Jack gave the little boy a smacking kiss on his cute mouth. “Congratulations, Mr. Incredible.”
Ian held his arms out for Mary next. “Baby Adam is little.”
“Yes,” Mary said as she cuddled him, “and he’s perfect, just like his big brother.”
Claudia was glowing with happiness. “I’m so glad you’re both here. We all are.”
“We wouldn’t have missed it,” Jack told her. When Max had called with the news that Claudia was in labor, Allen had offered them his private jet for the flight from San Francisco to Seattle.
Claudia held out the newborn for Jack to cradle, and Adam gazed up at him with big eyes.
“He’s an old soul, isn’t he?”
His sister-in-law nodded as Max settled beside her on the bed and she leaned against him. “That’s why we decided his middle name should be Jack.”
Mary brushed a gentle fingertip across the baby’s cheek, wonder in her eyes. “Adam Jack Sullivan,” she whispered, “you’re a very lucky boy to be born into this extraordinary family.”
Ian tugged her long, dark hair to get her attention. “Me too! I’m a lucky boy, too!”
“We all are,” Jack agreed.
Ethan burst through the door with a flustered—and obviously enamored—nurse hot on his heels.
“I’m sorry, but there are too many of you in here now,” she tried to protest. But when he gave her one of his lady-killer smiles and said, “Please,” she simply turned beet red and fled.
“I hear there’s a new Sullivan.” Ethan held up a bottle of champagne in each hand. “Time to celebrate!”
“Can I open my eyes yet?” Mary asked as Jack helped her out of the car. She knew they were going to be spending the weekend in Lake Tahoe, but he’d asked her to close her eyes a few minutes ago so that their final destination at the lake would be a surprise.
“Soon,” he promised.
His deep voice sent the blood racing through her veins. With her eyes closed, she was deliciously aware of the feel of his palm against hers and his clean, masculine scent.
After she’d taken about twenty steps, he said, “Go ahead, open your eyes. Happy birthday, Angel.”
They were standing just at the edge of the lake on a private bay full of pine trees. All of the winter snow had melted by late May, and the lake was a crystal-clear blue. The blue jays were chirping and the sun was making sparkles dance all across the surface of the water.
“What a beautiful spot.” When she turned to give him a kiss, she noticed he had a picnic basket in his hand. The crowds of famous actors and models with whom she’d celebrated her birthdays in previous years had nothing on a quiet picnic in the Tahoe pines with her husband. “Thank you for bringing me here.”
After they were settled on a soft blanket, he said, “I’m thinking we should build the cabin right in this spot.”
She almost dropped the glass of wine he’d just handed her. “Build a cabin? Here?”
His beautiful grin stole her breath, even before he said, “It’s ours, Mary. Every last tree and pinecone and grain of sand.”
Jack knew she didn’t need expensive gifts or extravagant gestures to prove how much he loved her. Just as she knew he didn’t need any of that from her. But sometimes, she decided as she put down her glass then pulled him closer for a very passionate thank-you kiss, extravagant—and decadent—was exactly right.
“I know you’ll love California, Mama. Please come stay with us for a while.” Jack moved behind Mary to massage her shoulders as she listened to her mother’s stubborn refusal to get on an airplane for a visit to the United States. Barely holding back her sigh, Mary said, “Give Papa my love.” When she hung up the phone, she let the sigh go. “I tried, but she won’t leave home even for a week.”
Clearly sensing her frustration, Jack pressed a kiss to the top of her head. “I loved the time we spent in Italy over the holidays. How about you show me how different your town looks in the summer?”
Hope leaped in Mary’s chest even as she said, “But your workload with the new product line—”
* * *
A few days later, Jack got to show off just how far his Italian language skills had come as he directed the driver from the airport to Rosciano. Six months ago, Mary had been frightened and wary during this trip. Now, she couldn’t wait to see everyone again.
She flew out of the cab and into her mother’s arms, where she stayed for a long while. Finally, her mother drew back and took a long look at her.
“Love has made you even more beautiful, cara.”
“I’m happy, Mama.” Mary instinctively reached for Jack’s hand. “So happy.”
“Good,” her mother said, then gave a pointed glance at Mary’s still-flat stomach. “But a baby will make you even happier.”
* * *
That evening, after the moon had risen, the air was warm as Mary and Jack climbed hand in hand to the top of a hill high above town.
“Your mother was quite eloquent today as she explained how I can be a truly good son-in-law by providing her with many strong grandsons and beautiful granddaughters. Although,” he said with a grin, “she speaks pretty quickly and my Italian still needs work, so I may have filled in the blanks with some ideas of my own.”
Mary had to laugh at her mother’s new focus. Now that she’d had the Christmas wedding she’d always dreamed of for her daughter, Lucia Ferrer was ready for her next big dream to come true: grandchildren. Maybe, just maybe, Mary hoped, a newborn baby would convince her mother to finally make the trip to California.