A love meant to be...
Hours after they had spoken their vows and spent the evening in celebration with their friends and family, Adam and Rebecca went to their little house on Mill Street. They closed the door and stepped into each other’s arms. In the candlelit privacy of their new home, after years of waiting and sacrificing, Adam and Rebecca finally expressed the full breadth of their powerful love.
“My beautiful, precious wife,” Adam said, cupping Rebecca’s face between his palms. “We have finally crossed the threshold of our home as husband and wife. This is the beginning of our marriage journey and every memory we create will be ours together.”
“That’s right, Adam. And it will be an exciting journey filled with love.” Rebecca slipped her arms around his neck. “Thank you for holding onto me all these years. We have so much to look forward to and to experience together.”
He tightened his embrace. “Starting right here… right now…” he said, and lowered his mouth to hers in a hungry kiss, fusing their union with love and long-awaited passion.
All the years of pent up desire rushed to the surface and Adam struggled to fight it back, to slow down and relish this moment. They’d waited a long time and he wanted to carry Rebecca across the threshold of their marriage with the gentle passion she deserved. So, even though the softness of Rebecca’s lips and the feel of her supple, womanly body in his arms sent blood coursing to his loins, he forced himself to go slow.
As she slid her hands up his back, he felt her fingers twine in the hair at the nape of his neck. He groaned and ran his tongue over her lower lip, coaxing her mouth to open for him. He tasted the wine they had shared at their wedding celebration, felt her tongue join their intimate dance, heard her soft moan as she sank into the kiss.
He knew she enjoyed their intimacy. She had willingly slipped into his arms countless times over the years, and his body had begged him to make love to her, but his conscience and his love for Rebecca hadn’t let him go further. Until now… now they were free to explore this private, intimate side of their love so long denied. Now Adam could show her all the passion that had been burning inside him, that he’d banked and tended so carefully to keep it from consuming them. Now he could let it burn….
Rebecca drank in the intoxicating brew of sensations pouring through her from Adam’s heated touch. Being in his arms was so natural, so right, and so wonderfully exciting. Their past together was foggy, but she knew they’d shared passion and that Adam had protected her from the fire that was consuming them.
In his arms, she felt safe and loved and… wildly alive. As he deepened the kiss, she moaned and pressed her body against his. Adam’s low groan heightened her excitement. He liked that. So did she… and she wanted more. She wanted to please this beautiful man who had watched over their love and protected this moment, this first time, so they could experience it freely and without guilt.
“Rebecca…,” he sighed her name, ending the kiss. The desire in his dark eyes made her breath catch. He slid his palms down her sides making heat pool low in her stomach. “I’ve dreamed of this night, ached for this moment, imagined all the ways I would love you….” He broke off on a shaky breath. “Now that it’s here, I never want it to end… and yet it’s a battle for me to take things slow.”
Her cheeks heated. “To be honest, Adam, I feel the same way. And I have for quite some time. After I started healing and we began courting again, I didn’t just feel our emotional connection, I was physically attracted to you, too. Those feelings were so powerful they embarrassed me. But then I’d look at you and think What woman wouldn’t want him?”
Adam’s slight grin warmed her heart. “I’m glad you find me pleasing,” he said.
“Pleasing?” She laughed and tweaked his side with her fingers, feeling his hard-muscled torso. “I find you much more than pleasing. I find you…” — she paused for a moment, seeking the right words to explain her feelings — “impossible to resist. You’re like a vast, beautiful meadow, Adam. You give me room to run when I need to race through the fields on Star. Your arms are like the willow limbs that shelter me from the rain. I drink from your love like Star drinks from the stream. There’s no place I feel more at home or more alive than in your arms. One kiss from you is like summer lightening racing through my body. I love it… and I love you, Adam.”
“Oh, sweetheart…” He shook his head and gave her a lopsided smile. “I’ve loved you from the first moment I saw you that day in Brown & Shepherd’s. You were so beautiful and I couldn’t believe a girl like you would even talk to someone like me, let alone want to be my friend.”
Rebecca palmed his strong jaw. “Why wouldn’t I have wanted to be your friend? I had no reason to judge you. And as it turns out, we came from similar circumstances.”
“I didn’t know that then.” He lifted her hand and kissed her palm. “All I knew was that I was going to do whatever it took to make you fall in love with me and agree to marry me.”
She grinned. “You knew all of this at fourteen?”
“I did,” he said, his voice and his eyes filled with sincerity.
His declaration was so touching that it brought tears to her eyes. “You’re a remarkable man, Adam Grayson.”
His lips quirked up. “Persistent perhaps, but I don’t know about remarkable.”
Taking his face in her hands, she gazed intently into his eyes. “You made me fall in love with you twice. I don’t think many men would be able to do that, but you did.”
“And I thank God for that every day.” He drew her deep into his arms and sighed. “When I thought I’d lost you, I lost part of myself.”
Rebecca pressed her forehead to his chest. “I’m so sorry for what I put you through, Adam. I was terribly confused and I thought I was going mad because of all those bizarre thoughts and dreams.”
“I know that now, darling, and there’s no need for apologies.” He stroked her hair, then pulled back and looked into her eyes. “I want to move forward with you, Rebecca. Our past is special to me, but the future is even more so. I want to share everything with you. I want to grow old with you, and yes, I want very much to make babies with you.”
Rebecca laughed and blushed. “In hindsight that statement seems highly inappropriate for our wedding vows.”
“Not at all. In fact, I’m eager to set about my task,” he said. The heated look returned to his eyes, and her body responded. Without speaking, Adam picked her up and headed for the stairs.
As Adam carried her up the worn oak staircase, he couldn’t believe this was their little home and that the beautiful woman in his arms was finally, truly his bride. The treads creaked beneath his feet as he carried her to the second floor, but he didn’t put her down until they entered their bedroom. “This is where we’ll spend every night in each other’s arms and where we’ll make all of those babies you want,” he said, gazing down into her beautiful face.
She smiled up at him. “It might be easier to accomplish without our clothing.”
The image of undressing her sent a jolt of heat to his loins and he almost groaned from the strength of the sensation. “Lovely suggestion,” he whispered, slowly lowering her feet to the hardwood floor, letting her body slide down his own. The sensation of their bodies against each other intensified his longing for her.
The answering desire in Rebecca’s eyes and the flush in her cheeks encouraged him. Cupping her face, he kissed her, nibbling at her lips before dipping his tongue into the sweet recess beyond her pretty teeth. Her moan made him shake with need, and yet he didn’t rush.
Although a fire raged inside him, Adam wanted to make this moment last. He wanted to remember each kiss, each sigh, and touch. He didn’t want to rush her or hurt her. Rebecca’s pleasure was of the utmost importance to him and he wanted to give her as much as he possibly could.
After holding such impulses at bay for so long, it seemed a little wrong for him to reach for the buttons on the bodice of her pale pink dress. But they were married now. They were free to make love.
His hands shook as he slipped the tiny pearl buttons through the small buttonholes and parted the soft material. Adam had seen Rebecca in her night rail after her accident, but making love to her had been the furthest thing from his mind at that time. His focus had been on helping to keep her alive and to recover. But now, he was holding his healthy, gorgeous Rebecca, his wife and soon to be lover, and making love was the only thing on his mind.
Moving closer, he slid his hands down her arms until he reached the sleeve cuffs of her bodice. Tugging on them, he pulled the garment over her hands and off her shoulders. Her gaze, full of love and trust… and fiery need, held his own. After she was free of the fitted bodice, he draped the garment over the stool of her mahogany flip top dressing table, the same one she’d grown up using.
The mixture of their furniture in the room was comfortable and symbolic of their commitment to join their lives. His battered footlocker, that had seen him through university and years in Crane Landing, sat in a corner atop the cedar chest he’d made for Rebecca. Together they had stumbled upon the nightstands and sleigh bed being sold by a family who was moving to Colorado. The sight of the beautiful sleigh bed behind her reminded him of what was about to take place and his stomach tightened with lust. Still, he held back, willing himself to move slowly.
As if she saw his hesitation and sought to assure him that she was not only ready but eager to consummate their vows, Rebecca raised her hands and undid his tie, pulling it from under his suit collar. She laid it on top of her bodice, and Adam thought that it seemed perfectly fitting that their two pieces of clothing lie there together, as if they belonged together. The same way that he and Rebecca had always belonged together.
She removed his suit jacket, but instead of laying it aside, she tossed it across the back of a chair with a bit of gusto. “Now your shirt,” she said with a bit of bravado in her voice, but he could see uncertainty in her eyes.
He couldn’t stop his grin. Wrapping his arms around her waist, he said, “You’ll never cease to surprise me.” They swayed side-to-side for a moment while he pressed his cheek against her floral scented hair.
“Good,” she said with a light laugh. She hooked her arms around his neck and gazed up at him, her brown eyes sparkling. “I refuse to let you grow bored with me.”
“That will never happen, Mrs. Grayson,” he said.
The delighted smile that tilted Rebecca’s lips made his heart melt. “That’s right. I’m Mrs. Adam Grayson now.” A sense of wonder filled her eyes. “We’re really married, Adam.”
He lifted her twirled her around and they laughed together. “Yes we are, my darling.” He set her on her feet. “Everyone, this is my wife, Rebecca,” he said, as though introducing her around at a party. “Rebecca is the woman who has filled my dreams and my mind nearly every moment of my life since I was an awkward, skinny boy of thirteen.”
Laughing, Rebecca splayed her hands over his chest. “You’re no longer skinny or awkward, Adam. You’ve grown into a fine, dashing man that I desperately want to kiss me.”
Her touch fanned the fire burning within him and he was lost in the hot desire in her eyes.
Rebecca met his kiss eagerly. His warm, supple lips moved confidently over hers as his large hands splayed over her back and pulled her tightly against him. She moaned into his mouth and twined her tongue with his, completely giving herself up to the intoxicating feelings he evoked within her.
She caressed his shoulders and hard chest before her fingers found his shirt buttons. Quickly, she began undoing them, suddenly impatient as her ardor for him overrode any anxiety she felt. This was her Adam, the man she’d loved for so long, and even though her memory of their relationship was spotty, her heart had known all along that they belonged together. And it was that inner knowing that had stressed her so deeply. To feel so drawn to a man she didn’t know was unnerving and scary and so . . . so dangerously exciting.
Adam had told her that dancing with her was an extension of their connection to each other, and she knew their lovemaking would be like that as well. She was safe with Adam in all ways and exploring this new level of intimacy was wonderfully exciting.
Her breath came in shallow pants as she finished with the buttons and tried to remove the shirt from his shoulders. Something was hanging her up, but she didn’t know what until she felt Adam’s hands at the back of her corset. She couldn’t get his shirt off because he was trying untie her corset ribbon. From his hurried movements, she garnered that her eagerness had touched off his own.
The situation made her giggle.
Adam raised an eyebrow and leaned back to meet her eyes.
“Let me remove your shirt, Adam. Then I’ll help you with my corset.” His answering smile let her know he liked her suggestion. He lowered his arms and waited while she slipped the shirt over his broad shoulders. It hung from his wrists while she studied him. The sight of his broad, bare chest sent a ticklish quiver through her belly. Adam was tall, his body honed by years of hard work at the sawmill and docks. A wall of lean, toned muscle stood before her, driving home the point that Adam was no longer a shy, thin boy uncertain of himself. Here stood a man full grown and in control, a man with dark waves of hair and a strong jaw and dark eyes that promised her a world of pleasure. She dared to splay her palms over his bare pectoral muscles, liking the texture of his short, dark chest hair against her palms.
His groan made her feel womanly… and achy with need. He sucked in a breath when her fingers trailed down his stomach. “Rebecca, you’re not making it easy for me to take my time.”
“Maybe I don’t want you to, darling.”
Heat surged through Adam’s groin at Rebecca’s suggestive remark. His heart thudded against his ribs as he undid his cufflinks, and set them on her dressing table. With two quick moves he slipped his arms from his shirt and tossed it aside.
The appreciation in her eyes heated his blood. He ran his hands over her bare arms and cupped her shoulders as he kissed her long and deep. She answered with moan and wrapped around his waist, her hands pressing against his back.
He couldn’t resist the urge to pull her hips against his and cup her bottom through her skirt. It wasn’t enough, not nearly enough. He broke the kiss and whispered, “Turn around, sweetheart.”
She complied and his gaze followed the graceful curve of her waist, clad in a light linen chemise. His fingers trembled as he untied her skirt and slipped it down over her hips. The delicate fabric pooled on the floor as she stepped out of it. As he stood back up and laid it aside, a feeling of awe spread over him at the vision she made in her petticoats and chemise.
“You are the most beautiful thing I’ve ever laid eyes on,” he said.
Her eyes shone with love.
Her nipples were visible through her chemise and Adam felt the instinctive urge to put his mouth on them. He wanted to kiss every inch of his beautiful wife.
Rebecca untied the ribbon at the waist of her petticoats and loosened the garment so she could slide it down her legs. Adam felt the ache in his groin grow — and the ache in his heart fade. This dark-haired beauty could bring him to his knees. The sight of Rebecca in her pretty, white drawers was a breathtaking moment like watching the sails fill on a vessel taking its maiden voyage. This was Rebecca’s maiden voyage, and Adam would be her captain.
Heat scorched his neck and his hands shook in earnest now as she sat on the bed and he removed her shoes and hose. Leaving her clad in her chemise and drawers, Adam unbuttoned his trousers and shucked them along with his undergarments in one movement.
Rebecca watched in awe as Adam undressed, completely mesmerized by him. She had a rudimentary idea about lovemaking, but this experience was far beyond what she’d ever imagined.
Adam stood before her, naked and virile and as wildly magnificent as a stallion. There was a flicker of uncertainty in his eyes as he closed the distance between them, as if she might bolt. But Rebecca couldn’t resist the intense need to touch him. Laying her hands on his chest, she slowly caressed his abdomen. Fascinated by the texture of his skin and muscle and the beating of his heart beneath his ribs, she grew brave, letting her hands and eyes get to know the man who had loved her so long, her Adam, her husband.
She moved her hand lower to let him know she was ready.
He groaned and hitched his hips forward a little, but clasped her hand and brought it back to his quivering stomach.
Rebecca could only gape at him as he gently pulled her hand away from him.
His chest rose and fell rapidly and his expression was pained. “I’m going to show you how good that felt, sweet Rebecca.”
He gathered her chemise in his hands, pulled it over her head, and tossed it to the floor. The heat in his gaze could have melted a glacier and she was overcome with need for him. Their hands collided over the strings on her drawers.
Rebecca took over and untied the undergarment. She slipped off the bed and slid them down her legs. She stepped out of them and stood full revealed before her husband.
Adam’s tanned, strong hands drew back the wedding ring quilt that Rebecca had made in anticipation of this day.
“Whenever you’re ready, Rebecca.”
“I’m ready,” she answered, moving into his arms. Her heart overflowed with love and heat burned low in her belly.
He swept her into his arms and placed her gently upon the fresh bed linens and fluffy feather pillows.
Placing one knee on the bed, he moved in. “My sweet, beautiful, Rebecca,” he said, lying beside her. He caressed her cheek. “I want to bring you only pleasure. I’ll go as slow as I can and make this as painless as possible.”
“Oh, Adam, don’t worry so. I’m not afraid. I’m eager and achy and I want all of you. Now,” she whispered, pulling him hard against her.
He released a deep growl and buried his face in her neck. He cupped her breast, and a new kind of urgency filled her. She moaned deep in her throat. As his work-roughened palm skimmed over her nipple, she clutched him against her.
He leaned across her, his weight pressing on her as he trailed kisses across her collarbone and down to her other breast. When his warm tongue circled her hardened nipple, she gasped with pleasure. Over and over, he pulled the taut peak into his mouth and caressed it with his tongue and lips while his hand stroked the apex of her thighs, creating a hot, burning need that drove her wild until finally, blessedly, he moved on top of her and filled her hot, aching center.
Rebecca’s cries of pleasure and the quaking of her body as she clung to him were Adam’s undoing. Like a half-wild filly, she bucked beneath him, unbelievably beautiful as she gasped and clung to him. Her heated sheath tightened around him and a high-crested wave of ecstasy crashed down upon him. He let the tempest sweep through him, leaving him gasping for air and depleted of energy, and fulfilled in a way he’d never experienced.
Slowly he sagged down on top of Rebecca, kissing her moist temple before gazing into her eyes in the candle light.
Her breath came in hard pants and her eyes were filled with wonder as she looked at him. “Why on earth did we wait so long to do this?”
Her sincerity made him laugh, and he felt a little pleased with himself. “I take it you won’t mind this part of our marriage?”
“Oh, Adam.” She clasped his face between her palms. “I will take great pleasure in sharing this with you.”
He stroked his thumb from the corner of her lips to the crest of her cheekbone. “That makes two of us, love.”
For several minutes they lay there holding each other, listening to the sound of crickets outside the open window, letting their breathing return to a normal rhythm. Finally, Adam braced himself up on his elbow and gazed down at his wife.
“Have you thought of a name for our first child?” he asked.
“What?” Rebecca laughed, her white teeth flashing, her eyes sparkling. “It’s a bit premature, don’t you think?”
“Not at all,” he said, grinning down at his beautiful wife. “Since we plan to enjoy our marriage bed, my love, then I suspect our first child will arrive promptly. Especially when I have more in store for you tonight.”
Surprise filled her eyes. “Can we do this again? Tonight?”
“That and more, sweetheart. Again and again and again.”
“Oh, my…” Wonder filled her expression and her smile grew. “Finn,” she said. “Our first child will be a boy and we’ll name him Finn.”
His laughter filled the room and he rolled to his back, pulling her on top of him. “I adore you. Now let your hair down, darling…”
For a long, leisurely week they enjoyed their small home and their new marriage. Together they walked the creek and explored all their favorite places in Fredonia, some Rebecca could remember, many she could not, although she found great joy in rediscovering them with Adam. They talked and laughed and visited their family.
For Rebecca, the time was healing and joyful. At one of their many family gatherings, she spent time getting to know Adam’s outrageous aunts and her uncles’ lovely wives. Later, she partnered with her father for a croquet game that they played in the summer sunshine. Adam and his father were their opponents and gave them a tough challenge. While her mother, and Faith and Grandma Grayson looked on, other family members cheered and chose sides. Rebecca reveled in their play and joked with Adam and her parents.
When she and her father finally won their match, he swept her into a hug and swung her in a circle. When he set her feet on the ground, Rebecca was laughing and excitement rushed through her. She gripped his hands and looked up into his handsome smiling face. “Daddy, I… I think I remember you teaching me to dance. I stood on your feet as a girl and you danced me around our parlor. Is this true? Am I remembering?”
His smile fled and his mouth fell open. Tears filled his eyes and he choked out her name as he hugged her to his chest. Seeing her strong father reduced to tears brought her own rushing forth, and she clung to him feeling as if she had embraced a redwood tree. Her strong, protective father would always shelter her. She felt love for him as great and towering as the lighthouse at Crane Landing.
There wasn’t a dry eye in the family, but they returned to their lawn games with joy and a new and deeper bond of love between them. Will, her eldest brother, began to joke with her as he’d apparently done before her accident, which pleased Rebecca and became a fun source of entertainment for the family. Her motherly instinct with her younger siblings felt natural and welcome and she coddled and played with them.
They shared family stories throughout the week that Rebecca listened to with avid interest. She recovered a few more memories, some that made her laugh and a couple that made her cry, but each one a gift she cherished. Although some memories were a bit muddled, and she still wasn’t sure the lady on the beach wasn’t a hallucination, she was hopeful that she would one day remember everything. Until then, she felt a deep sense of peace with whatever her future held.
In the late evenings she and Adam would return to their small home and cuddle together on the sofa. They talked about their future, and Rebecca asked about their past. They enjoyed each touch, each look, each minute of their present as if they might never get another.
Snuggled in Adam’s arms, Rebecca finally asked the question that had been on her mind for weeks. “Adam, what did you wish for that night at Crane Landing when we tossed our pebbles in the ocean?”
“That you were happy,” he said simply.
Her eyes welled with tears to think he’d cast such a loving wish when he could have asked for so much more. “I thought you might have wished for my memory to return,” she said, blinking to clear her eyes.
He shook his head. “I just wanted you to be happy, darling.” He stroked her face with his fingertips. “What did you wish for?”
“That someday you and I would have children together.”
His eyebrows lifted and then a slow smile tilted his mouth. “You never cease to surprise me. You’re like an ocean wave. I think I know how big and strong it is until the thing plows me over. You do that to me with your words and your wit and your remarkable skill at croquet and stone skipping.”
She laughed. “Does that make me undesirable?”
He pulled her into his warm, loving arms. “It makes you even more desirable, my love.”
Laughing, she caught his hand and led him out of the house and to their willow tree. They had survived ten years and great heartache to arrive at this moment in their lives. Rebecca was his ocean—and Adam was the wind that would carry them through their journey together.
Inside their private nest beneath the willow, Adam asked Rebecca if she’d made her decision.
Holding hands, she gazed into the handsome face of her lifelong friend, her lover, a man who would move a mountain for her, and she said, “If you don’t mind, I would like to spend our first year in Crane Landing.”
A delighted smile lifted Adam’s lips. “So would I, darling.”
So when the end of the week came, Adam and Rebecca—and Jojo and her new playmate Bella—returned to Crane Landing, to the pretty little house on the river where a Princess once lived.
Adam and Rebecca would spend their first year as newlyweds, walking the river and the shores along the southern coast of Maine, and their evenings on the back porch of their cottage, visiting with their friends, playing with the kittens, and nurturing their long awaited love. They would visit their family in Fredonia during the Christmas holiday and again in the spring. And when their year as newlyweds ended they would decide whether they would make a permanent home in Crane Landing or return to the beautiful little village of Fredonia where two young sweethearts first fell in love.