Roman (Raleigh Raptors 2) - Page 78

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Slowly, I brought my lips to hers and kissed her with all the love in my soul. “I love you. Am I happy that you put yourself in danger? Hell no. You’d kick my ass if I did something like this.”

“True,” she admitted, scrunching her nose.

“But you took control of your life and got him the hell out of it, and I can’t be pissed about that. I’m so damned proud of you.”

She started crying in earnest, and I wrapped my arms around her, pulling her against my chest. “I was so scared.” The words were muffled against my shirt.

“I bet you were. Gotta say, that was a damned good hit with the frying pan. Remind me not to ever buy cast iron for our kitchen.” I tucked her under my chin and smiled despite the myriad of emotions beating their way through me, all demanding to be felt first.

She pulled back and looked up at me with watery eyes. “Does that still mean you want me?”

My smile widened. “Baby, you could hit me upside the head with a frying pan, and I’d still want you. I’ll want you until the day I die, and then I’ll sit on the other side, still wanting you.” Eventually, I’d get over the need to scream my throat raw at her for what she’d put herself through, but loving her was way more important than scolding her for a choice that was never mine to make.

“So I can have my ring back?” She sniffled.

I tugged on the chain around my neck, and the ring popped free of my collar. “It’s right here. I might have given up hope—you’re pretty damned convincing, but I was never going to stop fighting to win you back.”

“You never lost me,” she swore as I took it off the chain.

“Promise me you’ll never keep something like that from me again, no matter if you think you’re protecting me or not,” I said, pausing with the ring at the tip of her finger. “I can’t live through that again, Teagan.” The bruises on her throat would fade, but the memories of what I’d heard through the phone as I raced toward her apartment, what I’d seen on that streamed video…those would haunt me for the rest of my life.

“I promise,” she vowed, nodding her head.

“Promise me we’ll never walk out on each other. That no matter what, we’ll talk it out and work it out.” I lifted my eyebrows at her.

“I promise.” Another enthusiastic nod.

“Promise me that when push comes to shove, we’ll protect each other together. Don’t ever forget that I’m yours to protect, but you’re mine, too.” My voice broke at the thought of what could have happened.

At how close we’d come to losing it all.

“We’ll do it together,” she swore.

I sucked in a breath, my heart skipping with the knowledge that this was real. There was no broken heart. No lonely nights. There was just us. “Anything you’d like me to promise?”

She drew her tongue across her lower lip and narrowed her eyes in thought.

I prepared myself for the worst.

“Promise me you’ll never stop doing that thing with your tongue—” she started.

I kissed her hard, careful to mind her injuries.

“Every part of me belongs to you,” I promised and slipped the ring back on her finger where it belonged.

Where it would always stay.


Six Months Later


“I used to make Roman play this game when we were younger,” I said as my hands trembled around the piece of paper I held.

I looked out on the crowd of people—family and friends dressed in their finest—sitting atop white chairs that were gathered in perfect rows in the gardens. The warm summer sky was clear above us, and the sun kissed my bare back as I stood at the altar across from Roman.

“House,” I continued with my vows. “But I’d always make him marry me first.” I laughed a teary laugh, and Roman smiled down at me, the memory showing in his eyes.

“I never had to beg that hard, though,” I said, grinning up at him. “And I wonder if it’s because even then, all those years ago, our hearts knew. Our souls knew. That we’d end up right here, just as we were supposed to be.”

Roman visibly swallowed, water lining his eyes.

“You’ve always been my heart, Roman Padilla,” I said, folding the paper and focusing entirely on him. “And I promise to take care of you, through ups and downs, fumbles and TDs.” The crowd laughed again, and Roman begrudgingly rolled his eyes as he shook his head. “I promise to love you unconditionally and wholly. No matter what.”

“Roman,” the officiate said, motioning to Roman.

“You’re right, T,” he said, launching into his own vows. “You didn’t have to beg me to play that game.”

I swallowed hard, my heart soaring for this moment, this day.

Tags: Samantha Whiskey Raleigh Raptors Romance