Fuck the logical part of me.
I want to kick the shit out of that part of me. That’s the part of me who never took anything on faith. That's the part of me who always played it safe. That's the part of me who was always appropriate. I’m not that girl anymore.
So I take a leap of faith.
“I fucking love you,” I say. I wait, while time slows to a crawl, and he looks at me. I can’t read the expression on his face.
“Well, obviously,” he says, nodding toward the walls. “I mean, you basically created a damn shrine in my honor.”
“It's nice to see you’re still a prick,” I say. “At least I titled the exhibit accurately.”
Caulter smiles. “Yeah, nothing much has changed,” he says, sliding his arm around my waist and pulling me tight against him. My heart catches in my throat as he looks down at me. “I fucking love you too, Princess.”
THREE YEARS LATER
"Are you going to tell me where we're going?" she asks, her hand on her hip. "Seriously, how do I even know that I've packed appropriately?"
I shake my head. "Sorry, my lips are sealed," I tell her. "Do you trust me?"
She puts her finger to the corner of her mouth and pretends to think for a minute. "Hmm. That's debatable."
Sliding my arms around her waist, I kiss her gently on the tip of her nose, before moving down to her full lips. Her mouth parts and I kiss her hungrily, my cock stirring as soon as my tongue enters her.
I have to pull back and look at her for a minute. I can hardly believe my luck, being with Kate. When I saw her three years ago, standing there in the gallery surrounded by all of the sketches of me, I knew that was it. It was meant to be. That sounds corny as hell, but there you are.
I’m a changed man, and it’s all Kate’s doing.
I didn’t believe in happily ever afters. Lord knows that Ella has never been a great model for that. She’s back to dating rock stars, which is no big surprise. Her boyfriend Viper just moved in; the place in Malibu is back to being painted black again. This time, it's covered in animal prints and silver skull decor.
With my track record, I’m more surprised than anyone that I ended up here with Kate, the girl I used to love to hate. Three years ago, I was done playing games with her. We were both done playing games with each others’ hearts. Now, we save the games for the bedroom. I mean, in three years, I haven’t even set fire to her clothing at all.
Kate slaps me playfully on the chest. “What?” she asks. “Do I have something in my teeth? You’re staring at me and it’s freaking me out.”
“I’m just thinking that I’m happy,” I say. I really am. The eighteen-year-old Caulter would never have imagined being able to say that; I don’t even think I could have fathomed what it meant to be happy. Now, I’m bursting at the seams with it.
That whole cup runneth over thing? That’s me. And in my work life too. It turns out that I have some intuitive business sense. I'm using my trust fund to invest in small business, start-up companies that are doing meaningful things in the world. And that makes me feel good.
“Oh yeah?” Kate asks, smiling. She slides her hands over my chest, smoothing out the fabric of my t-shirt. “What are you so happy about? Is it our trip to...the Caribbean?”
I laugh. “Nice try. You’ll know soon enough,” I tell her.
“How exactly do you think you’re going to get me through the airport without me knowing where we’re going?” she asks.
I raise my eyebrows. “Private plane,” I say. The plane is Ella’s doing. She might not be the most traditional -- or stable -- mother ever, but she knows how to come through in a pinch. And that does count for something.
“Ella gave you her plane?” she asks. Her hands run down my arms, and I pull her closer to me, inhaling deeply, my nose at the side of her neck. I love her smell; it’s like being home.
“She didn’t give it to me permanently,” I say. “But this is a special, special occasion.”
Kate laughs. “I didn’t win a Nobel Prize,” she says. “I just graduated from college.”
I kiss down the side of her neck, and she squirms, letting out a soft moan. I don’t tell her that this trip is not about her college graduation. “It is a big deal,” I say. “I didn’t go to college.”
“You could if you still want to,” she says.
I’m actually thinking about it. But not right now. Right now, I want to be with Kate. I want to start a life with her.