He leaned forward and kissed her to shut her up. Pulling back only a fraction, he held her gaze. “It’s perfect. You’re perfect.”
She bit her lower lip and smiled. “Good. Let’s get up. I’ve got something in my bag for Petunia before she gets picked up—”
“She’s not getting picked up.”
“No,” he said. “I called Sally and said the cat had to stay because I have a mouse problem.”
She choked out a laugh. “You didn’t.”
“I didn’t,” he agreed. “I told Sally the cat had to stay because she belonged here in this house, that I’d fallen in love several times over and I needed both my girls here with me.”
Willa let out a shaky breath. “I’m not going to get tired of hearing that anytime soon.”
They both looked over at Pita sitting in the doorway. “She’s demanding sustenance,” Keane said.
Willa laughed and slid off him. “I’ll go feed her. I’ll be right back.”
He heard her move into the kitchen. Heard her pad to the bin of cat food and stop.
He knew why. Knew exactly what she’d found. And two seconds later she came racing back into the room, a blur of red hair and soft, sweet skin as she jumped him for the second time that morning.
Straddling him, she beamed down at him, her eyes shimmering brilliantly.
“What?” he asked innocently.
She held out the robin egg blue box. “Tiffany’s?”
“Are you going to quiz me or open it?”
She slipped the silver ribbon off the box and slowly lifted the lid. Gasped. “Oh my God,” she whispered as she gaped at the platinum chain with a W encrusted in diamonds. “You remembered about the necklace my mom gave me when I was little.” Tears gathered in her eyes as she let him put it around her neck.
This one was most certainly not going to turn her neck green.
“It’s beautiful,” she said, staring down at it. “It’s the most thoughtful gift anyone’s ever given me.”
“Looks good on you.” He pulled her over him and softly caressed her until she pulled back.
“Have you ever made love beneath a Christmas tree?” she murmured.
“No, but I’m in.” Catching her against him he rose and then threw her over his shoulder in a fireman’s hold, palming a sweet cheek. “I’m all about starting a new tradition.”
She was laughing as he carried her to the still undecorated tree and together they crawled beneath it to lie on their backs. Her hand slipped in his as they stared up at the tangle of branches. “To new beginnings,” she said.
He came up on an elbow and cupped her face. “Forever, Willa?”
She tugged him over the top of her. “Forever.”
Read on for a sneak peek at Willa’s story in
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It was a good thing Elle Wheaton loved being in charge and ordering people around because if it wasn’t for the thrill of having both those things in her job description, she absolutely didn’t get paid enough to handle all the idiots in her world. “Last night was a disaster,” she said.
Her boss, not looking nearly as concerned as she, nodded absently. He was many things and one of them was the owner of the building in which they stood, located in the Cow Hollow district of San Francisco.
A detail he preferred to keep to himself. In fact, only one other person knew his identity, but as the building’s general manager, Elle alone handled everything and was always his go-between. The calm, kickass go-between, if she said so herself, although what had happened last night had momentarily shaken some of her calm.
“I have faith in you,” he said.
She slid him a look. “In other words, ‘fix it, Elle, because I don’t want to be bothered about it.’ ”
“Well, and that,” he said with a smile.
She refused to be charmed. Yes, they were best friends and yes she loved him, but her love most definitely had limits. “Maybe I should recap the disaster for you,” she said. “First, the little lights in every emergency-exit sign in the entire building went out at midnight and then stayed out so that when Mrs. Winslow in 3D went to take her geriatric dog out in the middle of the night, she couldn’t find the stairwell. Cut to Blackie then letting loose in the hall just as Mr. Nottingham from 4A—who was sneaking out of his mistress’s apartment in 3F—slipped in the mess.”
“You can’t make this stuff up,” he said, still smiling.
Elle crossed her arms. “Mr. Nottingham broke his ankle, requiring an ambulance ride and a possible lawsuit. And you’re amused.”
“Come on, Elle. You and I both know life sucks golf balls if you let it. Gotta find the fun somewhere.” Spence handed her a hot tea. “Here. You look like you’re down a quart.”
“My life isn’t normal.”
“Forget normal,” he said. “Normal’s overrated. Now drink your favorite poison—caffeine.”
“Hey, I could survive without it if I needed to,” she protested and then paused. “I just can’t guarantee anyone else’s safety.”
“Exactly, so why take chances?”
She smiled but she was still taking what had happened last night personally. She knew everyone in this building, each and every business on the first and second floor, each tenant on the third and fourth floor, and she felt responsible for all of it.
And someone had been hurt on her watch. Unacceptable. “You do realize that the fire system equipment falls under security,” she said. “Which means our security company failed us.”
Spence’s amusement faded. “Elle—”
“No, listen, a year ago now you sought me out for this job, making me your chief CYA. Part of Covering Your Ass means this is my problem to handle as I see fit. And we both know I’m very good at what I do. And what I’m going to do is go discuss this matter with the head of our security company, one pain-in-my-ass Archer Hunt.”
Spencer grimaced. “At least let me clear the building before you two go at each other.”
“There won’t be a fight,” she said. “I’m simply doing my job running this building and that includes managing our security company.”