“You’re not sorry, are you, Lily?”
“Sorry? About what?”
“That you married me. That it didn’t work out with Meredith. He could have given you the lifestyle most women dream of. You could have been mistress of Meredith Manor.”
“And all it entailed?” She bent a frown at him. “Please.”
“You’re not disappointed? Even a little? Be honest.”
She sighed in exasperation. “Do I regret missing out on the Meredith mess? Am I sorry that I don’t have that Crystal creature for a sister-in-law? That is, assuming she hadn’t already murdered Sam, my fiancé, the man who also happened to be her own brother? Are you suggesting I might regret not having that monstrous manipulative crook, Stephen Meredith, for a father-in-law?” She stopped to catch her breath and continued more slowly. “Paul, don’t you know me at all by now? Even if the Merediths hadn’t turned out to be criminals, their lifestyle wouldn’t have suited me in the least – I’d have been like a fish out of water. I wasn’t born to wealth and privilege, you know.”
They were lying in the grass in their secluded back yard, relaxed with their legs entwined. He was propped on his elbow looking down at her. She couldn’t discern his expression with the sun shining behind his head. She narrowed her eyes, trying to read him.
“How can you even ask? I love it here, I mean especially here where we live in your perfect house on this secret little arm of the lake with trees and greenery everywhere. It’s so serene and completely private.”
“I just thought you might sometimes have second thoughts about having settled for an out-of-work sleuth.”
“C’mon, Paul, are you serious? I only married the man of my dreams, that’s all.” She chuckled. “You make yourself sound like some down-at-the-heels has-been. What about the fact that you’re the owner of this town’s smartest night spot? I’d say that you’re doing all right.” She gazed at him, loving him even though, as she happily assured herself, he was tall, dark and handsome – sometimes almost too attractive because he caused so many female heads to turn. But he seemed unaware of his good looks – she supposed that, being the man he was, since he hadn’t earned his looks, they were unimportant to him.
“But Paul, since you’ve asked – there is one thing I regret about our home.”
“What? It’s not big enough?”
“Oh, it’s big enough, but it’s not in a valley.”
He was puzzled. “Why would you want to live in a valley?”
“Because then I could be Lily of the Valley.”
He groaned and heard her trying to suppress laughter. “Here I am, trying to be serious and I can’t get a straight answer out of you.”
“Okay, Paul, I promise I’ll be properly subdued. No more jokes.” She caught him smiling, however, when she pulled the corners of her mouth down.
He tried again. “You’re not ever lonely? We’re not really acquainted with many people around here and I was afraid you might miss having more friends.”
“Friends can wait. I’m too busy being happy to get lonely. Don’t forget I still have my job at the university, so I see other people five days a week. And,” she smiled and sang, `I’ve got you, babe….’”
“That you do.” He bent his head and kissed her deeply as she twined her arms around him and he moved over her.
Some time later he rolled over and lay on his back, his heart pounding. “Don’t ever leave me, Lily.”
She flopped onto her stomach and peered at him searchingly. “What a strange thing to say. Of course I’ll never leave you.”
He paused, surprised at himself for voicing such an idea. “I don’t know why I said that. It just suddenly occurred to me that if I lost you . . . if I should ever lose you . . .” He took a deep breath and exhaled loudly. “I don’t think I could ever let you go. It would be too hard to say . . . goodbye.”
“Well, my darling, you’re not about to lose me. Unless you want to, of course.”
“Then it will never happen.” He reached for her hand and covered it with his. “I do adore you, you know.”
“I know.” She’d never dreamed she could be as completely happy as she’d been since she and Paul had been together. She couldn’t imagine being without him. He was the man she’d always dreamed of and their life together was so perfect it was almost too good to be true. She loved him so.