“And then you proposed to me so you could date me.” I laughed, stroking Hufflepuff’s fur to help calm my roaring heart. “And every single day with you was better than the last. Better than any days prior to you coming into my life, happy as I was. And I found myself falling so incredibly hard for you, that I panicked. I was terrified of losing that control in my life. Losing that part of me that had kept me alive and thriving all these years. Panicked that if I gave you my heart you’d have the power to crush it.”
Tears coated my eyes.
“And I was afraid of having to choose again. Between my career and you. Because I knew what my business-self wanted, but me? My heart…I only want you. I’ve never loved anyone, Axel, the way I love you. Unconditionally. Wild and reckless and consuming. You make me a better, stronger woman. You bring out the best in me and have handled me at my worst. And I hate that I didn’t go to Sweden. Hate that I was here, trying to ensure our Reaper family was safe here while you took care of our family in Sweden. I was split in two. And I made the wrong call.” I took a deep breath.
“And I’m sorry I never said it. Never told you. Because I do love you, Axel. I love your heart, which is so much bigger than you ever let people see. I love your mind, how calculative you can be on the ice and how considerate you can be off of it. I love the way you are with our cats, this giant of a man being manipulated by two balls of fluff.” I laughed a bit, the tears rolling down my cheeks. “I love the way you make me laugh. I love when you speak to me in a language I can’t understand. I love the way you are with your family…and I’m just…hoping that I might still have a shot at being a part of it.” I lifted the lid off the third dish between us, revealing the divorce papers I’d shredded and placed there. “Because I want you, Axel. Forever. And I’ll cut back on the work if that is what it takes. I sent Faith today because you were more important than what Silas wants—”
“No, min enda kärlek,” he cut me off and suddenly he wasn’t across the table anymore but on his knees before me, gently lifting Hufflepuff from my lap and depositing her on the floor. “I don’t want you to stop doing what you love.” He cupped my face in his hands. “I just want you. All of you.”
Tears flowed freely, soaking his fingers as I leaned my forehead against his.
“I love you,” I said again because he deserved to hear it, to feel it until he knew how true it was.
Morning light streamed through the windows as I quietly made my way downstairs. Langley was still asleep, buried under a mountain of covers. I’d only been awake long enough to brush my teeth and lament the fact that all of my clothes were next door at Lukas’s.
Unlike my wife, sleeping in wasn’t something the cats did well, so here I was at seven a.m., feeding them breakfast as per their demand, in my boxer briefs. Once the little lionesses were fed, I started some coffee and headed for the refrigerator. I pulled out eggs, bacon, and cheddar cheese, then shook my head at the lack of vegetables.
Good thing I was home or Langley would have ended up eating frozen...well, everything.
I was back at the fridge, hoping to find anything that was intentionally green when I felt her hands slip around my stomach.
“You’re up early,” she said, resting her cheek against my back.
I clasped my hand over hers and sent up yet another prayer of thanks that those papers hadn’t been filed. “The cats told me that they’d been starved and feared that emaciation was imminent.”
She laughed and pressed a kiss to my skin. “You mean it had been twelve hours since they’d been fed?”
“Exactly,” I answered, shutting the refrigerator and slowly turning to my wife. My wife. Last night felt like a dream, like a self-indulgent fantasy where I was handed everything I wanted. It had been perfect—the kind you didn’t trust in the light of day. But the sun was shining, Langley’s makeup was slightly smudged from the night before, her hair was in a rumpled fall of silk, and her satin robe was tied haphazardly.
She was achingly, beautifully imperfect, and real enough to feel under my hands as I cupped her cheeks and tilted her face so I could see her eyes.
“You meant it last night?” I asked softly, scared to break the dream if that’s what this was.