His eyes darkened with interest. He started to rise from his seat, but as the plane broke beneath the clouds, the pilot announced over the intercom that they should buckle their seat belts for landing. Letty smiled.
Then she looked through the porthole window. “That’s not Teterboro.”
Now he was the one to smile. “No.”
Staring down, she suddenly recognized the airport. Long ago, her family had landed here every time they went on a trip. She looked up with a frown. “Long Island? Is there a problem?”
“Wait and see.”
After the plane landed at the small airport, the two of them came down the steps. A town car waited on the tarmac, and his driver and bodyguard swiftly loaded their suitcases from the plane.
“But why are we here?” she asked Darius helplessly in the backseat of the car a few minutes later as it pulled away from the airport.
“You’re really vexing.”
His dark eyebrows lifted. “Vexing?” he teased, then moved closer as he whispered, “Is that what I am?”
Then he kissed her senseless in the backseat, until she was forced to agree rather unsteadily that he did have one or two good qualities, as well.
But she tensed when the limo turned onto the coastal road that she’d once known very, very well. Her suspicions were confirmed as they drove down the same country lane that she knew led to the massive 1920s beachfront estate that had once been her home. She turned on Darius angrily.
“Why would you bring us here?” she choked out. “Just to torture me? You can’t see the house from the road.” She felt a sudden ache in her throat as she looked out toward the gray-blue bay that led to the Atlantic. “The gate is guarded. That tech billionaire is serious about privacy. So if you’re hoping to get a peek of the house, it won’t happen.”
“A month after it was sold at auction. As I told you, I just wanted a picture of my great-grandmother’s fresco. His guard did everything but set the dogs on me.”
“That won’t be a problem today.”
Letty pointed at the road ahead. “See? I told you—”
Then her eyes went wide.
The gate was wide open. Their limo drove right past the empty guardhouse, up the wide driveway to the glorious windswept oceanfront manor that had been built by Letty’s great-great-grandfather, a steel baron named Edwin Langford.
Letty’s breath caught in her throat as she leaned out the car window, and her eyes were dazzled as she saw, for the first time in ten years, her beloved home.
Tears swelled in her eyes as she looked up at the gray stone mansion with its turrets and leaded glass windows soaring against the sky. Looking back at her husband, she breathed, “What have you done?”
He was smiling. “I’ve given you what you want most.”
The limo had barely stopped before she flung open her car door and raced eagerly into the house. Pushing aside the stately front door—unlocked!—she hurled herself into the foyer where she’d played as a child.
“Dad?” she cried out. “Dad, where are you?”
Letty ran from room to room, calling his name, overwhelmed with happiness that somehow, while pretending he was never going to forgive her father, Darius had seen the desperate desire of her heart.
I’ve given you what you want most.
“Dad!” she cried, moving from one elegant, empty room to the next. Memories followed her with every step.
There she had played pirates with her father.
There she had slipped down the marble floor in socks as the two of them competed to see who could slide farthest and make her mother laugh loudest.