The tears that were no longer very far away stung my eyes. “Thank you.”
“I can’t even imagine,” she said. “And I don’t even like my mom right now.”
Reaching out, I touched her arm. Regardless of how I felt about Elizabeth, I wouldn’t wish the regret I had on anyone, especially Ireland. “I hope you work out whatever it is. If I had my mom back, I’d take back a lot of the things I said and did.”
And because saying that aloud made me feel like crying, I excused myself quickly and headed toward the stairs, running down them to the beach, then out to the water. I stopped when my ankles were submerged, letting the sea breeze blow the tears away.
Closing my eyes, I willed the grief back into the box I’d put it in for the day. It was Gideon’s birthday, an occasion I wanted to celebrate because it’d seen him enter the world and, eventually, my life.
I jumped when warm muscular arms slipped around my waist, gathering me back against a familiar hard body.
Gideon set his chin on the crown of my head. I felt his chest expand and contract on a deep sigh when I wrapped my arms over his.
When I pulled myself together enough to speak, I said, “I’m surprised my nana let you escape.”
He gave a short laugh. “She says I remind her of your dad—well, she reminds me of you.”
Which made it apt, I supposed, that I’d been named after her. “Because I won’t let you out of my greedy clutches?”
“Because even though she scares me, I can’t seem to walk away.”
Touched, I turned my head and rested my cheek against his heart, listening to its strong and steady beat. “I didn’t know your brother and sister were coming.”
“I didn’t, either.”
“How do you feel about Christopher being here?”
I felt him shrug. “If he’s not acting like a dick, I don’t care.”
“Fair enough.” If his brother’s unexpected appearance didn’t trouble Gideon, I wouldn’t let it bother me.
“I’ve got some things to share with you,” he said. “About Christopher. But now’s not the time.”
I opened my mouth to contradict that, but caught myself. Gideon was right. We should have renewed our vows today, surrounded by friends and family. We should be celebrating his birthday and being so joyful there wasn’t any room for sorrows and regrets. Instead, the day was shadowed by sorrow we had to hide. Still, there was no point in adding any more unpleasantness.
“I have something for you,” I told him.
“Umm … I’m tempted, angel, but we have too many people here.”
It took me a beat to understand he was teasing me. “Oh my God. You fiend.”
I reached into my pocket and wrapped my fingers around his gift, which was safely shielded by a black velvet drawstring bag. It had a nice gift box, too, but I’d elected to carry the present in my pocket, hoping to be spontaneous and give it to him when the moment was right. I didn’t want to give it to him along with his other presents.
Turning to face him as I pulled the gift out, I offered it on both open palms. “Happy birthday, ace.”
His gaze lifted from my hands to my face. There was a brightness to his eyes I saw only when I gave him something. It always made me want to give him more, give him everything. My husband so deserved to be happy. It was my life’s mission to make sure he always was.
Gideon took the pouch and untied the drawstring.
“I just want you to know,” I began, trying to cover my nervousness, “that it’s crazy difficult buying a gift for someone who has everything, including a good chunk of the island of Manhattan.”
“I wasn’t expecting anything, but I always love what you give me.”
I blew out my breath. “Well, you may not want to use it, which is totally fine. I mean, don’t feel obligated to—”
The platinum Vacheron Constantin pocket watch slid out into his waiting palm, the polished case twinkling when the sunlight hit it. Biting my lower lip, I waited for him to open it and look inside.
Gideon read the engraved words aloud. “Yours for all time, Eva.”
“It can hold a little picture over the inscription. I’d planned for that to be a photo from the renewal ceremony, but …” I cleared my throat when he looked at me with such love, it made everything flutter inside me. “It’s old school, I know. I just thought, since you wear vests, that it might be something you could use. Although I know you wear a watch on your wrist, so probably not. But—”
He kissed me, shutting me up. “I’ll treasure this. Thank you.”