the way you look tonight - Page 67

“Were you—” He ran his hands over her bare hips and then the delicate white garters that held up her silk stockings. He was clearly stunned—and extremely aroused—at the realization that she hadn’t been wearing any panties beneath her wedding dress. “You didn’t—”

Though they wouldn’t be opening their gifts for each other until the following day, Mary had wanted to give herself to Jack as an early present. “Merry Christmas.”

He dragged her hard against him at the same moment that he crushed his mouth to hers. And then they were falling back onto the bed, and his mouth and hands were seemingly everywhere at once.

Loving words spilled from their lips in a mixture of English and Italian.

“I adore you.”

“Ti amo.”

“You’re mine.”

They’d shared their first kiss under the mistletoe. Wearing only the tiara of mistletoe leaves and berries, Mary reached for Jack and drew him tightly against her as they came together for the first time as husband and wife.

* * *

When she woke cradled in his arms hours later, there was a small wrapped box on her pillow. Outside the curtains, moonlight streamed in over them, and the cold winter breeze rustled the leaves on the lemon and orange trees in the courtyard beyond their private suite.

Jack shifted them so that the pillows were behind her as he handed her the box. “You gave me your gift earlier, now it’s time for me to give you mine.” When she tore at the paper, he laughed and said, “So I was right—that is how you open presents.”

Mary lifted the top from the box and, when she saw his gift, the tears she’d barely managed to hold at bay all day finally spilled down her cheeks. Lifting the delicate Christmas ornament out of the box, she marveled at the workmanship and artistry that had gone into creating the porcelain angel.

“That day in the diner, when you called me Angel for the first time—” She looked up at him through the tears that clung to her eyelashes. “I was already yours.”

“And I was yours.”

The clock in the square struck midnight as they reached for each other again to start the first new day as husband and wife with heat, passion…and unconditional love.

A love that would last forever.

Epilogue

January

Mary laughed out loud as Jack swung her up into his strong arms on the sidewalk in front of their new home in Palo Alto, a suburb thirty minutes south of the city and five minutes to his new office building in the heart of Silicon Valley. She wound her arms around his neck and marveled, for what had to be the thousandth time, that he was really hers.

“Our new neighbors are probably looking out from behind their curtains wondering about the crazy new couple on the block.”

“Crazy in love,” he said, before really giving the neighbors something to talk about by kissing her passionately.

Breathless by the time he lifted his mouth from hers, it took her a few moments to realize he was carrying her up the front walk. He took the key from her and unlocked the door.

“Ready to move in, Mrs. Sullivan?”

Lord, how she loved him…and it thrilled her to pieces every time she realized she was now a Sullivan, too.

This time she was the one kissing him in full sight of the neighborhood before replying, “Take me home, Jack.”

Her heart filled with joy as he carried her over the threshold and into the living room. Slowly, he put her down, making sure her curves slid against his hard muscles in as many places as possible.

“When are the movers coming?” she asked in a voice made husky with the need that just grew stronger every day they were together.

“In an hour.”

She was already pulling his shirt up as she said, “That’s plenty of time to christen our house properly.”

Jack’s hands got just as busy stripping off her clothes and they were both nearly naked when he remembered to lock the front door and draw the drapes. As he moved back across the room to her, yet again, Mary was struck by his incredible male beauty. Every time she saw his broad shoulders, rippling abdominal muscles and long, strong legs, she lost a little more of her self-control.

A beat before he reached her, she leaped on him, wrapping her arms and legs around him. He responded by lowering her to the soft carpet…and kissing her senseless.

An hour later, when the movers came, they were fully dressed again and giddy as two naughty children who had gotten away with sneaking into the cookie jar. Mary directed the placement of the furniture while Jack supervised the unpacking of his home office so that it very closely resembled the old garage he and his partners had worked out of for so long.

After the movers left, Mary and Jack walked hand in hand out through the French doors to the backyard. He gathered her against his chest. “One day, I’m going to build a tree house with our children in that big oak.”

She leaned her head against his shoulder as she looked up at the sky through the leaves. “And we can have Sunday lunch under the shade of the branches, just like my mother used to put on every weekend when I was a child.”

It no longer hurt to think about Italy, and Jack loved to hear her tell stories in Italian as he became more and more fluent in her native language. But though she’d loved rediscovering her childhood town during Christmas, she knew she was exactly where she was supposed to be.

Mary Sullivan was finally home.

February

Jack had been making Valentine’s Day plans for weeks. As soon as Mary woke, there would not only be dozens of roses waiting for her in every room of the house, but he’d also have a plate of piping-hot heart-shaped pancakes ready to serve to her in bed. They’d follow that up with a leisurely boat trip up the Bay into San Francisco, where they’d have dinner at a swanky restaurant and then close out the night dancing.