somebody had taken the body away. It was just gone in a matter of moments. Only professionals are capable of that kind of operation. Neil and Len sniffed around again the next morning when it was light and there was nothing there. Even the blood was washed away. No trace of anything.
Brynne had mentioned how the whole place was eerily quiet and that she’d never seen another person at the hotel, which made no sense with the Games happening. So that pretty much confirmed there were people involved at the highest levels. U.S. Secret Service, most likely. Westman was a dead man before he ever took Brynne from the flat.
Disaster averted, but still, far too f**king close for my comfort. This whole mess had happened for a reason. Very strange, but true. The knowledge that if Westman hadn’t started stalking her, we wouldn’t have met, or ever gotten together, or be about to marry and have a baby. It was all just a bit much to rationalize sometimes, even if it was our reality. I tried not to think about that part. Brynne was free to live a regular life now, with nobody out there plotting to take her away, or harm her, or bother with any aspect of her, and this was my greatest gift. Thank the heavenly angels . . . and one very special angel in particular.
“Ethan!” She was frowning at me.
“Yeah?” I asked, rubbing my thumb between her brows to smooth out the lines of her frown.
“You’re not listening to me. I answered you and you were off in a dream somewhere.”
“I’m sorry. What did you say?”
She gave me a look and then started in with the shirt plucking and smoothing again. “What I was saying was that . . . I would go through a hundred of these ridiculous celebrity weddings if it meant I was marrying you.” She lifted her brown/green/gray eyes up to mine. “You’re so worth it, Mr. Blackstone.”
It was a good while before we got on the road up to Hallborough.
Two days later . . .
Ben and I watched Simon from the rose garden and hoped he didn’t spot us. In his very green Milanese bespoke suit, he arranged guests for candid shots in all sorts of crazy avant-garde positions.
“God help us if these pictures he’s taking get out to the general public. We’ll all be royally f**ked—quite literally!” Ben said dryly, nodding his head toward the naughty antics of a certain ginger-haired prince and his unidentified date. “Why on earth did Ethan hire Simon Carstairs to do the wedding pictures?”