“It’s called being ornery.”
“Yeah,” he said. “We’re a good match there.” He pointed to their audience, mostly his family and Lucille, as if to say Don’t you dare comment.
Olivia snorted and he smiled. “And I love that you don’t put up with my shit.” He cupped her face. “And God, I especially love the way you look at me.”
“Like you’re crazy?”
He flashed a grin. “Yeah. That. You tried to save me, remember?”
Like she could forget. “But you didn’t need saving,” she reminded him.
“Yeah, I did. I just didn’t know it. But that’s not the point.”
“No. It’s that you went for it. You gave me you.”
Their audience gave a collective sigh and Olivia’s eyes filled. It was too much, so much. Everything. “Cole—”
“I love you, Olivia. I love who you were, and I love who you are. I love everything about you.”
She blinked. “Everything, except…”
“No exceptions,” he said, voice low but fierce. “I just want to be the man you can be yourself with.”
“That’s a lot for me.”
She thought about how she’d felt when she’d thought they were over, how her heart had cracked into pieces. “I’ve recently learned that it’s never too much, not with you.”
He brought their joined hands up to brush a kiss over her knuckles. “You only need to tell me when you need space.”
“What if I want you in my space?”
He smiled. “I like the sound of that. A whole hell of a lot. My world doesn’t work without you in it, Olivia. I missed you.” He pulled her into him from head to toe, and every glorious thing in between, and she became aware of one particular part that missed her more than the others.
She lifted her gaze and met his. “What am I going to do with you?”
He dipped his head and brushed his mouth to her ear. “I have a few suggestions,” he whispered.
She laughed and then dropped her head to his chest. “No, seriously. What am I going to do with you?”
“Keep me?” He tilted her head up, and his grin was gone. “Listen, I know I’m not very good at this, keeping the right woman in my life. That’s because I’ve never had her before. But that woman is you, Olivia. I’m willing to work on it, even beg you for a learning curve if I have to.”
She felt her throat tighten. “Oh, you’re most definitely better at this than you think.”
His thumbs stroked her jaw. “Is that a yes?”
“I didn’t hear a question.”
“Neither did I!” Lucille turned to the audience. “Did any of you hear a question?”
A resounding “no” went through the crowd, but Cole had eyes only for Olivia. “Will you give me another shot at your heart, Olivia Bentley?”
She smiled. “Not necessary. You already own it.”