The Russian's Ultimatum(60)

By: Michelle Smart


Before she could say another word, he kissed her, a gentle pressure that sucked all the air from her lungs.

‘But nothing,’ he said, his breath hot on her cheek. ‘I made the choice to speak to Marat, knowing damn well what the outcome might be. The letter you sent to my mother made a difficult situation easier. She was prepared for me to turn up on her doorstep.’

‘I should never have interfered.’ She turned her face away, tried to break away from him.

Such was his strength that he pulled her down and onto his lap, holding her tightly to him as she tried to move away. ‘You’re not going anywhere.’ His large hands stroked her back with a firm tenderness.

‘I swore I was going to stop trying to fix people.’

‘But I love that you try and fix them.’

She froze.

‘It’s how you’re wired,’ he said gently. ‘When you love someone, it’s with everything you have. And I understand it now, because I know there is nothing in this world I wouldn’t do for you.’

She raised her head to look at him.

‘I always thought love was finite, that people were born with a certain amount they could give. I believed Marat when he told me I was the cuckoo in the nest and that our father could never love me like he loved him. You’ve shown me how wrong I was. The love I have for you binds me more tightly to you than any drop of blood ever could.’

He traced a finger down her cheek. ‘I would give my soul for you and I can’t ever apologise enough for the way I spoke to you in my office. I swear on everything I have that I will never speak to you like that again.’

He meant it. She could see it in his eyes. ‘You were in pain,’ she whispered. ‘That’s why I wrote to your mother—because it hurt me to see it.’

‘Yes, I was hurting, but I should never have taken it out on you.’ He breathed in deeply, inhaling her scent. ‘I was scared. I’ve spent so many years believing myself to be unworthy of love that I couldn’t see past it. That letter you sent to my mother—I can’t tell you how that made me feel, knowing you had done that for me. If I could capture that moment I would cherish it for ever.’ Now his eyes burned into hers, searching. ‘You said on my yacht that if you loved someone you would cherish them for what they could give you and not what they couldn’t.’

‘I love you, Pascha. Sterile or fertile, it makes no difference to me.’

‘I know you do. If there’s one thing you’ve taught me, it’s that love is infinite. Andrei loved me, truly loved me. And if you and he can love this stubborn fool of a man then I know I can love a vulnerable child who’s desperate for a home.’

Pascha couldn’t hold himself back any more. He needed to kiss her. Properly. He crashed his lips onto hers, holding her so tightly, kissing her so thoroughly, being so thoroughly kissed in return that all the tightness inside him loosened.

‘Please, say you’ll marry me? Will you become Emily Plushenko?’

‘Of course I will...’ That familiar groove formed in her brow. ‘Emily Plushenko?’

He smiled sadly. ‘I kept thinking of the butterfly tattoo in the small of your back and what a personal memorial to your mother it was. It made me think. If I can’t restore Andrei’s legacy, then I can honour him personally. I’ve changed my name back to Andrei’s. I should never have turned away from it in the first place. But one thing I don’t want to change is you. I love you for who you are, exactly as you are.’

‘And I love you exactly as you are too.’

Suddenly it dawned on him, really dawned on him, that this passionate, crazy, loyal woman loved him. She loved him. She belonged to him just as he belonged to her. The only thing that bound them together was love.

And as he smothered her mouth in a kiss full of all the emotion pouring out of him, he knew their love would last a lifetime.

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