“You were always so easily distracted from work,” she reminisced. “Like the time you flew me to Mauritius for a long weekend, completely forgetting about that important conference call you had on the Monday.”
“I have no regrets.” He shrugged. “That was a hell of a weekend.” They had spent most of it naked on a private beach.
“Pierre was furious with you,” she recalled.
“He got over it. Besides, we were newlyweds, he understood.”
“We’d been married for more than a year,” she corrected.
“Your point being?”
“Do you remember that street performer who followed us from the marketplace back to the hotel?” she asked, and his eyes lit up with laughter at the memory.
“He wouldn’t stop his horrendous serenading the entire walk back.”
“You begged him to stop, bribed him, and offered to put his unborn children through university,” she said, giggling.
“I don’t think he understood my high-school French,” Bryce laughed.
“He was awful!” they both said in unison before lapsing into an awkward silence.
“We had some good times, didn’t we?” he asked after a few minutes.
“The best times,” she agreed.
“Don’t you think . . .”
“Bryce.” She stopped what he’d been about to say with a slight shake of her head, and his voice faded. He cleared his throat, shifting the weight of his now-dozing daughter until she rested more comfortably against his chest.
“So, you’re free tomorrow?”
She nodded in answer to his question.
“Well, I’ve selected a few flats for you to view tomorrow. I’ll shift the appointments to the morning, so you can have the afternoon free.”
“Thank you.” There was really nothing more to be said after that.
Of course, each place he drove her to was more extravagant than the next. Accommodation in Camps Bay didn’t come cheaply, and judging by the sizes of the so-called townhouses he took her to, none of the places would range anywhere under eight figures. Since they were remaining in the area, he’d told Cal that he wouldn’t be needed, and for the first time the family found themselves completely alone. It was an almost novel sensation for Bronwyn, who had gotten so used to the silent, hovering presence of the security guys that she felt inordinately exposed without them at first. But she soon got caught up in the whole flat-hunting experience
“Bryce,” she finally spoke up when she found herself standing in the living room of the third mini mansion he had taken her to. “These places are all much too big.”
He frowned at that and shook his head.
“I chose them because they all have both ocean and mountain views,” he explained quietly. “I know how much you love both. And this one has a patio and garden. You enjoy gardening. You haven’t had much time for it recently, but at least you’ll have the option. The next place on the list has a garden and a secure playground for Kayla. The pool is fenced in and there is ample room for a pet if you ever decide to get that dog you’ve always wanted.” She hadn’t known that he had personally researched every place that he was showing her. She had assumed that he would pass the task off onto his assistant, but the level of care and consideration he’d put into this task, despite his clear reluctance to have them move out, was touching. She didn’t know what to say and swallowed heavily before turning away to shakily caution Kayla not to run too fast as the little girl careened from empty room to room.
“The master bedroom will get the sunrise in the morning,” he continued after clearing his throat awkwardly. “And the living room gets the sunset. I thought you’d like that.”
“You didn’t have to go to so much trouble, Bryce. I know that you don’t want us to leave. I didn’t expect you to put so much work into this.”
“If you really have to leave me again, Bron, I want to know that you’re safe, happy, and well taken care of. This is the only way I know to ensure that.” She bit her lip uncertainly and he rewarded her with a grim smile before showing her the rest of the spectacular flat. By the time twelve o’clock rolled by, he’d shown her seven places, each one less than five minutes’ drive away from his house. He clearly meant to keep them close by.
“I chose this one because I thought you’d like this,” he told her as he led her to the second floor of the last place. It was an enormous duplex with panoramic views, a garden, a huge kitchen, four rooms, three and a half bathrooms, and a second-floor balcony that opened up from the main bedroom and overlooked the ocean.
He opened a door on the second floor and stood aside to let her enter, and Bronwyn’s breath was sucked out of her body at the emotional sucker punch he’d just dealt her. It was a small, beautiful conservatory. Two walls and half of the ceiling were made entirely of glass, one side facing the ocean and the other the mountain. It was absolutely beautiful. Her eyes flooded with tears as she realized that Bryce had chosen this place because he knew how much she would miss their conservatory when she moved out of the house.
“Do you like it?” he asked, standing behind her as she automatically walked toward the window overlooking the aquamarine ocean.
“It’s beautiful,” she whispered hoarsely, blinking back tears, before realizing that he couldn’t see her lips. She nodded, keeping her back to him.
“I knew you would.” His voice sounded empty and she turned to see him reach for his cell phone and tap out a message to someone. Once he’d completed it, he looked up at her with shadowed eyes.