Once a Ferrara Wife...

By: Sarah Morgan


‘I’ve delegated that task to Santo—’ Cristiano kissed his sister and then stooped and retrieved the stuffed toy from under the bed. ‘Is this what you were looking for?’

Woken by the sound of her father’s voice, Elena opened her eyes sleepily and Laurel felt her insides melt with love as she watched him scoop the child into his arms along with the bunny.

‘Rosa?’ Yawning widely, Elena looked round the room hopefully and Laurel smiled.

‘Come on then. Let’s go and find your cousin and get this party started.’

‘Oh, please let me take her—’ Dani stretched out her arms and prised her niece away from Cristiano. ‘We’ll see you downstairs when you’re ready, won’t we Elena? Your cousin Rosa has already found the chocolate fountain so I hope your mamma doesn’t expect this dress to stay pale yellow for long.’

Laughing, Laurel kissed her daughter’s smooth cheek. ‘Happy Birthday, sweetheart. Go with your aunt. We’ll be there in a minute.’

Elena’s cheeks dimpled and then she was wriggling out of Dani’s arms and running out of the door in search of her cousin with her aunt and the dogs in hot pursuit.

‘Can you believe she’s only two? She’s so confident and happy.’ Laurel watched her go, knowing that the reason her daughter was so secure was that she’d always been surrounded by close family and Cristiano confirmed that with his next words.

‘She’s confident because she knows how much she is loved.’

Laurel turned and saw the file in Cristiano’s hand. ‘What’s that?’

Slowly, he put it down on the bed and took her hands. ‘It’s what we’ve been waiting for.’

Her heart skipped. Nerves danced in her stomach. ‘Really? It’s actually going to happen? I didn’t allow myself to think it. I didn’t even dare ask about progress in case I jinxed it.’

‘Everything is signed and approved. It’s done.’

It had taken two years, unbelievable amounts of red tape not to mention Cristiano’s power and influence, but they’d persisted and it seemed that finally that persistence was to be rewarded.

Somewhere in a children’s home in Italy, a lonely girl called Chiara was spending her last night with no family.

Laurel felt her eyes fill. ‘When can we fetch her?’

‘Tomorrow.’ Frowning slightly, he lifted his hand and gently brushed away her tears. ‘You know this isn’t going to be easy, don’t you? I’m worried you’re expecting it to be smooth and I’m expecting significant bumps, at least at the beginning.’

‘I know it won’t be smooth. Life isn’t smooth, but it’s the bumps that help us find out who we are. And it’s handling the bumps that gives us courage.’ She looked up at him, marvelling at how much she’d changed in just a few years. Because of him, she thought. He made her feel safe. And the knowledge that she was truly loved gave her the courage to express herself freely. ‘For a while I was worried that because we’d managed to have Elena, you wouldn’t want to go through with this.’

‘Not once did that thought cross my mind.’ Moved, she leaned her head against his chest. ‘Do you ever wish we could have had more children of our own?’

‘Honestly? No. I couldn’t put you through that again and frankly I couldn’t put myself through it, either. The worry almost killed me. I’m just relieved that you and Elena are safe,’ he groaned, pulling her against him and hugging her tightly. ‘We have a beautiful, healthy daughter and each other, and another daughter on the way. I always quit when I’m on a winning streak.’

Laurel heard the sounds of happy, excited children playing and tilted her head. ‘Listen.’ Above the shrieks and giggles, Elena’s little voice floated across to them. ‘Do you know what that is?’

‘What?’

Laurel smiled happily and took his hand. ‘I could be wrong, but I think it’s the sound of a happy ending.’

‘Either that or it’s a bunch of children about to destroy the tranquillity of our infinity pool.’ But his hand tightened on hers as they walked towards the terrace to greet their family.