Princess - *Book One*

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One year later

With a glass of water in my hand, I step out of our little holiday cottage onto the terrace with the breathtaking view over the ocean. I close my eyes for a moment and let the salty air fill my lungs and the sunshine warm my face.

For a week now, we’ve been spending our first holiday together at one of the most beautiful beaches here in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

We – that includes Ben and me, and the latest addition to the family: our little baby girl.

I look over to Ben, who is lying on of the loungers in the shade. Did I just think the sight of the ocean was breathtaking? My little heart bursts with pride and love when I see him with our beautiful and healthy daughter on his chest, both sleeping blissfully.

It’s been an exciting year for us. Ben and I worked hard on our relationship, and the pregnancy wasn’t easy either. There were no significant complications, but fear was my constant companion. And the last weeks were hell because I had premature labor and was only allowed to lie down. But Ben has always been by my side and has given me strength. Every day, he shows me his love in so many different ways that he’s making me feel like the luckiest girl on earth. Our daughter, Isabella, was finally born one month too early but perfectly healthy. And now, she’s six months old already and the radiant center of our lives. I look at the two of them with a huge smile on my face. My life couldn’t be any better.

Or could it?

Ben proposed three times this past year. Every time I turned him down. It still didn’t feel right. I always felt terribly sorry for him, but I couldn’t say yes even though I love him more than anything and want to spend the rest of my life with him.

I sigh as I look at him, and he opens one eye and looks at me. Immediately, he smiles widely and also opens the other eye. “Hey, Princess,” he whispers.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you,” I say with a frown.

Ben holds out his hand. “You didn’t. Come here.”

I walk over and sit down on the lounger next to him. I put the glass of water on the floor, and Ben takes my hand to place a tender kiss on my wrist. At that very moment, Isabella begins to stir, and shortly after, she also opens her eyes. She beams at me, and I laugh. Ben laughs too. “Looks like my time with her is over.”

I chuckle. “She’s probably hungry and smells her food source nearby. She’s a true Taylor after all.” I accept Bella and give Ben a gentle smile. He smiles back, but it doesn’t reach his eyes, and I know exactly what he’s thinking. He sits up and directs his gaze to the sea.

“Ben,” I say softly.

He looks at us, and then Bella starts to jump wildly on my lap, screeching with joy, which makes Ben grin widely. “Daddy loves you too, little Princess.”

Bella cheers and babbles until we suddenly hear a ‘da-da’. Ben looks at her wide-eyed, jumps up, and takes her in his arms, whirling her around with even more laughter. Then he gives her a big kiss on the cheek. Ben looks at me with the biggest grin ever. “Did you hear that? She said her first word!”

I laugh out loud. “Sure, if you want to tell yourself that, go ahead – Dada.” I get up too and join them. Ben puts his arm around my waist and kisses me on the forehead. I close my eyes and relish this embrace with the two most important people in my life, and I feel nothing but pure love.

While we hug, I smile at Ben. He returns my smile and gives me a gentle kiss on the lips. I clear my throat, trying to get rid of the sudden lump there. “Ben – what I wanted to say–” I bite my lips, looking for the right words. My heart is racing, and my palms are sweating, and not due to the heat that surrounds us. I close my eyes and take in a calming breath. When I open them again, I realize Ben is watching me expectantly.

“Yes?” he asks with raised eyebrows.

I take another deep breath. “Well, I would like to – be a Taylor, too–”

Ben narrows his eyes at me. “You – what?” He shakes his head and blinks at me.

“Ben,” I continue. I pull back a little and take his free hand in mine. “You are the love of my life, and I never want to be without you. And so that everyone knows, I ask you now if you, Ben Taylor, want to marry me?”

Ben opens and closes his mouth a few times and stares at me incredulously. One last time he shakes his head and finally finds his voice again. A wide smile spreads on his face. “Amy Franklin, it would be my greatest honor to make you a Taylor.” He presses his lips against mine and kisses me with a sigh, almost groaning, and I’m sure if Bella weren’t in his arms between us, that kiss would turn into something inappropriate for her eyes soon.

As if she knew that something exciting is happening, Bella screeches with joy and claps our faces so that we look back at her. Ben gives her a peck on the cheek. “Bella, did you hear that? Your mom wants to marry me.” He pulls back from our embrace. “Wait here!” he tells me in an excited voice.

With Bella still in his arm, he walks inside and comes back a few minutes later. I see Bella holding a small black box. I gasp even though I shouldn’t be surprised that Ben always has a ring handy.

“Okay, now we’re doing this right.” Ben kneels in front of me and places Bella on his leg. He takes my hand and says with the sweet smile that I love so much, “Amy Franklin, I have never loved anyone the way I love you, and I will never love anyone so much. Every day you make me the happiest man on earth. And I want to try every day to make you just as happy. Do you want to – finally – marry me?”

Of course, he had to use the word finally, but I laugh. “Yes, Ben, I do.”

He takes the little box from Bella, who is fidgeting on his leg, and opens it. And although this isn’t the first time I’m looking at this ring, it never looked as beautiful as it does right now.

Ben slips the ring on my finger, gets up, and locks Bella and me in his arms. He gives me a quick kiss and breathes into my ear, “Later, when Bella is asleep, we’ll celebrate this properly, and I’ll show you how happy you make me.”

At his words, the usual hot shiver runs down my spine, and a pleasant tingle forms in my lower abdomen, which is still as strong as it was on the first day we met.

Up until now, he’s kept all his promises, and I’m sure he will keep this one too.

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