Chapter 9

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Gareth stopped in his tracks, pulling Gwyn to a halt beside him. The three kids ran ahead to the low wall running the length of the enclosure for international arrivals. Airport foot traffic flowed around them.

"You're willing to have a bodyguard," he said. "Just like that."

"I decided you were right, especially where the kids are concerned. They don't need another run-in with the paparazzi—the school incident last year was quite enough."

"And there's no other reason for your change of mind."

"Of course not."

"Gwyn."

Her gaze slid away from his. He put a hand up to her face, cupping her chin and lifting it.

"What happened?" he asked.

"Noth—"

"Gwynneth Jacobs," he growled, "what happened?"

She sighed. "A photographer," she said reluctantly. "At the dress shop. But Carol got rid of him, and I'm fine. It just made me think you might be right about having someone with us between now and the wedding."

A slow burn began in Gareth's chest. "Your fitting was two days ago. Why didn't you tell me? Why didn't you call me when it happened?"

"Because you would have overreacted?" she suggested. "Like you are now?"

"Damn it, Gwyn—"

"Stop." She put a hand on his chest. "You were out with the kids and couldn't have done anything anyway. Nothing happened. I'm fine, and I'm giving in on the bodyguard idea, which is what you wanted in the first place. Can we please just let it go at that?"

He stared at her, jaw gritted, wrestling with the not-unpleasant desire to rip someone's head from their shoulders at the thought of Gwyn being accosted. Gwyn returned his gaze calmly.

"I'm fine," she repeated. "Really."

Gareth drew a long breath and released it. "I'll call Guy Armand when we get home," he said. "But, Gwyn—"

She placed her hand over his mouth. "This is the part where you let it go."

He pulled her hand away from him, but before he could continue, the doors from the international arrivals area slid open for the first passengers clearing customs. From his post at the half-wall, Nicholas bellowed, "Gareth! Gareth! They're here, Gareth!"

A dozen or more heads swivelled in their direction, and a ripple of recognition swept through those waiting nearby. Anyone who might have wondered at Gareth's identity upon seeing him had just had it confirmed. He sighed as cell phone cameras began pointing in their direction.

"Your son makes it very hard to go anywhere when he announces my presence like that," he told Gwyn.

Her lips tilted. "He's a little unclear on the discretion thing," she agreed. "But there may be a solution."

"Duck tape?"

"Nothing quite that extreme." Gwyn chuckled, and then her gaze turned serious. Hesitant. "While we were waiting in the car for you, the kids asked if they could start calling you Daddy instead of Gareth after the wedding. I told them I would talk to you, and of course, you don't have to if you're not comfortable with the idea—I'm not trying to pressure you or—"

"Gwyn." Gareth managed only her name before having to swallow against the sudden lump in his throat. He looked over at the excited crew awaiting the arrival of their about-to-be step-grandparents. His family. His and Gwyn's. How had he ever gotten so lucky?

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