His prediction proved accurate; it was a beautiful day, the most perfect day Bronwyn had ever spent with Bryce. After leading them down to Bronwyn’s gorgeous, sleek, new silver sedan, he told her that she would be doing the driving. He had only Cal on security and—always a consummate professional—the man was keeping such a low profile that Bronwyn was barely aware of him in the discreet black sedan parked a few meters away from them.
A little nervous about test-driving the new car in front of one of the worst backseat drivers that she had ever met, she tried to demur. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t have it, and after strapping Kayla into the baby seat that was already installed in the back, he made quite a show of settling in on the passenger side. Bronwyn rolled her eyes and headed for the driver’s side, prepared for a day’s worth of male condescension from him.
She was rather pleasantly surprised that he valiantly refrained from commenting when she had problems starting the keyless car. He kept a bright smile glued to his face when she ground the clutch and the car lurched forward and limped out of the driveway. She sent a nervous glance at his profile after she had finally managed to get them down to Main Street and could tell that his smile was beginning to fray at the edges after less than five minutes in the car. She bit back an irreverent chuckle before pulling the car over to the shoulder of the road. He glanced over at her in alarm and she smiled at him sweetly.
“Do you want to drive?” she invited, and he grinned sheepishly.
“No, you’re doing fine. I’m sorry if I seem tense. It’s just that since the accident I’ve been a bit nervous in cars. That’s why I have Cal do most of my driving these days.”
“Well, I don’t know where we’re going, so it’s better if you do the driving today,” she said reasonably. “I’ll take over if you get tired or something.” He shook his head placidly.
“I’ll be okay,” he assured her. “It doesn’t really matter if I’m driving or not, I’m still uneasy in a car,” he grudgingly explained, and she could see how much it cost him to reveal that weakness to her. “I’ll give you directions.”
“Fine, but keep the wincing down to a minimum, mister,” she warned. “You’ve always been a terrible backseat driver.”
“What do you mean?” He looked so genuinely baffled that she snorted in exasperation and restarted the car.
Following his directions and ignoring his occasional grimaces and harshly indrawn breaths, she drove them safely to Boulder’s Beach where Bryce spent most of the morning trying to keep Kayla away from the penguins. Bronwyn laughed helplessly at their antics. Kayla turned it into a game, running from her father while she tried to pet one of the many wild penguins that fearlessly waddled around on the beach, completely ignoring his warnings that they would bite. At around twelve, when it was too hot to remain on the beach, they packed up and he directed her to the wine lands of Stellenbosch. Bronwyn was becoming more confident in her handling of the car and was grinding the gears less often, which in turn meant a more relaxed Bryce. They had a picnic lunch in one of the beautiful privately owned vineyards in the picturesque Stellenbosch.
“It’s so beautiful here,” Bronwyn observed dreamily as she tilted her head back to enjoy the sun filtering through the leaves of the giant oak tree that they were picnicking beneath. They were sitting up on a hill that overlooked a vast vineyard. The vines were starting to go vivid shades of orange and red and made the entire valley look like it was aflame in the afternoon sunshine. “And peaceful. How did you know about this place?”
“The family of a business acquaintance of mine owns this vineyard. I cleared this with him.”
“Anybody I know?” she asked, tucking her feet beneath her and rummaging through the picnic basket that he had settled on the blanket.
“I don’t know,” He shrugged. “Cord Strachan?”
“As in Strachan Diamonds?” Her eyes widened. The Strachan family was one of South Africa’s wealthiest and most influential families. They controlled a huge chunk of the diamond mining industry in the country and the latest generation provided a rich source of fodder for local and international gossip columnists.
“They supply most of our rough diamonds.” He nodded. “I remembered that Cord mentioned this place over one of our business lunches a couple of years ago.” Before his accident, of course; any socializing had been done before his accident. The reminder saddened Bronwyn and the awkward silence that followed was entirely her fault. Luckily Kayla demanded attention and distracted them with her antics. Bryce kept the little girl entertained with silly games all through lunch, as Kayla had the natural tendency of a toddler to grow bored very easily. Eventually, after a companionable lunch, Bryce packed them all back into the car and directed her to drive the short distance to a small town called Klapmuts and there introduced them to a place Bronwyn had never known existed.
She stood in an enclosed tropical garden and gazed in awe at the hundreds of butterflies that fluttered around her. It was like watching a garden of wildflowers take flight, and Bronwyn could do nothing but stand and stare, her eyes filling with tears as their wings kissed her face and hair. Kayla was just as entranced. She was in her father’s arms and reached out one chubby hand to try and capture the delicate creatures as they flitted by.
“Oh my God,” Bronwyn breathed, lifting a trembling hand to her mouth. “Oh my God, Bryce . . .” He couldn’t hear her of course; he couldn’t even see what she was saying as his attention was focused on the fragile creatures that were haphazardly darting from flower to flower and person to person. How dare he make this so difficult for her? Just when she had decided to contact the divorce lawyer, he did something so wonderfully tender and so unbelievably sweet. He knew that she loved butterflies, that she had always loved them. She had countless earrings, chains, charms, printed skirts, and blouses with butterflies scattered all over them. It would be so easy to believe that he had planned this day out of some manipulative need to keep her complacent. But when she looked up she found herself charmed by the arresting picture he made with his head tilted back and his eyes closed. He was lost in his own world, enjoying the sensation of the delicate butterfly wings brushing against his face, and Bronwyn instinctively knew that he had done this to make her happy. She stood on her toes to drop an impulsive kiss on his cheek and startled him into opening his eyes. He looked down at her quizzically.