They went, with Danny stopping only to pat Sam awkwardly on the shoulder. About two minutes later Sam heard Anna shriek then giggle. He ran, and was upstairs and back in time to see Danny running from the kitchen with Anna in hot pursuit. He grabbed her from behind and kissed her very thoroughly, just because it pleased him to do so. She relaxed against him.
“What was that for?”
She purred in his arms like a contented cat, then stirred and looked up at him.
“That bugger Danny,” she said darkly “sneaked up on me and tickled my ribs till I could barely stand up.”
“The swine. Shall I beat him for you?”
“Nah. I sicced Bonnie on him. She’ll chase him around the garden till he falls over. Then stand on his chest and lick him into submission.”
Sam pulled her closer.
“God, woman. I so love you.”
“Love you back much harder.”
Then an exasperated voice from the direction of the orchard called them back to real life.
“Help. Will somebody help. This bloody dog has me down and she’s not letting me up.”
Sam whistled and Bonnie came to his side immediately with her tail lashing and a light of unholy glee in her eyes.
“What you been up to Bon Bon?” he asked fondly.
She leapt up to lick his chin, before sitting demurely at his feet. Danny loomed out of the darkness with mud on the knees of his trousers and a generally dishevelled look.
“You, dog,” he said with pride in his voice, “are a proper bugger.”
Bonnie wagged delightedly then went into the kitchen and pointedly studied her tin of treats. Anna obliged, giggling as she did so.
“Maybe that’ll teach some people not to sneak up on unsuspecting females with their tickling fingers.”
Danny ambled into the kitchen in her wake, dropping Sam a wink in passing.
“Couldn’t help it. I love to hear you giggle. Now didn’t somebody promise me a glass of wine before bed?”
“No. Actually they didn’t, but I’ll get you one anyway. Sam?”
Sam nodded and they ended the day around the kitchen table in perfect amity.
It was well before seven the next morning when Sam felt Anna stir in the bed next to him. He reached over and switched on the bedside lamp before catching her in a bear hug.
“Good morning, beautiful.”
She rolled over to lay on top of him, nose to nose.
“Good morning yourself. You are bright and early.”
“Well. It’s my wedding day. I’m going to marry the love of my life. Just too excited to sleep.”
“Me too. Whatever shall we do with ourselves?”
Sam grinned and flipped them so that he was on top of her and kissed her till she was breathless.
“I’ve got a present for you.”
“I can feel that.”
“That wasn’t actually what I meant, but now you come to mention it. You want?”
He bit the side of her neck, then twisted his head so his teeth could graze her breast. She responded by groaning and grabbing a double handful of his hair.
“I’ll take that as a yes, shall I?” Sam shifted his hips so his fingers could tease her. She was wet and ready, and writhed under him like a snake. “You are insatiable, woman.”
Then he could speak no longer as his need rose to meet hers.
When he could think again, he grinned and kissed Anna gently.
“I really do have a wedding present for you.”
He jumped out of bed and retrieved the parcel from its concealment in the bottom of his wardrobe. Anna sat up and he put it gently in her lap. She looked at the wrapping.
“You never wrapped this.”
“No. Paul did that. But I made the present.”
She opened it slowly and carefully, then sat in silence for a moment looking at the smooth wood.
“Oh Sam. It’s beautiful.”
She lifted the lid, and took out the sectioned tray, before giving Sam a puzzled look. He slid up the front panel to display the hidden drawers.
“Oh Sam. It’s beautiful. And you made it just for me.”
Slow tears dripped down her cheeks and Sam wiped them away with his thumbs.
“The box has one more secret,” he said. “Just press the tiny brass catch in the corner of the drawer.”
Anna pressed it, and yet another drawer slid out from the base of the box. It contained an envelope, which Anna opened carefully to find a card inside on the front of which was a picture of herself with Bonnie, laughing at the camera. She opened the card. Anna from Sam. A ring has no end and neither does my love for you. You hold my heart in your tender hands, please always love me like you do today.
Anna carefully put the box to one side and then threw herself into Sam’s arms.
“Oh my love. I’ll always love you. Will you do the same for me?”
Then, after a very satisfactory interlude of kissing and whispering, she looked at him from the corner of her eyes. “Tell me something. How long did it take you to make my box?”
“Best part of a year. I started it after about our third date. It made me feel closer to you when we were apart.”
She cradled his lean cheeks in her hands.
“I love you Sam Henderson.”
“And I love you Anna Marshall. Hey. The next time we make love, you’ll be Anna Henderson. My wife as well as my love.”