“Fuzz won’t be pleased, but I could use a break.” I lift the growing kitten from my lap and lay him on my warm, vacated seat.
After the incident with Jack, Ty had my whole office redecorated. The furniture is new and arranged differently from before. Even the carpet and wall paint are new. The book covers have been repaired and are hanging on the wall again.
This office is brand-new, so I don’t have any bad memories here.
He thinks of everything.
“What’s up?” I cross to him and twine my arms around his neck, leaning in for a kiss.
“How do you feel about taking a walk? Getting some fresh air?”
I glance out the window and frown. “It’s raining.”
“I have an umbrella.” Something in his eyes looks uncertain.
“Are you okay?” I kiss him softly.
“I’m great. I’d just like to take you for a walk.”
“Okay, I’m game.”
He grins and pulls me out of the office, then bundles us both into coats and scarves, grabs a big, red umbrella, and leads me outside.
“It’s so weird that all the snow melted off.” I shuffle down the steps of the porch and wait for him to open the umbrella.
He holds it over us, grasps my hand with his free one, and guides me down the driveway to the path that leads to the bridge. “It’s been an odd fall, that’s for sure. When winter does finally set in, I’m afraid it’s going to be a doozy.”
“Doozy?” I tease him. “Who says doozy?”
“Okay, it’s going to be a bitch.” He laughs and kisses my forehead.
“As long as we have snow for Christmas, I’ll be happy.”
“I’m pretty sure you have nothing to worry about.”
We slosh through the rain on the paved trail to the bridge. It smells like wet leaves and winter. Despite its not being cold enough to snow, my cheeks are cold and we can see our breath in the cool air.
“It could snow tonight, if the temp drops,” I mention casually.
“Mmm.” I glance up at him, and he’s watching the path ahead, his eyes far away. I wonder what he’s thinking, but rather than intrude, I fall quiet and enjoy the walk.
We finally get to the top of the bridge, my favorite spot, and we stop to lean on the stone railing, watching the water below, the mountain ahead. The world is silent around us, aside from the rushing of the water.
It’s tranquil. Peaceful.
“I love this place.” I take a deep breath.
“I know.” He grins. He pulls me into his arms, hugging me in that special way he does, rocking us back and forth, still managing to hang on to the umbrella. “I have something to say, sweetness.”
“Okay,” I mumble against his chest, comfortable in his embrace. “Shoot.”
He pulls back so he can see my face, tucks a strand of hair that has escaped my hat behind my ear. “I love being your friend, Lo. Having you in my life and choosing to be your friend is the best thing I ever did. But falling in love with you has been effortless.”
I swallow hard as I watch him watch me, his mind moving a thousand miles a second.
He cups my face in his hands. “You have the best heart of anyone I’ve ever met in my life. You’re kind. You make me laugh when I’ve had the worst day, and your voice makes me want to listen to you for hours. You’re so fucking smart, Lo. What you’ve done with your writing makes me so proud, you inspire me to dream with my eyes wide-open.”
He clears his throat, his eyes fall to my lips as I lick them, then he finds my gaze again. “Your touch brings me to my knees, and I know that I’ll never, ever get enough of you.”
He drags his knuckles down my cheek as he gazes down at me with so much love in his eyes, my breath catches and I can just watch him, struck dumb.
“Being in love with someone is an unconditional commitment. To love someone isn’t just a feeling, it’s a decision that you make every day, no matter what happens. It’s a judgment. A promise.”
He backs away, lays the umbrella on the ground, and falls to one knee, taking my hand in his.
“That being said, I’m asking you here, in this place that means so much to you, to marry me. Be my wife. My partner. I love you, Lauren, today and every day for the rest of my life.”
He reaches into his coat pocket and pulls out folded papers and a black box, flips it open, and holds them up to me. “This is a prenup. I don’t want anything but you, sweetness. Be mine, always.”
Tears fill my eyes as I fall to my knees before him. I take the papers from his grasp, and rather than read them, I keep his gaze locked on my own as I tear them apart and toss them into the water below.
“My heart isn’t just mine, you know. It belongs to you too. It always will, Ty. I don’t need a prenup. I trust you with all of me. Of course I’ll marry you.”
He smiles down at me as he places the gorgeous, round diamond solitaire on my finger, then scoops me up into his arms, rising effortlessly to his feet and spinning in a circle, kissing me firmly.
“I love you so much, sweetness.”
“I love you too.”
He nuzzles my nose as he sets me on my feet. “It’s a good thing you said yes. Jilly’s already put my house on the market.”
“Pretty sure of yourself, weren’t you?”
“Hopeful, my love.” He picks up the umbrella, tucks my hand in his, and pulls me to his side, guiding me back toward home. “Very hopeful.”