“The spontaneous, but unmistakable kick beneath his palm startled them both. It was the first time Ford had felt the baby move.

“Oh,” Grace said, her eyes wide.

Ford chuckled warmly.

Leaning down, he placed a downy soft kiss on the spot where his daughter had kicked. “I love you, too,” he assured her, then looked back up at Grace with a hopelessly-in-love grin.

The man was a marshmallow, and his baby hadn’t even been born yet. Reaching out, Grace touched the crease in his cheek. “I hope she has your dimples.”

He scooted back up and gazed reverently into her eyes. His fingers threaded through her hair, then he cupped the back of her head in his palm. “I already know she’ll be as beautiful as you.”

The man had a way with words, but at the moment, she didn’t want to talk. Sensing her need to be intimately close, he kissed her leisurely, taking his time seducing her, until they were both breathless and anxious and naked.

Hard, heated skin slid over soft, bare skin, and a delightful shiver coursed through Grace when he finally pushed deep inside of her and joined their bodies. She craved this man with every fiber of her being, loved every feverish sensation he created with the slow, lazy thrust of his hips against hers.

Moans of pleasure mingled as Ford consummated their marriage in a ritual as old as time, and spent the entire night showing her the depths of his love for her.

In Ford’s arms, Grace found heaven. Within his embrace, she experienced peace and contentment. And as his wife, she discovered complete fulfillment.

Epilogue

“T ell me the story again, Pappa,” four-year-old Kambria said, looking up at her grandfather with big round eyes the color of spring violets. Though she had her father’s eyes, Kambria had her mother’s blonde hair and delicate features. She was a beautiful combination of both of her parents.

From a doorway behind her father and daughter, Grace watched the two of them, keeping her presence a secret. There was something incredibly heartwarming in witnessing the bond between the pair, which had been evident since the moment Kambria had been born.

Since Dr. Chase had been on vacation when Grace had gone into early labor, Ellis Holbrook had delivered his grandchild. Grace would never forget the tears that had filled her father’s eyes as he held the squalling baby in his hands, or her own husband’s overjoyed expression when Ellis had informed them they had a perfect little girl. Together, the two men had cleaned her up and bundled her warmly, though it had been Ford’s deep, crooning voice that had settled his daughter’s cries.

Kambria was crazy about Ford, and had her daddy wrapped around her little finger, as most little girls seemed to learn from the cradle. But Kambria had a soft spot for her Pappa, too, and it seemed Ellis could deny his granddaughter nothing, either.

Ellis shifted the little girl on his knee and smiled at her, making him look young and happier than Grace could remember. “Aren’t you tired of hearing the same old story, Munchkin?”

“No.” Kambria snuggled against his broad chest, which was her way of telling him she wasn’t going anywhere until she got what she wanted.

“Oh, all right.” Ellis sighed, a sound of contentment, and leaned back in the recliner. His hand stroked the top of her head as he began the story that so captivated his granddaughter. “Once upon a time there lived a handsome prince, a beautiful princess, and an evil step-father . . .”

Grace heard a sound behind her and turned to see Ford approaching. She put a finger to her lips to keep him silent so they didn’t disturb this precious moment, then crooked her finger at him to urge him to come to her. He did, slipping his arms around her waist from behind, and settling his splayed hands on her five month pregnant belly. His warmth and love surrounded her, and she reveled in how wonderful her life was.

Together, they stood there, listening to her father weave the fairytale that had enchanted Kambria since she was a year old. Grace loved hearing this particular story just as much as her daughter did. It was her father’s interpretation of her and Ford’s courtship, with a mystical, magical spin to it. And each time Ellis told the tale, he made it more magnificent and imaginative than before. He combined fantasy with reality to create a whimsical fable of romance and adventure, complete with a sword fight between the evil step-father and the handsome prince, and telling how the prince decided to spare the old man’s life in exchange for his beautiful daughter. The evil step-father became a good person, of course, and granted the prince his blessing as the young man swept the princess up onto his white steed and they rode off to their castle together.”