“What about them? Your sisters have been rooting for us to get together for years. Nate knows—or at least he knows about how I feel for you—and he’s never said anything other than for me to be careful. I’m not sure that Cam and Colt care, to be honest. As for our parents . . . well, I don’t know about them. What do you think?”
I give her a smile, and I’m instantly rewarded when her full lips tip up and she gives me one of her own. “Baby, I think that, when I get home, your father is going to kick my ass, because there is no way I can give this up. Here is my honesty. You ready?”
She nods her head.
“I want you to think about this from every angle, because that’s what I’ve been trying to do. I would be damn proud to have you on my arm, in my bed, and to share my life with. I understand it’s going to be a fight when it comes to your dad, but that’s a fight I’ll take if you’re by my side. Our moms, yeah . . . that’s not something you need to worry about. Trust me, baby. They’ll start planning a wedding the second you and I let them know where we stand. My dad just wants me to be happy. And I guarantee you he will have my back when it comes to your dad. As for Nate, we don’t need to worry about him either. I’ll handle him. Sounds like my sisters aren’t going to be a problem, and my brothers will be right there with Lyn and Lila.”
I pause and shift our bodies so that she is lying under my body, her legs spread wide and her hips welcoming the pressure of my own. “The only issue I have here is knowing that I’m leaving tomorrow, and in doing so, I’m leaving you and what is most definitely starting between us. I’m not the type of man who likes knowing that his woman is alone, and if you needed me, I wouldn’t be here. I don’t like knowing that, if you’re sad, I can’t make it better. If you’re sick, I won’t be there to make you better. If you’re scared, I can’t chase away your nightmares. Bottom line, I won’t be there for you, and that isn’t something a man like me can stomach easily.” I drop my head, give her a small kiss, and pull away, looking into her bright and hopeful eyes. “But, Dani-girl, I’m also a selfish man, because even knowing all of that, it doesn’t make a difference. It’s you and me, baby. You and me against the world.”
I wipe the tear that leaks out of her eye before it can trail down her cheek to the radiant and very happy smile that has spread across her lips. Even when I drop mine to hers, the smile remains. And later—much later—when she is moaning my name, it still never slips.
My girl, my Dani-girl, is happy.
“You’re mine?” she asks.
“Yeah, baby. And you’re mine.”
With a full but heavy heart, I hold her all night long. My eyes never once leave her sleeping—and still-smiling—face. I memorize every inch of her, from the way she feels in my arms to how she smells like wildflowers in the rain. When she moans in her sleep and huskily whispers my name, I know that, when I leave tomorrow, I’ll be fighting every instinct I have to run back to her. It’s going to be an uphill battle, but this will be one worth every second of yearning, because in the end, when I come home and she’s right back in my arms, I’ll be the luckiest bastard alive.
IT’S HARD TO SEE THROUGH the tears clouding my vision. To see through the sadness my heart feels as I watch him get dressed. Watching him pack his things. Pull on his boots or grab his jacket. All the things I won’t be watching again for months. Little, mundane tasks I’m trying to sear into my mind so I’ll never forget. How his fingers look when he’s hooking his belt through his jeans. How his brow furrows when he’s trying to figure out how to get a little more space out of his carry-on. Even though I know he will come back to me, knowing that we’re starting something so beautiful off with a big, ugly fog surrounding us has me in pieces.
He looks over when he finishes zipping the last zipper and gives me a sad smile. I’m sure my eyes are looking at him exactly as his are gazing into mine. Like this is it and if we don’t see each other again, then we should make this second last a lifetime.
I bring a hand up and angrily swipe away a tear. I hate crying. It’s a sign of weakness, but I’m helpless to stop them. My heart, while full to bursting with the knowledge that he is mine, is breaking.
“Dani-girl,” he says on a sigh. “You’re killing me with these tears.”
He sits on the bed and pulls me into his arms. When his strong arms wrap around me and the comfort that always comes when he’s near sinks into my skin, I only cry more.