The island in the middle of the Bottomless Sea was no longer a pile of rocks with a crumbling edifice and a dragon but a fortified island of towers and walls hiding a vast garden.
His shout did not receive an answer but he could hear the quick footfalls of Henry racing along the portico and up steps which meant he was unlikely to find his quarry in that direction. Treading the garden paths seemed a more likely way to locate his wife.
Killian turned in a circle seeking a sign to point him in the right direction. Mildly curious he passed a meadow with chairs and tables but as she wasn’t here, sitting like any sensible person who was pregnant with twins, he moved on. The bloody woman could poof places and here she made him shout himself hoarse trying to find her.
He exhaled his frustration, closed his eyes as his head fell back. This confounded pile of rocks Emma called home appeared to have unlimited space and about a hundred bloody paths leading in every direction. He would just have to search each and every one. The sound of footsteps came from behind him. He turned and slowly opened his eyes.
There she was – dressed in leathers with her hair pulled back, sword in hand and hesitation in her eyes. Whatever that was would be handled later. Killian strode quickly to her and held her face in both hands. Her name escaped his lips on a sigh. “Emma.”
“You’re doing that thing again.” She leaned her cheek into his hand.
He traced her lips with one finger. “What thing?”
“You’re looking at me hard enough to drill a hole in my head.”
“Get over it. I’ve no plans to stop any time soon love.” Killian couldn’t look away as she bit her bottom lip, holding her thoughts in as her eyes traced over his face. His tongue slid along his teeth and he grinned when she couldn’t hold back a groan.
“No kissing.” She reached out a shaking hand and traced a finger along his jaw and tapped his chin.
Killian leaned his forehead against hers. “I know and it’s a bloody nightmare.” His head tilted to one side, letting his nose slide across her cheek and down behind her ear, his lips barely a breath away from her skin. His hands left her face as he wrapped his arms around her to pull her body to his, eliminating the space separating them.
“Killian.” His name shuddered out from her lips and she burrowed into his neck. “I’ve missed you, so much.”
“And I, you.” He took the moment to let the feel of her soak deep into his bones, the stir of her breath against his skin, the smell of her hair and the pounding of her heart. He bent and lifted her high, turning back to the seating available in the meadow. “Oomph.”
“Killian, don’t. I…”
“Did you always weigh so much darling?” He hid his smirk as she stiffened in his arms. “And why do you have furniture out in the garden? Please tell me our bed is located somewhere with a bit more privacy.”
Killian carefully eased them down into a chair, making sure Emma was tucked into his side. His hands shook but he couldn’t stop touching her. What a pleasure it was to have two with which to do it. One twirled strands of her hair and the other kept sliding from cheek to shoulder to hand to knee, up her thigh then stroking over her belly before tracing the same path all over again.
“No weight jokes.” Emma grabbed one hand trying to keep it still but he distracted her by sliding the tips of the fingers tangled in her hair down the back of her neck. She shivered and tried to swat it, freeing his other hand. “Killian, stop.”
“You know, you were dangerous enough with one hand.”
“Not prepared to handle a two-handed pirate, wife.” He waggled his eyebrows and smiled down at her. He closed his eyes to let the feel of her settle into his soul. “Minor detail really, my love. I’m more concerned with the whole kissing ban. How are you meant to resist all this?” A fizz of excitement skittered down his spine and his eyes trained on her to bask in her response.
There it was. The eyebrows furrowed skeptical look that blatantly asked if he really thought he could play the dashing rapscallion bit with her. The joy that look sent through him was so pure and so true, he fought hard to not kiss it from her face. Instead he smiled, broad and beaming, and shifted his hold on her.
Emma went from skeptical to worried. “Killian what are you...”
She never finished. He managed to propel them from their seat and swung her legs up to prevent any escape from his grasp.
“Where’s our bed, Swan?” He turned toward one tower and then another before jiggling her lightly. “You are almost as challenging to haul as one of my rum barrels.”
“That’s not funny.” She wrapped her arms around his neck to hold on as he started to walk toward a tower and leaned back in his arms. “It isn’t nice to make fun of your pregnant wife. Take the left path.”
His right brow winged up as he followed her directions. “Now, now back to our serious problem. How exactly do plan to resist my luscious lips?”
“If only I still had morning sickness, then I wouldn’t just feel like throwing up on you.” She groused. “Keep left, the tallest tower is mine.”
“I may have more room than I need.” Emma lifted a hand to stroke his cheek. “Know any dashing one-handed pirates?”
“I knew it.” He hooted and lifted one brow at her cheekiness. “You’re going to miss the hook.”
He kicked open the door to the tallest tower and watched as his teasing wife’s tongue slide over her upper lip. Killian forgot about finding their bed or the stairs and simply mesmerized by the woman in his arms. Slowly he leaned closer till he felt her breath against his lips.
“No kissing,” she whispered and he growled in response. “Come on, Killian, we can do this.”
He lowered her down, till both feet touched the ground and made sure she was steady. “I’m not entirely sure about that love, but please go on.”
Emma headed for the stairs, waiting at the bottom for him. “I think we both are smart enough to figure this out.” She rolled her eyes, blushing. “Experienced enough.”
He joined her and entwined their hands. “That has nothing to do with anything right now.” He squeezed her hand. “Kissing has always been more than just a pleasure for us. Remember Neverland?”
“You mean when I tried to show you I could handle it?”
“Saucy wench that you were, yes.” Unconcerned about the frown he caused. “Life suddenly changed in one moment.”
“Are you looking for another life changing moment?”
It was Killian’s turn to roll his eyes. He stopped at the first floor they came to and glanced in but Emma pulled on his hand to keep going.
“No, I simply wish to kiss my wife.” Killian walked ahead of her and turned backward in order to face her. “However high your walls were, I could always tell how you truly felt by your kiss.”
“Uh huh, it’s like the song.” He stopped and let her advance till she was in his arms again. “It's in your kiss.” Killian leaned forward, letting his arms brace Emma as she leaned away from him.
“The shoop shoop song?”
“If you wanna know.” He licked his lips, letting his eyes melt into puppy dog sadness.
“Yeah, yeah I got it.” Emma put her hand over his mouth and gave it a quick smack of her lips. “Three days and then you’ll really know how I feel about you.” When she removed her hand, he was frowning. “Until then we can retire to separate corners of the island and wait if it’s that important to you.”
“Madam Wife, I am a pirate who has just return after an excruciatingly long separation from his wife.”
“So, patience isn’t one of your virtues?” Emma shrugged, stepped away and then moved past him on the stairs. “No kissing.”
Kilian straightened up and sharply turned to watch as Emma grinned and climbed up the stairs. He looked down, stretching his fingers and admiring his two hands.
“I do love a challenge.”
The rustle of leather pulled Emma from her light doze but she kept her eyes closed and faked sleep. Bare feet slapped against the stone floor then the balcony doors creaked open. Rolling to her side, she curled around her pillow and enjoyed the sight of her husband studying the bottomless sea. Dashing and magnetic as he was, the sight calmed her heart even as her breath hitched in her chest.
She moved quietly, stretching her sore body. Damn pirate and his challenges. Emma smiled to herself, he hadn’t needed a reassuring talk with her mother about sex and the pregnant mother. Her gaze caught on shifting muscles as he stretched his arms over his head and she was no longer happy to be so far away from him. Kicking the covers to the bottom of the bed, she stood and shifted through the pile of clothes on the floor.
Pulling Killian’s shirt from the pile and over her head Emma walked over the cold stone floor to catch him from behind. Pressed to his back she could feel his happy little hum while he laced their hands together. She barely caught herself before she kissed his shoulder. With a resigned sigh Emma dropped her head forward, letting her forehead rest against his back.
“Shut up.” Emma wanted to bite him but settled for head butting his spine, making him laugh and turn to face her. She felt his heated gaze take in her bare feet and legs, his shirt hanging on her smaller frame. “I resisted.”
Killian backed up to sit on the balcony’s railing. “You are simply breath taking wife.”
“I’m not the only one. Besides, you really just like your shirt.”
“Well, not everyone has the cleavage for it.”
Emma rolled her eyes and went to lean next to him. “What’re we doing out here?”
She couldn’t stop the flutter of her lashes as she looked up at him but Killian was distracted, his gaze focused down. When she followed it Emma found her hand was resting on her growing baby bump. Babies bump? She shook the thought away and nudged her husband. “Quite the surprise isn’t it?”
“Your father is an identical twin, so no, not entirely.” His right hand reached out toward her, stopping before making contact.
Emma grabbed him by the wrist and brought his palm to rest on her belly, grinning as he held his breath. “You know a few hours ago…”
“I wasn’t thinking about them.” Killian rolled his eyes with a grin. “Other matters occupied my thoughts.”
Emma slid his hand to the side a bit and studying his face to see his reaction when he felt the flutter of movement. Killian’s whole body flinched but the pressure of his hand on her increased and his wide eyes caught hers. “Is that feet?”
Emma laughed, letting the joy inside her out. “Maybe.” He got down on his knees, putting his ear up to her belly. “I don’t think you’ll be hearing much that way.”
Killian frowned up at her as his hands stroked over her belly. “Robin talked about hearing the heart beat.” He scratched his ear as his cheeks redden and he looked away. “As well as something about a picture from, eh, inside.”
“Technology we left behind when we landed here.” Emma looked down at the top of his head as his hands searched for further signs of life from the twins. She let a hand thread through the black mess, combing it to one side and out of his eyes when his head dropped back to look up at her. His eyes had turned serious, the mischievous twinkle held at bay by whatever thoughts were crossing his mind. Both of her hands came up to stroke his face as a sigh escaped her. “We need to talk don’t we? This isn’t exactly what we planned…”
Killian moved quickly to stand, his lips almost catching hers before she leaned back just in time and he growled at her.
“Did you just growl at me?”
“Aye.” He paced away before coming to stand in front of her. “The kissing thing is ridiculous but I will let you have that. In return.” He tangled his fingers in her hair, gently tugging her forward and letting his hand cup the back of her head, fingers kneading. For the hundredth time since his return to her, they held each close, lips a breath away from touching, their bodies tense. He shook his head, his other hand moving to cup her cheek and rubbing his thumb over her lips.
“In return?” She whispered, letting her head fall forward enough to touch her forehead to his and put distance between their lips. “There isn’t much I wouldn’t do for you.”
“No.” Emma felt his sigh feather over her cheek as he moved to brush his nose against hers. A small smile tilted the corners of her mouth as they sparred in a new way. Their heads tilting, noses and mouths moving forward then to the side as he sought and she avoided brushing their lips against each other. “Robin.”
Killian held still, blue eyes staring into green.
Emma spoke again. “Neal.”
A single black brow arched at her and she closed her eyes as she felt his nose brush hers again. Emma straighten her back and pushed her emotions down, feeling a cool breeze flow between as the space widen, knowing her face became colder. Her eyes opened and stared into blue ones shocked at her lack of emotion. “Milah.”
Emma felt the hand tangled in her hair pull away and closed her eyes. She shivered in the wind and concentrated on taking one breath after another. She was being silly and worse, mean to the man who held her heart and her trust in his hands.
“I’m…” She wasn’t able to finish. Standing before her was a highly unamused pirate shaking his head at her.
“Is this that pregnancy brain your father spoke of?”
“He implied that there was a loss of reason related to your current state.” Killian crossed his arms and stood with his weight braced to one side. He shook his head again, raising a hand to cover his eyes. “It must be as my Emma would never behave like such a dull-witted lout.”
“Hey now.” Her hands clenched. “Who you calling stupid?”
“The woman who knows I promised to love her for eternity.” He glared while his fingers circled his temples, massaging away a fake headache. “By the way what is with your family and promising eternity?”
“Now you have a problem with that?”
Killian’s arms dropped down to his side and he met her glare head on. “No, and I never will. I guess there’s no other way really.”
The pirate scooped her up and carried her back into the room. She squirmed in his arms and when he set her down by the bed he placed a hand over her mouth.
Killian’s eyebrows rose high when she licked his palm but he didn’t remove his hand. “Yes, we need to talk.”
Tears began to pool in Emma’s eyes and her breath shuddered as she inhaled, preparing to hear the worst. He placed a single finger against her lips.
“Please don’t. I can’t stand it when you cry my love.”
She lifted a hand to wipe away the tears, their hands tangling as the both tried to clear them away. “You’re going to have a hard time till these kids get here then.”
“There is so much to say and so much I wish to know but.” Killian paused as she held on to the wrist of the hand brushing her face. “I haven’t had enough of just being with you yet. When I woke, I.” He placed her hand over his heart where she could feel the rapid beat. “I thought it had been a dream. I need to know this is real, that I finally have what I wanted from the moment we met, for like the hundredth time.”
Emma closed her eyes to enjoy the feel of her husband’s finger stroking across her cheek. “We haven’t met for the first time that many times.”
“Enough times that I need this feeling to sink all the way to my bones.”
“So?” All the emotions she buried earlier sparkling in her eyes.
Killian held her gaze as he unbuttoned his shirt. “In return for sufficient time to indelibly mark our love upon my soul, tomorrow we’ll talk. About everything.”
Emma fiddled with the fastening for his beloved leather pants. “Okay.” She shrugged the shirt from her shoulders and slid onto the bed. The sweep of his eyes caused a wave of heat to spread up her body. She snuggled back into her pillow and watched her husband strip off the leather pants and crawl in after her.
He tugged the covers up then pulled her close to rest against his side. Blue eyes stared into green as their restless hands soothed their souls with soft touches.
“I love you,” Emma whispered.
Killian touched his nose to hers as their breath slipped deeper into sleep. “I know.