Corinne awoke to find Richard gazing at her with an expression that could melt butter.
“Oh, my love,” she whispered, so gratified to see his face, so utterly elated to know that there would be no problems with them sharing their lives together now.
Instead of replying, Richard leant down and tenderly brushed his lips against hers.
She kissed back instantly, and was so overpowered by her relief and her love for him that she almost forgot to breathe. When Richard withdrew she stared up at him in ecstasy and sat up to immediately kiss him once more.
After this beautiful, indescribable moment Corinne silently slid off the bed and padded through the manor to find a maid. Richard followed and each time she cast a glance backwards at his face she found a smile there, so wide and so open that she desired to turn and kiss him on the spot. She found Samantha and asked if she might take breakfast here. Samantha, who beamed when she saw Richard’s expression, told her that she might and Corinne led Richard into the kitchen. She was about to take her seat when Richard sat upon the chair first and pulled her onto his lap.
“Is that more comfortable, my lady?” he asked, murmuring the words very close to her ear.
Corinne trembled pleasantly at his proximity.
“Yes, my lord,” she replied. “Thank you.”
“You know, it really wasn’t necessary for you to ask Samantha if you could take breakfast here,” he told her, leaning away a little and toying with her hair.
“Well, she has been so upset by my relationship with Eric that I thought it polite. Also, I feel that I could run around Periville and shout to everyone that you and I are truly together now.”
Richard chuckled. “I suppose that makes sense. Though I would rather be selfish and keep you in my company at Dachshund Manor than allow you to spend time darting around the town.”
Corinne smiled. “That would not be selfish, my lord. Another part of me wants exactly the same.”
At that moment Samantha entered, followed by a very happy-looking chef.
“What will the two of you be having?” she asked, giving both Richard and Corinne a large smile.
“I shall have a bowl of coffee and share whichever breakfast Corinne chooses,” Richard replied.
The chef turned to Corinne, still smiling.
“I shall have a bowl of apple juice and may we have some fried bacon and eggs?”
“Of course you may,” the chef replied. She turned to Samantha. “Samantha, my dear, I won’t require your help today. You may go ... unless Lord Richard desires anything.”
Samantha looked at Richard as the chef set about preparing breakfast, asking, “My lord?”
Corinne regarded Richard too - merely for the pleasure it brought her - and his expression was momentarily thoughtful before his face lit up and he answered, “Could you bring me the diamond ring in the first drawer of the table by my bedside?” he asked.
Samantha disappeared and Corinne looked at Richard in admiration.
“The ring you presented to me when you proposed?” she inquired.
Richard nodded, his smile now mysterious.
“The very same.”
Corinne looked away from Richard’s face, saying, “I wish I had not given it you back.”
“I do not mind,” Richard said, surprising her.
She glanced back at him but found no hint of a joke in his features.
“If you had not refused me completely, there would have been no chance of the resolution of the problems we found last night.”
Corinne broke out into a smile.
“Oh! Well then I feel a little less guilty. I hate the thought that I hurt you, though.”
Richard kissed her briefly upon her lips.
“Do not think of such things then. What matters now is that we never upset each other again.”
“It is true,” Corinne said, nodding sincerely.
Samantha entered the kitchen and gave Richard the ring. He allowed her to leave and then asked Corinne to stand.
Curious, she rose to her feet, wondering why Richard should ask her to do such a thing.
She was given her answer when in the next moment Richard descended to one knee on the floor before her and asked, “Corinne Kingfisher, will you marry me?”
“You have already asked,” she replied, laughing.
Richard looked seriously into her eyes.
“When I asked, I was a fool and I was desperate for your happiness. This time, I ask knowing that I can love you and treat you in the manner that you deserve to be treated. On this occasion, I am asking from the very bottom of my heart.”
Corinne smiled a soft yet expressive smile at Richard and replied, “Then yes. Yes, I will marry you. I know that I shall adore sharing the rest of my life with you.”
Richard looked seriously like he was happier than any other man in the world and he kissed Corinne’s hand several times - filling her with even greater joy than she had felt during his explanation of this second proposal - before taking her finger and sliding the ring along it until it rested comfortably near the base. He rose to her feet and kissed her upon the mouth.
“I love you,” he told her as he had done the night before.
Deciding against the customary response of “I love you too”, Corinne murmured, “My heart is singing for you.”
Richard sat once more on the chair at the table and pulled her down upon his knees, holding her gently but firmly, telling her, “You have made my dreams come true.”