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I TOLD EMIL I WANTED a small, simple wedding with only close friends and family. He agreed.
So how the hell did I get here?
I blame his mother. And Bonnie. And Layla. The three of them conspired to give me a fairy tale wedding when I would’ve been happy with a backyard barbecue.
As I look out the window of Bonnie’s Vermont vacation home to the hundreds of chairs set up in neat rows, my heart starts to hammer. It’s a perfect day for an outdoor wedding. It’s the end of June and the sun is shining, a soft breeze taking out the bite of the heat. Flowers are strung on the back of every chair, with white rose petals lining the aisle.
It’s in the backyard of Bonnie’s home, but it’s no barbecue. Pinching the inside of my arm, I let out a breath. Yep. Not a dream. A year ago, I met Emil at the Summer Ball and the whole course of my life changed. Now I just turned thirty-one, I have a four-and-a-half month old baby, a husband, and two new kids.
And I’m happy.
God, but I’m happy.
It’s sick how happy I am.
I jump at a knock on the door, exhaling when Bonnie pokes her head in. Gripping my silk robe tight around my body, I jerk my head for her to come in.
“You’re supposed to be dressed!”
“I know. I just started looking at everyone setting up and kind of…froze.”
Sticking two fingers in her mouth, Bonnie lets out a shrill whistle. Within seconds, Viviane and her team are bustling into my room. Erica beams at me, winking as she points to a chair. I know the drill. I’m made up, dressed up, and touched up to within an inch of my life…and I love it.
I’m wearing a boatneck dress reminiscent of 1950’s style. Lace hugs my collarbones and upper shoulders, sweeping down in a fitted bodice before flaring out at the waist. I opted for a tea-length dress to show off my pink Manolos.
“Gorgeous.” Bonnie clasps her hands at her breast, tears shining in her eyes. “I’m so flattered you’re getting married here, Dani. You have no idea.”
“It was the only place I could get married. It’s where everything changed.” Where I came to terms with being alone, where I found my strength, where I decided I was going to be the strongest, most badass mother I could be.
It’s where Emil came and found me after writing me dozens of love notes that put a smile on my face every morning.
“Dani, are you ready?” a small voice says from the hallway. Talia pokes her head in, her dark hair twisted in a complicated braid, with a flower crown woven into its strands. Her peach dress sets off the gold in her skin, her big blue eyes piercing and bright.
She’s going to break so many hearts when she grows up. So. Many. Hearts.
“I’m ready, honey.” I smile at my daughter, who stole my heart from the very first moment I met her.
She hesitates in the doorway, then launches herself at me. Eight years old now, Talia is mature beyond her years. She squeezes my waist, and when I kneel to brush her hair off her face, she bites her lower lip.
“What’s wrong, Talia?”
“I want to ask you something.” She nudges her toe into the carpet.
“What is it?”
A blush creeps over her cheeks as she slowly raises her eyes up to mine. She gulps, wringing her hands in front of her stomach. “I was wondering…” She huffs. “See, I know my mommy passed away when I was five. But you’re my new mommy now, and I was wondering if I could call you Mom.” She stares at me through thick lashes, hesitation written over her usually sure features.
“Oh, Talia.” I wrap my arms around her. “Of course you can call me Mom. I’d be honored. You’ll always be my daughter.”
She pulls away, her hands on my cheeks. “Really?”
“Really.” My smile trembles.
“Don’t cry,” she whispers. “You’ll ruin your makeup.”
A wet laugh bubbles out of me and I nod, blinking as I look at the ceiling to avoid ruining Yasmin’s hard work. Then I stand, brush my hands down my front, and look at Bonnie. “Where’s my bouquet? I want to get married now.”
My best friend breaks into a smile and produces the bunch of flowers, then all of us head downstairs so I can tie myself to the man of my dreams.
The ceremony is short, but touching. My kids—all three of them—are in the front row. Ambrose sleeps through the entire ceremony, which is probably for the best. His grandmother dotes on him, showing me a soft side to the scary woman I met a year ago. My son is going to be spoiled rotten, I know it already. Francis and Talia are angels. I do end up ruining my makeup when Emil says his vows, and he brushes his thumbs over my cheeks before kissing my tears away, his own eyes shining.
We do the rings, we do the kiss, and then I’m his and he’s mine, officially. My cheeks hurt from smiling so hard. We make our way to the barn-cum-workshop-cum-reception space and dance until the stars stud the midnight sky and everyone is either asleep or good and drunk. The kids are with their grandmother, and although it kills me to spend time away from my babies, I can’t quite resist the promise of a night alone with Emil. We’ve had precious little time to ourselves since Ambrose was born, but tonight is all ours.
As a song winds down, Emil hauls me into his arms and announces that he’s taking his wife to bed.
That’s me. I’m his wife. His wife. And he’s my husband. Yippee!
We’re not staying at Bonnie’s house. For tonight, Emil rented an entire floor of the hotel in town. He told me he wanted me to feel like I could scream without being embarrassed, because he was going to show me just how happy he is to be my husband. And that would involve me screaming, and screaming loud.
When we walk into the honeymoon suite, where champagne cools in a bucket and flower petals are strewn over the floor and bed, I turn to Emil and wrap my arms around his neck. “I love you.”
“Not as much as I love you,” he growls. His fingers drift over my bare shoulders, my clavicles, up my neck to cup my jaw. His kiss is claiming. It makes my toes curl in my Manolos and my knees turn to jelly. I melt into my man, sighing at the force of his kiss.
Then his hands start a slow exploration of my body, from my jaw down my sides, his thumbs just brushing the edge of my breasts as he wraps his huge hands around my waist. “You look incredible in that dress, Dani,” he says, kissing the sensitive skin below my ear.
His hand reaches my lower back, then shapes the curve of my ass. As he kisses my lips, he claws at the white fabric until my ass is in his palms, being massaged and spread and exposed to the cool air in the room. I shiver against him, my panties already soaked.
My man. My glorious, sexy, beautiful man.
I yelp when Emil picks me up and tosses me on the bed, bouncing once before he manages to pin my arms by my head. “You’re mine now, Dani. I’m not letting you go.” He stands on the side of the bed as I lie on it, heart thumping, loving how he dominates me so thoroughly yet gently.
“Good.” I nip at his lip, which earns me a sexy growl.
Then his hand is pushing up the fabric of my skirt so it bunches at my waist, his fingers finding the soaked gusset of my panties. He exhales and leans his forehead against mine, pushing the lacy, wet fabric aside to feel my soft folds. I let my head fall back, moaning at his touch.
I’ll never get sick of it. I’ll never tire of his touch, his tongue, his sex.
When he slides a long finger inside me, using his thumb to tease my clit, it only takes a few delicious strokes to send me over the edge. He slides another finger inside me as I come, intensifying my pleasure, and soon I’m begging for him. Unashamed to want him. To want more.
And he gives it to me. Still in his tux, with me in my wedding dress, Emil frees his length before scooping me up and positioning me on the bed. He kneels between my legs and gives me a dark smile. “Ready?”
And he drives himself home. I cry out, arching my back, gripping his white tuxedo shirt as he thrusts into me again and again and again. His hands grip the edge of the headboard, body bowed over mine as my legs splay wider, accepting every delicious inch of him.
Mine. All mine.
When he changes the angle to put pressure on my clit while he pistons in and out of me, I fly over the edge with a scream. His hand wraps around my shoulder, gripping me close, and he doesn’t stop until one orgasm bleeds into the next.
Then I feel it. That delicious moment where his body grows tense and his cock gets impossibly harder. Emil Van der Berg, my husband, my lover, fills me up with his seed as he grunts my name like a prayer, then falls down on the cloud of white that is my dress.
I pant, staring at the ceiling as my fingers intertwine with his.
“Let’s do that again,” I say, “but naked this time.”
Emil chuckles between breaths. “Greedy, insatiable woman. Give me a minute.”
I smile and squeeze his hand, then give him five minutes while I stand up and take my dress off, smoothing out the wrinkles and making sure I haven’t stained it. When I turn around and head for the bed, Emil opens his eyes. He takes one look at the teeny-tiny lacy underthings I have on and orders me to lie down on my back with my legs spread.
Don’t mind if I do.