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Authors: Carol Marinelli

A Bride for Kolovsky (15 page)

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EPILOGUE

L
AVINIA
had no shame.

She
was
the bride-to-be from hell, and she didn't care who knew it.

As a child she had fallen asleep dreaming of this day, had blocked out the noises from the bedroom next door with dreams of her prince, and quite simply it had to be perfect.

Perfect!
she informed each Kolovsky in turn.

If they couldn't move on or get along then she didn't want them at her wedding—and that included Zakahr.

The brothers would wear matching Kolovsky silk ties, and so too would Ross, Annika's husband. Annika and Nina were to wear shoes in the same silk.

‘It's too much!' Katina grumbled. ‘You need
subtle
—let us do what we do best.'

‘It's
my
wedding!' Lavinia insisted.

And it was.

The dress that had waited to be worn by a Kolovsky bride and had been shunned each time was taken out
of the display cabinet and fitted for Lavinia, and it was absolutely the best dress in the world.

She could feel the jewels in the hem that had been sewn in by Ivan.

Opal earrings from Nina dangled at her ears.

And she wore her mother's watch. It was the one thing Fleur had refused to pawn, a gift from her favourite client who, Lavinia had secretly dreamed, was maybe, just maybe, her father. Today she felt so sure and complete that Lavinia was quite certain he was.

‘Big breaths,' said Hannah, the Salvation Army worker who had always been there for her while she grew up, and who would give her away on her biggest day.

‘Are they all there?' Lavinia begged—because she wanted each and every one of the Kolovskys to share this.

She loved them all, every depraved, debauched, reformed one of them, and this day was not perfect without them all here.

‘Levander's there,' Hannah said, peering into the church. Levander was easily spotted, because Zakahr had chosen him as his best man—two Detsky Dom boys made good, thanks to love.

‘I'm here,' Annika, who was bridesmaid, pointed out. ‘And I've seen Aleksi and Iosef go in.'

‘And they're standing with Nina?' Lavinia checked.

‘They are,' Annika said. ‘You can stop worrying now.'

And she did. Standing at the doors of the church, it dawned on Lavinia that she could stop worrying now.

Zakahr had been right. Kevin had refused the DNA test Lavinia's lawyer had suggested. Rachael was not even his. And now the little girl was getting used to her new family. Too shy to be a bridesmaid, today she was being held by a doting Nina, and that serious face more often these days broke into a smile.

‘You look wonderful,' Annika said to Lavinia, and it felt strange for Annika. She should be jealous—after all, her mother was so close to Lavinia—but how could she be jealous of a woman who had healed such a fractured family? ‘You
are
wonderful,' Annika said, which was terribly effusive for her. And what was more she gave Lavinia a kiss.

The walk up the aisle was up to that moment the best walk of her life. But Lavinia wanted to gallop—because she wanted to walk back down it with
him
.

Zakahr smiled when he saw her—a smile that came from his soul. Because, unlike his sister and brothers, he knew her truth. His secret virgin walked towards him, and never till then had Zakahr considered himself lucky. But resentment was a memory now. His soul was devoid of anything bitter, and every piece of his past was worth it for this moment—because without pain he would not have recognised such joy.

Yes, he knew her truth, and she knew his—knew every story behind every scar—and still, steadfastly, she loved him.

Which was why he would do anything for her.

‘You look beautiful,' he said when she joined him.

‘I know!' Lavinia beamed and kissed him. ‘So do you.'

There was a lot of talking, and a bit of singing—only
Lavinia didn't really hear it, because they were getting to the part that mattered the most, and her heart was hammering, and her hands were shaking.

He took them in his as he offered her his vows. And he held them and remembered what she'd whispered in his ear the night he'd asked her to marry him.

He could see his dazzling, happy wife, perhaps the strongest woman he knew, for the first time ever crying as Zakahr opened his mouth. Lavinia was crying because she knew how hard this was for him, but she knew, absolutely, that he could do it.

And he did.

‘I, Zakahr Riminic Kolovsky…'

She heard the gasp from the congregation, turned and saw Nina holding Rachael, crying and smiling, and all his brothers and his sister standing proud.

She could only love him more as she stumbled through her own vows.

 

It was the most wonderful party.

The press were baying at the door, a helicopter hovered overhead, but no one inside cared. There was love in the air, and plenty to go around, and Lavinia danced and chatted and ate, and insisted everyone danced some more.

No, Zakahr did not dance with Nina, but they shared a drink and admired Lavinia—the one solid link between them.

Forgiveness wasn't a place Zakahr had arrived at yet, but he was making the journey. And if it was hard, still
it brought rewards—there were enough Kolovskys to ensure he had far fewer trips to the airport!

 

‘I never want to take it off!' She stood in the honeymoon suite and couldn't bear to take off the dress, just twirled at the mirror as Zakahr lay on the bed and watched.

Then she turned sideways and ran her hands over her latest phantom pregnancy, pressed in the fabric in a search for changes.

Zakahr suppressed a smile—she wasn't even late yet, though Lavinia insisted she felt bloated.

‘Can we have lots of babies?'

‘Lots,' Zakahr said. ‘All boys!' Because he'd have his work cut out keeping tabs on mini-Lavinias.

Lavinia smiled and thought of lots of little grey-eyed, dark-haired boys, and gave a smile for the little girls she'd make sure they had too. ‘I want a big family.'

‘We've suddenly got one!' he said as she came over.

Lavinia held up her hair as Zakahr took care of a long row of buttons, his mouth tracing her spine. ‘They're
my
family, except I feel like I'm marrying into
yours
, Mrs Kolovsky.'

‘Say it again.' She was shameless.

‘Mrs Kolovsky,' Zakahr duly said as he peeled the bodice down. ‘Mrs Lavinia Kolovsky.'

She made it easy to say—so easy to become the person he was born to be, the only man to change his name on his wedding day!

Then Zakahr stilled for a moment, realised she wasn't imagining things as he saw the unfamiliar swell in her
pale flat breasts, saw the changes in her body that would change their future.

‘What?' She smiled up at him.

‘Everything,' Zakahr said. ‘You're everything to me.'

ISBN: 978-1-4592-0183-5

A BRIDE FOR KOLOVSKY
Previously published in the U.K. as THE DEVIL WEARS KOLOVSKY

First North American Publication 2011

Copyright © 2011 by Carol Marinelli

All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including xerography, photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, is forbidden without the written permission of the publisher, Harlequin Enterprises Limited, 225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada M3B 3K9.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

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