Excerpt: 'Love Always, Petra' by Petra Nemcova

The next morning, Christmas, we woke up late, and went to the beach, where we spent the day. We swam, we read, and we played. We found a coconut and tossed it around like a football. We took a stick and played tic-tac-toe and hangman in the sand. Everything was laid-back; we were like kids. We sat on the beach in the late afternoon talking about the future. I asked Simon what his wishes were now, what he wanted to accomplish next. He thought a moment and then answered.

"Everything I dreamed of doing, I've done. I think I've achieved all my goals."

Just before dinner we called our family and friends. Simon spoke to his mother and his sister, Jodi. He told them how much he loved Thailand and how much he loved them.

"I'm so happy," he said, "and I'm so in love." He looked at me with his beautiful blue eyes and handed me the phone.

"You should see Siddy," I said. Siddy was Simon's nickname. "His eyes are shining."

That night we had dinner on the beach on plastic tables underneath a roof of palm leaves. There was a barbecue pit made from half a tin drum. We had fresh fish grilled with delicious Thai spices, chicken satay on skewers with delectable peanut sauce, and many varieties of vegetables and fruits. I've dined in five-star restaurants around the world, but none were better than this feast.

After the meal we sat at the plastic table and talked by candlelight. We looked out at the ocean and at the stars shining in the dark sky. I brought up the subject of children, and for the first time, we spoke about how many we would have together. We decided that we'd have two and adopt at least one. We had been talking about marriage for a while, and Simon had asked me for a signal to let him know he could propose. We established that when I started talking about children, it would be an indication that I was ready for marriage. Children became our "c"-word. It wasn't a question of "commitment"; it was a matter of timing. I wanted to continue my modeling for a while. Whenever I talked about children, and the subject came up often because I adore them, Simon would smile and say, "Be careful, Petra, that's the forbidden word." That evening he didn't say anything. It was a confirmation that both of us were ready.

We went back to our little bungalow, where we curled up together on the bed and watched movies. Because I grew up under a communist regime and was unfamiliar with Hollywood films, Simon was giving me a crash course in great old movies. One of my presents was a DVD of White Christmas. We put it on and cuddled. We saw about a quarter of the movie before we turned out the lights and fell asleep in each other's arms.

At 7:30 the next morning Simon woke me with soft kisses.

"Do you want to finish the movie or go for a walk on the beach?" he asked.

"Let's watch for half an hour, then we can go to the beach."

We turned on the TV and watched, cuddling and spooning. We didn't watch it all because we wanted to go for an early morning stroll, something that we hadn't yet done. We got dressed, left the bungalow, and headed toward the water. How beautiful and still the morning was! The warm sunshine kept us company as we walked along the beach. The tide was quite low. I knew there was a full moon around that time and that the moon moves the waters around the world, so I didn't pay much attention.

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