Her kiss made Ambrose feel deliciously dizzy and deliriously happy. “Do we have to stay here a minute longer?” he asked softly. “Can I take your hand and run out the door with you?”
She kissed his closed eyelids.
“I think Raven would be long-distance offended if we left before our guests.” Barbara said.
He opened his eyes.
“We should at least wait until they start filing out.”
“Do we have to?”
Ambrose grinned roguishly. “What if I—” He bared his fangs. “—give them a slight nudge?” He stroked her face. “Would it make you unhappy if I did that?”
Her expression became very serious. “Yes. Maybe they wouldn’t realize that it wasn’t their own decision to get up and leave, but I would know. It would bother me that you would treat my family and friends with so little respect.”
He kissed her between her eyebrows. “Don’t worry, love. I won’t do it. Not if it would hurt you.”
The joy in her giggle.
Her iron will.
Her good heart.
“I never want to hurt you. Never again, my love. So, I’ll be patient. It won’t be easy, but I’ll be patient.”
She smiled. “And I’ll try to be patient too.” She giggled. “Fair warning: I might race you out the door when they all start to leave.”
He let out a surprised laugh. “And if I beat you to the car, what’s the prize?”
“hmmm.” She blushed. “I might tell you where I’m ticklish.”
He grinned. “That sounds like a worthwhile prize to me.”
“Oh, it is.”
His heart nearly burst with love for her. He kissed her forehead. “I love you.” he murmured against her skin. “I love you so much.”
It took everyone a ridiculously long time to finish their conversations, cake, and assorted drinks. But they finally finished all of that. They stopped by Ambrose and Barbara to say their good-byes and additional well-wishings.
Barbara should have won a major award. She smiled. She talked. She didn’t rush anyone. But deep inside, her nerves were vibrating like a struck tuning fork.
I want to go.
I want to just run out the door.
I don’t want to talk to one more person.
I just want to finally be alone with him. My Ambrose.
Such an amazing combination of words — My. Husband. He is mine until death parts us. We will live together. We will sleep together. Our days and nights will always be reversed, but we will make it work out. And I will always love him. Even when things go wrong and we just can’t agree, I will love him.
She gave him an admiring look.
This wonderful, mixed up mess of a man.
“I’ll be your strength when you are weak. I’ll guide and protect you when you can’t see.”
Her words took him by surprise, but his expression softened as she kept talking, “When you’re afraid and the nightmares come, I’ll be there to comfort you. I’ll hold you close. I’ll touch you. And I will still love you.”
“My Barbara. Nothing in this world — no magic, no person — will ever steal my heart from your hands. I look at you and I am amazed. I have found you. After being alone and hurt and rejected—” He took her hands into his hands. “—I have found you. The one woman who has wanted me, who has held onto me despite my faults and failings. I never thought this could happen to me. This bliss. This happiness. I am married. For the first time in my long life, I am a married man. That may not seem like such a big deal, but it is. Oh my darling!” He kissed her hands. “My love. It is.”
She pressed her face against their combined hands.
“I will protect you with my life. I will honor you. I will cherish you and every minute I share with you.” He took a breath to say more, but then a whole group of her cousins came over and disrupted their fun.
Barbara raised her head and gave him an apologetic smile.
He smiled back reassuringly and released her hands.