Five years later…

 

Summer was just finishing her journal entry. She’d been hurrying to get it done in time, looking as the clock ticked down the minutes until—

                ‘Mummy! Mummy? Where are you?’

Right on time, she heard Katy’s not-so-dulcet tones calling for her, even as a smile full of love pulled at her mouth. Theron always tried to keep their mischievous daughter occupied in the kitchen for at least half an hour after dinner so that Summer could have this time, knowing how important her journaling was to her.

                Quickly she put down the journal, turned off the light, closed the door to the secret room, slipped though the passageway and back into the master bedroom just before Katy burst into the room.

                ‘Mummy, where are—’

                Katy descended into a fit of giggles as she realised she’d been shouting when Summer was standing right there. 

                ‘Mummy, that’s naughty,’ she accused. It was Summer’s daughter’s latest delight. Although Catherine was on their daughter’s birth certificates, they had called her Katy from day one. 

                ‘What’s naughty sweatpea?’ she asked.

                ‘You are!’

                ‘I am? I am?’ Summer demanded, all mock outrage as she chased her daughter with tickle-fingers and they both ended up in a hysterical heap on the bed. She didn’t think that there was anything more pure, more beautiful than the sound of her daughter, out of breath from laughter.

                Facing each other, Summer pushed a dark curl from her daughter’s forehead, so happy that she had her father’s deep dark eyes. But the sparkle? That was all Soames.

                ‘Where are my girls?’ Theron’s voice boomed into the room.

                ‘Here Daddy. Mummy’s being naughty again,’ Katy said, bursting into laughter as Summer’s quick tickles found her.

                ‘Oh really?’ Theron demanded as he came into the room, staring down at them with a glint in his eye that Katy was thankfully far too young to recognise. He smiled and Summer felt it in her heart.

                Summer didn’t know how, but he was able to do this thing, where he’d look at her and time would just stop. She’d feel an infinity of love in an instant and knew that she could never want for anything more.

                He sighed, before checking his watch, as if he’d felt it too. His eyes widened and then he pulled a grimace. ‘Katy, we have to get dressed. The others are going to be here in twenty minutes.’

                Katy scrabbled up on the bed and started jumping up and down, crying ‘the others are coming’. Even as Summer put her hand out just in case, Theron was by the bed in an instant, plucking his daughter from the air mid-jump.

                ‘Come on, my love. You have your new dress to—’

                The scream of delight from their daughter was so loud it could have burst his eardrum but he didn’t flinch, didn’t lessen his hold even for a second. Cradling her to him, Theron bent over the bed, Katy now giggling at being horizontal and kissed Summer quickly, but lovingly and took their daughter off to get ready for the day.

                Summer watched them go until she checked the time and jumped off the bed and threw herself in to the en-suite shower. Fifteen minutes later, she was showered, dry and opening the wardrobe door, marvelling at the array of colour that was on display. She passed the teals, the beautiful bright yellows and the verdant greens. There was only one colour to be worn today.

 

As she came down the stairs, the beautiful scarlet red silk swirled around her calves, matched the red stilettos she knew that her husband would appreciate, even if she didn’t last the full day in them. Her fingers tripped over the red velvet ribbon Katy had insisted should wrap around the banister, and the scent of pine trees and spiced orange rose up from the lower floor.  Everywhere she looked was sparkles of tinsel, rich green foliage and deep red velvet. Theron, apparently, loved Christmas as much as their daughter.

                An impossibly tall spruce stood proudly in the hallway to greet every member of the family as they arrived. Giant red bows, little silver bows and American candy canes hung from boughs while sparkling cream lights twinkled between the fronds. There was a giant silver urn on the side table deep with mulled wine and glasses ready for their guests.

                Summer inhaled deeply and rolled her shoulders free of any stiffness, relishing the excitement and anticipation of the day ahead. In the last few years it had become her favourite part of the year because it was the one time that everyone was guaranteed to gather together. At any other point, they were spread as far and wide as Greece, Duratra, France, Costa Rica and wherever else Skye could entice Benoit to wander.

                But everyone came home for Christmas.

                Although Kyros hadn’t been happy about it, Summer and Theron had waited until Katy was three years old before marrying. By that point, Skye had married Benoit exactly a year on from his proposal in a gorgeous out door wedding in France, the Soames diamond necklace as her something old. And no one had minded one bit when little Catherine had burst into beautiful laughter as the priest had asked for anyone to speak now or forever hold their peace. 

Star had married Khalif in a stunning ceremony in Duratra’s capital where the celebrations had lasted for days and Catherine was treated like a little princess and loved every minute of it. Star had worn the Soames diadem and the inter-locked necklace in honour of both Catherine and Hâtem; the joining of the two families feeling fated. 

                But Summer’s wedding to Theron had been a little closer to home.

                Two years ago today, Summer walked down these very same stairs in a wedding dress of oyster coloured silk. The design had been similar to that of the yellow dress she had bought all those years ago in Athens. And although everyone proclaimed her to be the most beautiful bride they’d ever seen, she only had eyes for Theron.

                In front of their families, those of blood and those of friendship, Summer had sworn to love her husband for eternity and a day and Theron had promised to be by her side and never leave. The glint in his eye as he’d finally made the promise that had terrified him so much, was more than Summer could have ever asked for.

In a mixture of Greek and English, wreaths and rings, their love was celebrated and cemented in the estate in Norfolk that had been in her family for hundreds of years, and Summer couldn’t shake the feeling that Catherine had been watching over them that day.

                Before she could round the corner, Theron appeared at the bottom of the stairs and Summer couldn’t help the burst of arousal from deep within her at the sight of her husband dressed in a suit that fitted him to perfection.

                As if he were too feeling the same way, his eyes flashed for just a moment before he blinked. But while the intensity in his gaze had been banked, in the last five years and all their years to come, his thoughts and feelings were never hidden from her again.

                To her surprise, he bent to one knee.

                ‘What are you doing?’

                ‘Asking you to marry me.’

                ‘But,’ she broke off to laugh, ‘we’re already married,’ she said as she drew closer and closer to him.

                ‘I know. I just want to be able to promise you that I’ll never leave your side in front of our family and friends as many times as possible.’

                ‘We don’t need a lavish ceremony just for that.’

                ‘Just for that?’ he demanded in the same way he’d once demanded what ‘just a kiss’ was supposed to mean. ‘If I want, I will have a hundred ceremonies to tell you how much I love you and to make unending promises to the most beautiful wife a man has ever had.’

                ‘Theron, don’t let Lykos hear you say that, or he’ll be offering a thousand ceremonies to his wife.’

                Theron laughed, standing to his full height. ‘I still can’t quite believe that he actually ended up with a castle,’ he said, fitting her to his side and placing his hand between her shoulder blades as he liked to do. He guided her to a stop and took her hand in his, pulling her round to face him.

                He slowly inched forward, his lips hovering a hair’s breadth from hers, pleasure and anticipation rising within her as she held onto the tease, waiting to see which one of them broke first this time.

The moment was broken by the slash of the doorbell.

Theron smiled and whispered, ‘You owe me a kiss,’ into her ear before he turned and braced himself against the screams of her sisters and nieces as they rushed the couple with arms, hugs, laughter and love. Through the chaos Summer saw Benoit following through the entrance talking to Khalif about the incredible memorial project for his brother and sister-in-law and she couldn’t help the tendril of professional curiosity getting the better of her. Theron caught her eye and understood her desires, enticing her sisters and nieces away to meet Katy, so that she could catch up on how the bridge and conservation area between two kingdoms in the middle east was coming along.

Before long, Katy came running to find her and pull her back to the living room where piles and piles of presents were being unloaded to her mounting horror.

                ‘I thought we only said one present each,’ Summer said, feeling a little worried.

                Star laughed gently. ‘We did. And we stuck to it. But we wanted to take some gifts to the children’s ward at Norfolk and Norwich hospital. The boys were going to take the girls there this afternoon.’

                Understanding dawned in her eyes and she nodded, feeling a spread of love for the generosity they were able to share, but also the tug of a promise they had made when Mum had first started her treatment.

                Five years on, and Mariam had received the all clear and was officially cancer free. The celebration planned for that evening, after Mariam and Kyros flew in from Greece would be incredible. But no less important than the personal moment the sisters had planned for that afternoon.

                Over a leisurely late brunch that Skye argued with Theron was more lunch-lunch and Lykos, who had arrived with his wife, rolled his eyes and complained about the English not knowing anything about food, and which Theron wholly agreed with, Summer felt the love for her family rise up around her and fill the house completely.

                In her wildest dreams, she couldn’t have imagined such a future. And it was all thanks to Catherine Soames. She caught her sisters’ eyes and, as if they all felt and thought the same way, they quietly excused themselves from the table. Their husbands, understanding, kept the children distracted and soon, Summer heard the entire group getting into their respective cars and heading out to the hospital for the family tradition that started the year after Skye’s little girl had spent a terrifying three months in hospital over Christmas. She could see that Skye was torn, wanting to go with them and Summer put a hand on her arm for comfort.

                ‘It’s okay,’ Skye insisted. ‘There will be plenty of more years for that. This is something I want to do.’

                ‘It’s something we all want to do,’ insisted Star and Summer led them to section of wood panelling beside the master bedroom that they hadn’t seen before. ‘Wait, what…?’

                Summer smiled and shrugged mischievously. ‘Well, we were renovating so many of the areas I thought that just because they were secret passageways doesn’t mean they have to be grim passageways.’

                Skye’s eyes grew round, staring at the panelling and finally seeing the faint impression of a secret door. ‘You didn’t! Benoit didn’t say anything,’ she chided.

                ‘We wanted it to be a surprise,’ Summer replied.

                ‘Naughty,’ Star teased.

                ‘You’re the second person who’s said that to me today,’ she said confused. ‘I don’t think I’m naughty at all.’

                Skye made a face and Summer gently nudged her with her shoulder.

Star looked up impatiently. ‘Well, what are we waiting for?’

                Summer laughed. ‘You.’

                ‘Me?’

                ‘Yes. The key.’

                ‘But that’s for the… wait. Oh Summer!’

                She smiled as Star produced the key and found the lock on a door that looked like part of the mahogany panelling beside the master bedroom.   

                The key slipped in as if it had been used only the day before. Which it hadn’t. Summer had a secret-secret entrance from the master bedroom to Catherine’s hidden room, but she’d wanted separate access for her sisters whenever they wanted to use it.

                The door opened to a gently lit corridor, grained wooden flooring and smooth plastered walls. The corridor wrapped around the bedroom and all the way to the small room Catherine had hidden the Soames diamonds in. A room which had also undergone a bit of a transformation.

                Skye and Star looked around, wide eyed, at the little room that now contained shelves and three chairs and was cosy and beautiful.

                ‘This room is now separate from the rest of the secret passageways,’ Summer explained. ‘We thought that the girls might enjoy being able to use the other passageways when we’re ready to show them. The renovations have made them safe and secure and I have promised Theron a thousand times that they won’t get lost in them,’ she assured her sisters. ‘But this room is separate and can only be accessed by us. For the moment.’

                Skye and Star nodded. ‘It’s perfect,’ they said together, each taking a seat in one of the chairs.

                ‘Have you brought them?’ Summer asked.

                The girls produced little velvet boxes and placed them on the table in between them. Star had brought the diadem she had worn on her wedding day, Skye the necklace and with a little bit of a heart-wrench, Summer twisted the beautiful engagement ring from her finger, before replacing her wedding ring.            

For the last five years, Summer and her sisters had been talking about the idea of returning the Soames Diamonds and Catherine’s journals to the secret room that had kept them safe for so many years. Unaccountably, each of the sisters felt strongly that it was the right thing to do and had decided to leave their own journals and letters for future generations of Soames women.

                For a while the sisters talked, caught up, shared the stories of their lives, laughed, cried and loved, until a text from Theron announced their return. The women placed the Soames Diamonds in a box on the shelf next to Catherine’s journals, and their own diaries. In the years to come, those shelves would become full with the writings from generations of Soames women, each telling their own stories of adversity and triumphs, losses, but most of all loves.

                But for now, Skye, Star and Summer left the room, locking it behind them and returning to their families, ready and waiting for Mariam and Kyros’s arrival.
 
Later that night, as Summer got ready for bed, Theron came out of the bathroom, a towel slung low on his hips and drying his hair with another, and she marvelled at just how handsome her husband was. Not once had their attraction dimmed, even through their occasional arguments and their even more occasional hurts, and Summer wanted her husband with the same ferocity as she had on the beach at Piraeus that first time.

                Theron’s gaze flickered from her eyes, to her ring finger and back again.

                ‘I’m sorry, I should have said—’

                He smiled, knowing and loving, the look in his eyes cutting her off mid-sentence. ‘You didn’t need to, agape mou,’ he said, kneeling on the bed, tossing the towel back into the bathroom and reaching in to the draw of his bedside table. He produced a small white box she’d not seen before. ‘I know. I see you. And I love you. More than anything in the world, Summer Soames. I am the proudest man alive that you chose me and I will spend every day being worthy of it.’

                Love bloomed in Summer’s heart, strong, powerful, fierce and determined. He opened the box to reveal a stunning diamond engagement ring. It was different to the Soames Diamond she had worn, but it was just as special to Summer.

                Before reaching for it, she placed her hand on her husbands. ‘Five years ago, I went to Greece, looking for a part of me that I knew was missing. A part that had felt missing my entire life. And there, in Athens, I found it. Not Kyros, not my father. But you, Theron Thiakos. You are the other half of me and you will always have me and my heart, in yours.’

                That night they made love until the sun crested on the horizon and not one of their family minded that they missed breakfast. Apart from Lykos, who grumbled about it for the rest of the day.

 
THE END            

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I was utterly thrilled to be able to explore the romances of the Soames sisters as they hunted for missing treasure. For me the fun, the sense of history, of serendipity, and sense of family were the tenets I wanted to hang their stories from. And secret passageways, hidden jewels, ancient journals, maps and coded messages was just some of the fabulous texture of their journeys. So, I couldn’t really let the story conclude without a little message of my own from me to you. And if you find you need a helping hand, why not take a quick read of 'Chapter One'.

I hope that you enjoyed the Diamond Inheritance Series as much as I loved writing it. Read on for the happy conclusion of Summer and Theron's story in The Greek Secret She Carried.

My best wishes to you and yours,

Xx 

Home of romance, passion and happy ever afters