Johanna sat on the blanket, her tiny son nestled at her breast while she watched Samuel playing in the water with the children. Hope and Faith were anxious to learn how to use the jet skis, while Christopher tested Patrick’s arm with his growing skills with the blade. Destiny lay stretched out across a towel, laying on her stomach as the sun kissed her tanned flesh.
Edward and Juliet played with the twins, Daniel and Scott, teaching them to build a sandcastle. Samuel was instructing the girls on how to use the machines, then allowed Travis and Skylar to take over. The girls enjoyed having the young men along to help them, despite their father’s insistence that they were too young to consider the opposite sex.
Samuel lifted his daughter, Sammy, to his shoulders as he picked Michael up around the waist. Elizabeth was still napping in the shade from the mountain, next to her mother, but Johanna knew it wasn’t going to last.
Once the cool wind from the ocean caressed her cheeks, she’d wake up, begging to go for a swim.
The sounds of dolphins echoed in the afternoon air, and Johanna glanced up to the family who danced and jumped just beyond the reef. The seclusion of the beach beneath the Garden House had been the family’s favorite spot, and it was enjoyed for hours during the warmer months.
Samuel pulled Sammy off his shoulders, allowing her to go to her grandparents and help with the castle, while Michael struggled to get free of his father’s embrace. As soon as his feet touched the sand, he was off again, climbing the bolder that sat near the water’s edge.
“I got an email from Nora this morning,” Johanna told the man as he stretched out beside his wife, kissing David’s small head as he remained nestled in his mother’s arms. “She is very excited about coming home next month. She asked if I would consider her for Mary’s position.”
“It’s going to be strange not having Mary around, but I understand her need to be with her family. I feel sorry for Henry. Five girls have to be a nightmare to raise.”
“I think that’s why Mary wants to retire. Henry can’t do as much as she can, and he gets frustrated with their growing hormones and emotions.”
“I was thinking about our anniversary,” Samuel said, his large hand caressing her leg. “I’d like to take you off the island for a few days. We can go anywhere you’d like.”
“What do we do with the baby?” she asked, adjusting her son across her lap as she pulled her breast back into her swimsuit.
“If you pump for the next week, it should be enough to hold him, and I’ll take care of you. You know how much I enjoy sharing your breasts.”
“Are you planning on nursing every four hours?”
“Why not? Four hours a day of your sweet body? It’s a man’s dream come true.”
“After eight years of marriage, and you’re still incorrigible.”
The soft whimper of Elizabeth as she stretched and opened her eyes, put an end to the conversation. She sat up and rubbed her eyes, then reached out for her father.
“I want to swim,” she said, her voice groggy with sleep.
Johanna watched as Samuel laughed and picked up the three-year-old, then walked to the ocean with her. Life had changed a great deal since she came to the island. It was a rough few months at first, but after her wedding, things seemed to find a natural groove to settle in.
Tim Drake had been tried and sentenced to life in prison for the murder of her grandfather, and the involvement in Lady Catherine’s death. Martha was placed on probation, and Roxanne was sentenced to fifteen years, but only served three before being released on good behavior. The women were living in a modest home outside Kensington, along with Roger Parker, who admitted to his feelings for Martha. They were married the year Roxanne was released from jail and were living happily, with the past far behind them.
The Sorensens and Oscar didn’t survive their punishment, and as promised, were delivered to the Pool of Trepidation. Walter and Franny were frequent visitors to the palace, and Kevin had married Melinda’s shy little sister. Unlike her older sibling, Marianne was loving and kind, and together they had three young boys. Nora had gone to university in Greenly and was graduating with her journalism degree. All she had ever wanted to be was Johanna’s press secretary, but with Mary wanting to retire, she opted into being her personal assistant instead.
Edward and Juliet were frequent visitors to the island but had moved to England to be closer to their businesses. They reluctantly left Christopher behind with Johanna. It had been an almost year-long battle to convince them to let him go to school on Westerly. They were still very much British, and the idea of the bordellos didn’t sit well with them. It wasn’t until Walter and Franny took them to one as their guests that they relented. Johanna never asked what happened between the two couples, but she was fairly certain it didn’t have much to do with the Ladies.
Everything on the island was at last calm and quiet, just as it was intended. Samuel and Johanna were happier than they ever imagined, and even though he wasn’t happy about being king, they were a strong team. With his emotional connection to the island and her intellect, they were a force to be reckoned with.
Johanna sighed deeply, breathing in the clean air and salty ocean. There was a time in her life when she would have ran from anything close to contentment or love, but now, she just couldn’t imagine living without either one. Her life was peaceful and full, and she wouldn’t want it any other way.
Samuel asked her once, shortly after Michael was born, what she based their attraction for each other on. She liked the feeling of being primitive and loved the savageness of their passion. It made her want to go to bed at night and wake up in the arms of her husband. She loved her husband and children more than she ever imagined she would. She may never admit it, but she knew there were so many things that brought them together and kept them strong. Though she answered Samuel’s question with a simple phrase.
“It was definitely a primal attraction.”
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