Lorna found she couldn't breathe, his question being so sudden. Was he really serious? When they talked about marriage previously, she had thought it was just idle talk. Now she looked into his eyes and knew the answer, and found herself saying, "Oh, yes, Gypsy, I'd love to."
Gypsy smiled and lifted one of the candles to hold it between them. "I, Gypsy Diaz O'Riley, do make my pledge to you, Freda Lorna Bassett, in the presence of these two witnesses, Terry Gumbly and Erica Diaz O'Riley Royle, to take you as my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, to honour and keep you, to love you and cherish you. In the presence of Almighty God, our Heavenly Father, I make this vow."
He handed the candle to her and waited for her to respond, and with a shaking voice, she said, "I, Freda Lorna Bassett, do make my pledge to you Gypsy Diaz O'Riley, in the presence of these two witnesses, Terry Gumbly and Erica Diaz O Riley Royle, to take you as my husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, to love and cherish you, to support you in all you do, and be a loving mother to your daughter. In the presence of Almighty God, our Heavenly Father, I make this vow." The last few words were hard to say as tears of happiness trickled down her cheeks, and as Gypsy placed a tender kiss on her lips.
Surrounded by the flashing and clicking away of Terry's camera, he enfolded her in his arms. While Terry explained to Erica what was going on, Lorna clung to Gypsy and never wanted him to let her go. But Erica had other ideas. She forced her way between them and reached up for a cuddle, not from his father but from her new mummy.
Terry opened his camera to change the batteries and memory card. "You do realize, of course, that you're not yet legally married."
"Not from a civil point of view," Gypsy replied, hugging both Lorna and Erica, "but in God's eyes we are."
"Really?" Lorna leaned back a little, the better to look at him.
"Oh yes. We've made our vows to God. That's how they used to do it in biblical times, if it was good enough then, it's good enough now. It's only church tradition that says we have to have a priest and stuff. Then the government got on the band wagon when they found it a good idea to keep track of everyone, and that didn't happen till eighteen-thirty-seven. At this moment, we're husband and wife by common law; but sometime in the near future we'll have to have a full-blown wedding with all the trimmings. That's if you want to."
"My mother would never forgive me if she didn't get the chance to hold court as the mother of the bride."
"Oh, tell me about it! My family would lynch me. I already have Lucia straining at the leash to be a bride's maid and reminding me every time I phone home that I ought to get married again."
"And me; I want to be a bridesmaid too, Daddy," Erica stated firmly.
Lorna laughed and hugged her close. "I wouldn't have it any other way, sweetheart."
"And I'm free if you need a photographer," Terry offered with a happy grin. "I've done a few weddings in the past and rather enjoyed it."
"Well I suppose I'll have to say yes after putting you through hell with my dogs. You just couldn't see they were playing with you, could you?" Both Gypsy and Lorna laughed at the blank look on Terry's face.
"That was a game? I was nearly shitting myself. Ooops! Sorry Miss Bassett."
"All you had to do was walk away. Come and see." Gypsy led them out of the chapel and whistled the dogs. They came lolloping down the path, pink tongues hanging out of the gaping mouths. "Here, boys; make friends. Good dogs." Within five minutes, all four dogs were firm friends with the bemused photographer, and he promised Lorna and Gypsy not to tail them for the rest of the afternoon. In return, Gypsy gave him the freedom to wander around Chilvers and record an exclusive folio of pictures for his own use; something the magazine and the soap manufacturer had not been allowed to do. Gypsy went so far as to say he would take Terry on his staff as his private photographer, to which Terry happily agreed. After that, Lorna carried Erica the rest of the way back to the house and on reaching the back yard, Erica ran off, bubbling with excitement; to tell Auntie Jo and Uncle Ed she had a new mummy.
After putting the dogs in their cage, Gypsy slipped an arm round Lorna's waist and steered her towards the house. Fully aware that Terry was having a grand time snapping the dogs and their handlers, Gypsy drew her close. "Lorna, I'm sorry everything seems to have been rushed; there is so much more talking to do. Maybe after I've told you everything you'll… well you can't very well change your mind can you? Well you could before the main event, and I will understand."
"No way!" Lorna gave him a peck on the nose. "I realize there is something going on that I will have to know about sooner or later, after what Erskine and you hinted at, at Sheekey's, so why don't you take me somewhere nice and private and just let things happen."
The way she said it made Gypsy look hard at her. "You mean you think I wanted to take you to bed?"
"Well, isn't that why you married me in that chapel?" Lorna laughed at him.
"Well, I…" Gypsy didn't know what to say and felt a blush coming on. "I never thought about it, honest. I've been living like a sexual hermit since the accident, and I've just got used to doing without."
"And there's me thinking you've wanted to ever since we got back," Lorna admonished him in a teasing voice. "Let's go indoors before I get cold feet."
Gypsy shook his head in wonder. "Lorna Basset, you're a wicked woman. I do believe you had this planned. "
"Not really, but there's no harm in wishing is there? My aunt always said Mr. Right would help me get over my frigidity problem, now is as good a time as any to find out if Mr. Right has entered my life at last. Don't you agree?"
Glancing over his shoulder Gypsy saw Terry at the rear gate beyond the cages. "Maybe that's not such a bad idea after all. I know Terry will understand if we disappear for a bit, and I know just the place where he wouldn't dare follow ."
At five past six that evening, Gypsy glanced up at the clock set at an angle above the bed-head. He could see the time without lifting his head off the pillow and disturbing Lorna as she cuddled up against him beneath the silk covered duvet. "Sorry, lover but we've less than half an hour before dinner."
Lorna stirred and sighed with contentment. "Is it that late? I wish we could stay here for the rest of the evening, you do have the coziest bed."
Gypsy kissed her nose then her lips. "We could come back here after the party; I mean you don't have to use the guestroom if you don't want to."
"Mmm! Is that an invitation?"
"Well you are my wife. Just say the word and I'll even cancel the party."
"That would be nice but ever so bad mannered, think of all the disappointed guests. " Suddenly Lorna lifted her head and listened, frowning. "What was that?"
Gypsy listened then relaxed again, smiling. "That will be David setting dinner for us in the lounge next door to save us having to dress and go downstairs. He is quite a guy, is David; he thinks of everything. You'll even find he's anticipated where you will be sleeping tonight and moved all your gear into my dressing room while we got on with more important things."
"Oh?" Lorna said with mock sternness. "Taking me for granted were you?" But the way she wound her arms round him and started kissing him dispelled any doubts Gypsy had about her. He had been so stupid when they had first come to bed; keeping on his bathrobe while not knowing what Lorna's reaction would be to his scars. But Lorna had taken command of the situation, kissing him and sliding her hands inside the robe to touch and caress and explore the damage. Eventually she had persuaded him to slip out of the robe and had showed him that the scars did not matter. Her skin was silky and pale, so different from Shana's duskiness, but remembering Shana had made his passion die within his heart and tears had welled up into his eyes, making him bury his face in Lorna's copper tresses. Lorna had sensed what was wrong and had held him close and told him not to worry, that it would be all right. He had tried to rekindle his passion but nothing had happened till Lorna's hand searched for and held him, not feverishly as at Blackpool but tender and persuasive, letting him know she wanted him while battling her own demons and proving to herself that could overcome the horror of her childhood years. The roles had changed; he was now the virgin and Lorna the lover, till desire blossomed again.
After a year of not being able to and the last two years spent not wanting to, it was heaven and by the time they had reached the stars, the duvet had joined the pillows on the floor. Then feeling chilled they had grabbed the duvet and pillows off the floor, and cuddled together to get warm. Warm and loved, they decided it was time to talk. After the horrific attack, Lorna had led a lonely life, she couldn't talk to her mother, she didn't understand, but her Aunt Beth in Rugby was so different and even introduced her to a woman doctor who had tried to help her over her fear of men; but how could she know she was cured if she hadn't met anyone she wanted to have sex with. At the end of her story she said rather sadly, "Now I know, and I'm quite happy, but I can never have children so what's the point? That beast saw to that."
"T hat is tough," Gypsy had sympathized, "but you have Erica now."
"Yes, I know, and I'll love her as my very own; you know that don't you?"
"Yes, I know, and I love you all the more for it." Then he had told her his own story, and he had talked quite f rankly about what Tony, Don and Sandy meant to him, and then he had filled her in on the details of his early life that she did not already know and what he thought had happened at Northwood. He had told her of the prophecy and showed her the talisman, and had told her how she was involved in his life through that prophecy."
"You really believe all this, don't you?"
"It brought you into my life, didn't it?" He replaced the talisman round his neck. "It looks like another piece of the jig-saw has slipped into place."
Now he rolled over and drew her beneath him. "Do you think you can cope with being the wife of a pop-star? It will be very hard for you at first, all the traveling and living in hotels for most of the time; being locked in hotel rooms for your own safety and having to stay one jump ahead of people like Terry and Marla, and most of all not having me to yourself when you need me most" He traced the curve of her left breast with a finger. "There is still time to change your mind, you know."
Lorna smiled up at him and linked her hands behind his neck. "Don't worry about me Gypsy; you'll always have clean socks."
This brought a chuckle from Gypsy. "Would you be a Capricorn, by any chance?"
"Yes," was Lorna's surprised reply, "how did you know?"
"You've just demonstrated typical Capricorn logic. You're strong and dependable, just what I need in a woman. Shana was a Capricorn too, and I loved her, not just because she was sexy but also because she filled a gap left by my mother's inability to give me the love I craved. But Shana wasn't interested in making a home with me, even after Erica was born. She was my best friend and a wonderful wife but she wanted to dance and skate, and I would never have stopped her. Now I need something I've never really had before except when Tony was alive; I want a real home, for me and my daughter and my wife; and I need a wife at my side as my closest friend and companion when I go on tour. Does it sound as if I am taking too much without giving? Tell me if I am and I will make things right, I promise. Will you teach me how to give?"
Lorna's laugh held no malice as she placed her hands either side of his face. "You don't need lessons in giving. Look at the thousands you give to charity each year? Look at the Chilvers Project."
Gypsy flung himself away from her and stared desperately at the ceiling. "Anyone can give money away; that's easy. I'm talking about the real giving, from one person to another, from the heart, from me to Sandy for all he has done for me, and from me to you, don't you understand?"
Lorna raised herself off the pillows, gazed down at him for a moment then kissed him quickly before getting out of bed. She walked towards Gypsy's bathroom, picking up his robe on the way. "All right, I'm trying to. Tell me something," Her voice became muffled as she entered the shower. "You remember the story that went round Trentham about you and two French girls on Llandudno Beach? How true was it?"
"True enough." Gypsy still stared up at the ceiling, wondering why she wanted to know. "Some guys offered me a bet that I couldn't get them into bed and I won."
"Why did you do it?"
"Because of my sister, Perquita. One of those creeps took her on a day trip to London and conveniently lost his wallet; Perquita had to pay for everything and it cost a lot of money which he never paid back. When they got back, he dropped her, and we realized Perquita had been conned. She refused to let me go and sort him out so I got the money back my own way. Mind you I did cheat a little. I was performing with Different Hats in Ceaser's Showbar on Llandudno Pier, and they were right up front by the stage all night. The girls made it quite obvious they wanted more than me singing to them, so I made a date with them for the next day."
Lorna appeared in the doorway, rubbing her wet hair. "So that was how they came to be on the beach; you crafty devil!" S he disappeared into the bathroom again.
"Nothing happened between me and the girls. We just made up a scam. They were French nurses, so I pretended to sprain my ankle. They did their bit and the guys made the bet; thirty for a snog with them, sixty if they took me back to their place, a ton if I went to bed with one of them and two tons if I scored with both."
"Two Hundred quid. The next time we went back to Llandudno, I showed the guys some panties the girls had written on, and thinking I had really scored they coughed up the two hundred they owed Perquita."
" And you want me to give you lesson in giving when you did that for your sister? Pull the other one."
"I mean it."
"All right, lesson number one, get me some food, I'm starving!"
Gypsy slid a panel in the headboard aside, inside was row of six buttons. He pressed one and waited.
"Yes sir?" David's voice came out of the intercom behind the headboard.
"Hi David. Is dinner ready yet?"
"In two minutes, sir." Lorna's head popped round the bathroom doorway again, her eyes wide with interest, and hastily wrapping Gypsy's bathrobe round her for fear that David was in the room.
"All right, thank you David." Gypsy watched Lorna's reaction with a grin. "We'll be out in five minutes and you can open the champagne before you go, and pour yourself a glass."
There was a pause then David's calm voice said, "Thank you, Mr. Gypsy. I take it my congratulations are in order? May I be the first to drink to your health and happiness, and wish you both well?"
After the intercom had been switched, off Lorna came out o the bathroom, her eyes wide with amazement. "That kind of butler is only found in stately homes; where ever did you find him?"
"Believe it or not, he came with the house. He was taking a break when you first arrived or I would have introduced you. He worked for the previous owner and when we advertised for someone to help Jo run the place he was the first to apply. He was only supposed to assist Jo on a part time basis but we let him take over and he works full time as butler and my personal valet. Handle him carefully and he will be your slave for life, and I am not joking."
As soon as they were dressed in their bathrobes, they went into the lounge and found a table laid for them in the centre of the softly lit room . The cutlery was monogrammed silver, the crockery English bone china; and a single red candle graced the centre. L orna should have been impressed and flattered at the show of luxury on her behalf, but she felt uneasy and picked at her food till Gypsy put his fork down and sat back in his chair. "All right, Lorna, tell me what's on your mind."
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