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“You can’t be serious. You must be out of your mind!”
Running his finger along the length of the smooth, tanned skin of her leg, he gave her a small, almost distracted smile and a hint of a chuckle when she jerked her leg away in apparent distaste. “Au contraire. I have never been more serious in my life. It’s time for a man of my position and means to settle down, and you are the one I have chosen.”
The stunned, horrified look on her face amused him. They were both on her father’s beige leather sofa in his study, she having just awakened from her sleep after last night’s Valentine party. She was still dressed in that gorgeous satin yellow dress, her high heels carelessly lying on the plush peach-colored carpet, close to the sofa after she kicked them off before exhaustion claimed her.
That was where he found her when he realized that she was no longer among her father’s guests at the party. He casually strolled from room to room until he came upon the study. He opened the door, and the most precious sight met him, causing him to freeze in his tracks while his heart sped on. Before conscious thought possessed him again, he found himself kneeling right next to the earthbound angel, observing her as she slept. He had no idea how long he gazed upon her peaceful, resting visage. All he knew… indeed all he could feel… was the strange mixture of love, desire and yearning coursing through his veins, a mixture unlike any he had ever experienced before then.
A look of confusion crossed her lovely face, and the only thing she apparently could think of to say was, ‘Why?’
Oh god, he thought,why indeed. She was certainly beautiful, but he had bedded women more beautiful than her. Intelligence… yes indeed, she had that in spades, but he had known women as intelligent as she was.So what was it about her?
Lowering his gaze, he paused for a while, before raising his head to look into her warm brown eyes, the color of smooth milk chocolate. “Why do I want to marry you, or why did I choose you?”
“Yes… to both,” she replied, locking her steely gaze onto his. “Why me?”
“Because my dear, I want to love you, to breed you, and make you mine. But above all that, I want nothing better than to make sweet, passionate, heartbreaking love to you, until the only name you’ll ever call out is mine, from the very first time, until the day you breathe your last.” He let out a long, slow, steady, deliberate breath, his eyes closed as if in meditation. “Sooner or later, before you even realize it yourself, you’ll be craving my touch, yearn to feel my breath on your skin, die a thousand little deaths when you hear my voice in your ear, and shudder with the most intense, unbearable pleasure whenever I’m in you. You will be begging me to come inside you, just so you can feel the warm, slow trickle of my desire as it seeps out of your body. You will also be begging me to take you like a whore, for as often as I want, as long as I want and believe me, sweet lyrical Lyra… I will be more than happy to.”
“Oh god, you’re not only sick, you’re insane,” she proclaimed, hugging her legs to her body, as if shielding herself from him.
“Maybe so, sweet one. Maybe so, but take heed. I have already discussed this matter with you father, and he has no choice but to honor his word. You’ll be mine before the weekend is out, my very own Valentine bride.”
Getting off the couch, he was almost to the door of the study when he heard her ask, the confusion obvious in her voice.
“Honor his word? Wait… what do you mean, ‘honor his word’? And what do you mean he has no choice? I… I don’t understand…”
Pausing at the door, he fingered the knob thoughtfully before turning to look at her. “Ask him.”
The words hung in the air long after Spencer McClintock left the room. Their entire conversation blazed in her mind, and she still could not make sense of it. Marry… him? Her dad having no choice but to agree to this madness? What the hell was going on? It was as if she had gone to sleep, and awoken to find the entire world gone insane.
The early rays of daybreak signaled the dawn of a new day, along with the scent of a fresh morning. She breathed in deeply, and picked up another scent. Looking down at her chest, she noticed, for the first time, that she was clutching a man’s suit jacket. Her encounter with Spencer, and the shock of his announcement made her unaware of the fact that he had, sometime while she was sleeping, shielded her from the cool night air with it.
Lyra breathed in the scent from the jacket again. Yes, it was definitely his scent. It was tasteful, imperceptible unless you stood close enough to him, and elegant, just like the man himself. There was also an almost fearsome sensuality about it that whipped about her senses and made her heart beat faster… exactly like the man himself.
Deciding that she needed to find out precisely what ataşehir escort bayan was going on from her father, she got off the couch and put on her shoes, sliding Spencer’s jacket onto the couch. At this time of the day, her father was already up, greeting the new day by swimming a few laps in his swimming pool.
Ask him? You damn right I will, she thought, marching towards the door with purpose. She didn’t know what the hell was going on, but she was going to find out.
“You’ll be mine before the weekend is out, my very own Valentine bride.”
Oh god, she thought in panic, as those particular words of his returned out of nowhere and struck her with a sudden realization. “That’s today.”
Lyra found her father, Malcolm Hennessy, exactly where she knew he would be, swimming laps in the pool by the garden. The decorations from last night’s Valentine’s party were still up, and evidence of the party left its mark all over the place. Her father caught sight of her, waved, and swam towards the edge of the pool and easily hoisted himself up onto the tiled floor.
“Hey baby girl,” he smiled, giving her a peck on her cheek. By the expression on his face, she knew he guessed the reason she was there. “I gather there’s something you want to talk to me about.”
“You think, daddy? You’d think, with a life-changing event like my very own marriage, you’d at least let me in on it,” she replied coolly. She saw her dad pause in the middle of wiping himself dry with his towel.
“Baby, I didn’t… he didn’t give me much of a chance either,” Malcolm sighed. “He saw you at last night’s party, and… asked for your hand. I couldn’t turn him down.”
“Couldn’t turn him down?” Lyra shook her head in confusion. “What do you mean you couldn’t turn him down? And what does he mean by you not having any choice, that you have to honor your word?”
“Lyra, I’ve known him for years. He’s a good man, and an excellent match for you.”
A short, hysterical laugh escaped Lyra before she caught it. “A good man? A good man? Daddy, do you know the things that lunatic was saying to me earlier? Tell me… what the hell is going on? I can’t be the only sane person alive. Tell me you didn’t just sell me off to that madman. Please?”
“I didn’t sell you off.”
“Then what did you do?”
Malcolm looked at his daughter, at a loss for words for the longest time. When he finally spoke, he said, “He reminded me of a promise I made him, a long time ago, baby. Believe me, if it were anyone else, I’d tell them to go to hell. The truth is, even if it weren’t for what he did for me, I’d still think he’s an excellent match for you.”
“What did he do for you, daddy… save your life?” She asked sarcastically, one eyebrow arched.
“As a matter of fact, he did,” he nodded in affirmation. “Mine… and yours.”
“It’s true, Lyra. You were just too young to remember. He not only saved my life, but yours too. An inch to the left and the bullet would have hit his heart.”
“Someone tried to kill us,” Lyra said slowly, more as a statement of fact. “And Spencer got in the way.” She frowned, as if recalling a long forgotten memory.
“A month in intensive care, and a few months after that in physical therapy,” Malcolm continued. “He was on my security detail, a young man then, but damned good at what he did. I took care of everything while he was in the hospital. During one of my visits, I told him I didn’t think I could ever repay him for saving your life, that if there was anything at all that I could do for him, all he had to do was ask.”
“What I meant then of course, was financially. I was even going to promote him. He refused all my offers; even quit my employ as soon as he left the hospital so he could strike out on his own. Before he left though, he said that when the time came, he’d ask me for one thing, and one thing only.” Malcolm sighed deeply, shaking his head. “And last night, he asked for it. Try as I could, I couldn’t find it in my heart to say no to him.”
Lyra sank down on the lounge chair next to her dad, processing what her father just revealed. They sat in silence next to each other, the only sounds around them the chirping of the birds. Her father reached out to squeeze her hand, and she responded by squeezing back.
“I don’t love him.”
Malcolm chuckled, saw the look on Lyra’s face then apologized. “Oh baby girl, you really don’t remember, do you?”
“I’m not quite sure, really. I think I remember crying, and feeling really scared when it happened. I can’t seem to remember anything else regarding that incident.” Turning to her dad, she asked, “Why?”
“Because young as you were, you adored him. You followed him everywhere and you were always happy to see him. You probably don’t remember this either, but you asked him to wait for you to grow up, so you could marry him.”
“Yes, just like the song,” escort kadıöy he smiled. “You asked Spencer that in front of me too. I was amused, but that totally caught him off guard. I think that’s the only time I’ve ever seen his face flush that deep a red.”
“Do you understand now?” He gently asked her. “And why I couldn’t say no?”
“When were you going to let me know though, a few minutes before the ceremony? Dad, we’re talking marriage here, not a pizza purchase. And you still don’t know the things he said to me in your study earlier.”
“The things he said?” He smiled. “Was it intense, and strangely exciting? And let me guess… you reacted with indignation but at the same time, you couldn’t help wondering if you’d want him like he said you will.”
“Dad! I don’t think this is something I feel comfortable talking about with you!” Lyra narrowed her eyes. “And besides… how in the world would you know, or even guess, what he said to me?”
“From was this young lady. Give her a few drinks and she’ll tell you her social security number and all about her past lovers. Apparently, she and Spencer ‘dated’ for a while. And if what she says is true, I think you’re in for a very pleasant surprise in that department, where Spencer is concerned.”
“Daddy… stop!” She stood up and shuddered. “Don’t… ewww… don’t talk to me about stuff like that! I mean, I’m not without experience but discussing them with you is just… ewwww…”
Malcolm laughed out loud. “I apologize, honey, but you know I won’t give my baby up to just anybody.”
“Wait a minute, what were you doing plying that young lady with drinks anyway? You weren’t ‘dating’ her too, were you?”
“I thought you just said you didn’t want to discuss such things with me,” he said, amused.
“Well I did. I just…” She plopped down on the lounge opposite her father. “Fine, I’ll marry Spencer. So the wedding’s today, right? Did you already call the minister, the judge, the medicine man, or whoever you two decided on?”
“Judge Andrews, a close friend of both of us,” he affirmed. “He’ll be here this afternoon.”
Lyra buried her hands in her face. “I can’t believe this is happening. I wake up and it’s my wedding day.”
“Speaking of which, Spencer asked if I’d accompany you to Lysette’s this morning for your wedding gown. He told me he should have a few picked out for you by the time you get there. He says you don’t necessarily have to choose one of the ones he picked out, that you could have any one in the boutique, but he’d like you to consider them also.”
Malcolm took her hands in his and squeezed them. “It’ll be all right, baby girl. You’ll see. Everything will be all right.”
“And you know this… how?”
“Because, all those years ago, when Spencer left and you found out, you wouldn’t stop crying for a few days. And last night, he wasn’t the only one that Cupid struck. The arrow hit you too.”
“It did not,” she denied, shaking her head, although her voice totally lacked the conviction of her denial. “I’ll admit I’m attracted to him, but love? Besides, I also called him sick and insane to his face earlier.”
“Really, and how did he take it?” He asked, amusement crossing his face.
Lyra raised an eyebrow. “He took it much like you’re taking it now… with that damned look of amusement. You’d think I was complimenting him or something.” She rolled her eyes when her father started chuckling. “Gee… thanks, dad. Glad to see you’re so cavalier about this whole thing.”
“On the contrary, not at all. This is a very important day for you, baby girl. And I think we should get going if we want to get your wedding dress ready on time.”
Spencer had never seen a more beautiful vision in his life. The woman walking down the aisle was everything he had ever dreamed of, the reason for everything he had ever worked towards, and the one important thought that occupied his mind every single day for the past 17 years. The scar on his chest was the one thing he never minded, because it reminded him of the life he saved, the one life that was precious to him above all others.
During the 17 years he had been away, he still kept in touch with Malcolm Hennessy, who kept him updated on Lyra. Every little nugget of information about her he saved in his mind, carefully guarding it the way he guarded his heart. If the truth be known, his heart had long ceased to be his. It had always belonged to her. He didn’t quite know when she stole it but if he were to guess, it was probably the day she asked him to wait for her, so she could marry him.
The wedding was quiet and simple, with a few people in attendance. It was held in the Hennesy’s garden, which still had the decorations from the Valentine’s party up. The house staff had managed to get together gorgeous bouquets of flowers from various sources and all in all, they did an impressive job. Aside from Judge Andrews, Lyra, Malcolm maltepe escort and himself, there was Lyra’s stepmother, his best friend Jordan who was his best man and his bride’s best friend Keshia, who was her bridesmaid. The bridesmaid who, by the way, thought Lyra was totally insane to go along with all this.
Malcolm handed Lyra’s lace-gloved hand to her, gave him a hug and said in a low voice so only he could hear, “Take good care of my little girl. She’s my treasure.”
Spencer nodded and replied solemnly, “With my life, Sir.” Pulling Lyra close to him, he gave her a happy smile. “And so it begins…”
Lyra gazed thoughtfully into the fireplace while sipping from her champagne flute. She and her brand new husband were in the guesthouse of the Hennessy estate and the nervousness that she’d felt the entire day had finally crept up on her now that they were alone.
“You really don’t have to be nervous, you know.”
Lyra continued staring into the fireplace, unable to help her nervous chuckle. “Can you blame me if I am?” She heard him approach her from behind then felt the warm tickle of his breath on her neck. “This morning when I woke up I was Lyra Hennessy and this evening I’m…”
“Mrs Spencer McClintock,” he finished for her.
“Yes. It’s a little disconcerting.”
“Yet you went along with the ceremony, when you didn’t have to,” he pointed out.
Lyra raised her eyebrows. “Now he tells me.”
Spencer laughed in response and it was a low, sexy, deep-throated laugh. It was also a tad shy and self-conscious, which made it all the more charming for her. She remembered his laugh of course, with the accompanying twinkling in his eye. Even as a child, there was a tenderness about him that she responded to.
This morning’s talk with her father brought back a flood of memories she had not thought about in years. Everything during and right after the failed attempt on her father’s and her life were a blur to her and after Spencer left, she remembered feeling lost, and missing him terribly. She looked at his chest, where she guessed the scar from the bullet was, hidden under his blue cashmere sweater. She tentatively reached out, wanting to touch it, yet uncertain if she wanted to see the physical evidence of the damage it caused him.
“May I see it?” She asked quietly, knowing from the look in his eyes that he knew what she was referring to.
“You’re going to have to, anyway,” he replied, downing the rest of his champagne. “I was going to wait till you were more relaxed before I made love to you.”
Lyra didn’t know if her sudden, rapid heart rate was because of what he said, or the way he said it. Maybe it was both, along with that intense look in his eyes when he said it. They were a gorgeous brown, warm like hers, and magnetic. “Please,” she asked again.
The sudden stillness from the man reminded her of a coiled cobra, waiting to strike. Not at her though. She sensed that he thought she might not like what she was about to see. Setting her champagne flute down on the mantelpiece above the fireplace, she slowly moved closer to him. Her fingers were now gently touching his chest. She waited to see how he was going to respond to that and when he didn’t back away or push her hand aside, she applied a little more pressure to her touch, caressing the skin under his sweater.
Was that a small, shaky sigh she thought she heard escaping from under his breath? She wasn’t sure because her gaze was caught in his, and the world, for all intents and purposes, melted away, leaving them all alone in it. She lowered her hands to his waist, wanting to pull his sweater off, and he offered no resistance, rather, helping her by raising his arms. She pulled it over his head, saw the scar, and her hand flew to her mouth in an attempt to stifle her cry. “Oh no!”
It wasn’t just one bullet that hit him. There were three scars in total, two in his chest, about two inches apart, and one near his shoulder blade. Lyra shook from the sight of them, uncontrollable tears falling from her eyes. “Oh god, I thought it was only one.”
Spencer immediately enveloped her in a hug, quietly comforting her. “Shhh… it’s all right, Lyra. It’s all right. Really, it is.”
“No it’s not!” She sobbed. “You could have died! And for what… my father and I?”
Looking at her sternly, he said, “Don’t you ever think that way, you understand me? It was my job, and even if it weren’t, I still would have gladly taken the bullet for you.” He caressed her hair, kissed her forehead, and held her close. “And yes,” he whispered. “I could have died. As a matter of fact, I was supposed to. The doctors had no idea how I managed to survive but I know.”
“Simple. You,” he replied, pressing his forehead against hers. “It was always you, Lyra. You were the only one I’d come across then who wanted to be with me for me. You were the only one who always seemed genuinely happy to see me. No one else before you ever gave a damn about me. No one but you. You gave me the gift of your smile and your company everyday and it filled that void in me. If I had died that day, I’d have no regrets. None.”
“Oh Spencer,” she ran her fingers over his scars. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry…”
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