Frayed Page 110

’’I do,’’ I say.

Pulling S\elle to my side, I reach over the valet stand and grab my keys. ’’I\ll bring them right back.’’

’’But, sir, you can\ do that,’’ the valet calls.

S\elle turns. ’’He locked his keys in his car.’’

I laugh and bend to whisper in her ear, ’’They\ e in my hand. How could I have locked them in my car?’’

She shrugs. ’’I know that, but he\s still trying to figure it out.’’

’’Silver tongue,’’ I joke. God, I missed her.

A slight giggle escapes her and when I stop at the car I have to take a moment to admire her. This girl has occupied so much space in my mind for so long and I had no idea why. But I do now. It\s because she\s perfect for me we are perfect for each other. I just hope she feels the same way.

I pop my trunk and pull out the large red box that I loaded before I left my house. ’’This is a little late, but Merry Christmas.’’

Her expression falls. ’’I can\ take this.’’

’’Please, S\elle, just open it. It will help me explain.’’

She sighs and sets it on the ledge of the hatch. ’’Ben, I think we need to talk.’’

’’And we will as soon as you open this.’’ I push it toward her.

Her hands hang at her sides.

I lift her chin and stare at her with an intensity that I hope conveys just a little bit of how much I care about her. ’’Please.’’

She looks down at the box and then back up to me.

I nod, my eyes pleading with her.

With resignation she pulls the box toward her and lifts the lid.

I breathe deep as she stares inside the box and pulls out its contents one after the other red, black, white, green, gold. Cloth napkins from every restaurant I\ve eaten at since I saw her stash in the parking lot of the Biltmore Hotel.

She glances up at me with a puzzled look on her face.

I pull her closer to me. ’’You said you wanted more than just tomorrow. I\m shit with explaining my feelings, but I had this gift ready for you weeks ago. I want you to see that I never only thought of you in terms of just the next day. To me there was always more. I just didn\ know how to tell you. S\elle, I think about you all the time. Everywhere I go, everything I do. F*k, I even steal napkins because they remind me of you. Look, I know I can be an ass**le, but I can promise you more than just tomorrow if you let me.’’

She crushes her lips to mine.

I close my eyes and savor the sensation of her body pressed against mine soft, warm, and tender. Then I wrap my arms around her and pull her as close as I can so I can feel all of her every single inch. When we\ e both breathless I lean back. ’’There\s more in the box.’’

She reaches for it and removes the rest of the napkins before pulling out the shiny key from the bottom. She looks up at me. ’’A key?’’

I nod. ’’To my house. I want you to move in with me. That\s what I was talking to Kale about that day you overheard us. How to ask you.’’

Her mouth drops open in shock. ’’I can\ do that.’’

’’Why?’’

’’I I I\ve never lived with a guy,’’ she stammers.

I grin at her. At how f**king adorable she is. I open her hand and place the key in her palm before closing her fingers one by one. ’’Lucky for you I\m not just any guy. I love you and I want you to live with me. Say yes?’’

My breath stops as I look down at the myriad of emotions crossing her face.

Her hand slides up my chest to my cheek. Tears glisten in her eyes and she closes them tightly.

’’S\elle, open your eyes. Did you hear me? I know I\m really shitty at this relationship stuff. I\m nowhere near perfect and I never will be. I\m not a heart-and-flowers kind of guy. I don\ even know how to be one . . . but I\m the guy who will love you with everything I have.

’’I can\ bear to be away from you. I want you near me all the time. Not just in my bed but I want you sitting across from me at dinner, I want to go to the market with you, I want to do everything with you. I want to be the one who makes you smile for no reason. I want to be the one you can\ stop thinking about. I want to be the one who rocks your world.’’

She opens her eyes. A shiver passes through her before she finally speaks. ’’Ben Covington, you\ve rocked my world from the first time I laid eyes on you. I love you too,’’ she says, her words hoarse and soft.

Bending down closer to her mouth, I whisper, ’’Is that a yes? You\ll move in with me?’’

’’Yes.’’ She throws her arms around my neck.

’’Yes!’’ I crouch down so we are eye to eye and grin at her. My hands move to her hips to hold her close against me.

’’I can\ believe Misty was right.’’

’’Misty?’’

’’A fortune-teller. Never mind, you\d never believe me,’’ she giggles.

I kiss the corner of her lip, taste it, tug on it. ’’You\ e crazy. Just the kind of crazy I need in my life.’’

She laughs.

Then her expression turns serious. ’’I\m sorry for bringing up Dahlia. I never really thought that at all. I don\ really know what was going on with me.’’

’’Shhh . . . ,’’ I whisper, and place my finger over her mouth. ’’We can talk about all that, talk about everything, but first I want to kiss you.’’

Her lips part and I lower my mouth to hers. I kiss her more softly this time, sweeter, maybe full of love. When she moans I can\ hold back my own groan. I want her so much. I need her so much. But instead of throwing her in the backseat of my car and taking her here as I really want to, I decide we should go back upstairs. I have to make things right with her family. I know it isn\ going to be easy, but I also know I love her enough to do it.


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