Sweet Temptation

Page 41

She raised her gaze to him, her lips trembling. “Okay.”

Suddenly nervous, he stood and began to pace back and forth in front of her.

“I loved Hannah. You know that. David and I both loved her. I thought I’d spend the rest of my life with her. That was always my plan.

“When I lost her, a part of me shut down. All I could think about was getting away from a place where I saw her at every turn. I left Miami because I wanted to start a new life in a place where no one knew me and I wasn’t faced with unhappy memories on a daily basis.”

“I understand,” she said in a quiet voice.

“I didn’t think about you, Angel. I don’t say that to hurt you. To me you were still the sixteen-year-old sister of my best friend. To think about you meant I had to think about David and I wanted my past behind me.

“And then you walked back into my life, only you weren’t a teenager. You weren’t a schoolgirl, nor were you my best friend’s little sister. You were a gorgeous woman with a sexuality to match my own. But you were also the embodiment of everything I wanted to forget.

“I looked at you and I ached. I wanted you, but I also wanted you to go away. I didn’t want to let you into my life because I didn’t want to love again. I didn’t want to risk losing someone I cared about. It was a lot easier to approach sex in a casual, fun way. No strings. No love. No relationships. I wasn’t celibate in the three years since Hannah’s death. Far from it. But I never gave away any part of myself in the process. Until you.”

A tear slipped down her cheek as she stared up at him.

“You were right, Angel. I didn’t want to want you. God, I fought it. I told myself all kinds of lies when it came to you. I told myself it was just sex. I told myself I could let you go when it was all said and done. I resented you for inserting yourself so fully into my life, and then one day I realized I couldn’t imagine my life without you.

“And then when Chad took you, I was so damn scared. I was scared I’d lose you. I was scared he’d hurt you. I was scared I’d never get to tell you how much I goddamn love you. I was scared I’d never get to tell you how sorry I am for leaving you alone after David died and how sorry I am for pushing you away when all you did was love me.”

No longer able to keep his distance from her, he sat on the bed and turned so he faced her. His hands covered hers and he pulled them to his chest.

“I don’t want to live without you, Angel. I want it all. I want you. I want our baby. I want us to be a family. I want you to love me as much as I love you, and I want to spend the rest of my life proving that love to you.”

A sob escaped and more tears trickled down her cheeks. She made no move to wipe them away. She shook almost violently, and he couldn’t tell if it was from upset or a true chill, but he pulled her into his arms anyway.

His shoulders shook as he gripped her almost desperately against his heart. His breaths came out in a short staccato that had him feeling light-headed.

He kissed her hair over and over, and he prayed. Prayed she’d give him another chance.

Knowing he had more he needed to say, he carefully pulled her away, and his own eyes stung as he saw how ravaged her face was.

“I know I have a lot to prove to you, Angel. I know you’re probably thinking a lot of crazy things right now. Like whether I’m saying all this because I feel guilty about Chad. Or whether I’m only saying it because of the baby. I can’t convince you of my sincerity in an hour or even a day. What I want, what I need, is for you to give us a chance. Stay with me here in Houston. Let’s take it one day at a time. I want it all, baby. I want you to marry me. I want us to have lots of babies. But I won’t pressure you. I want you to be with me because you absolutely know that I love you more than life. When you know that, that’s when I want you to commit to being with me forever. But until then, I just want a chance. I want you to stay with me so I can take care of you and our baby. And one day I want you to marry me. When you’re ready and when you trust me fully.”

“Oh, Micah,” she said in a tear-choked voice. “I love you so much. Are you sure you’re ready for this? Are you sure you want me to stay here?”

“I want it more than I want to live. Give us that chance, Angel. Just say yes you’ll stay. We can work everything else out in time.”

She went into his arms, wrapping herself so sweetly around his body that he closed his eyes at the exquisite joy of just holding her again.

“I love you. I want this to work. I want us to work, but I want you to be sure, Micah.”

“I want us both to be sure,” he said solemnly as he pulled her away to stare down into her eyes. “I’m not going to change my mind, and in time you’ll know that, I promise. Until then, just promise me you’ll keep loving me and take it one day at a time.”

She smiled, her eyes all watery and red, her nose swollen and her lips ravaged from her nervous chewing on them, and she’d never looked so beautiful to him than right now.

“Okay,” she whispered. “I’ll stay.” She looked down and smoothed a hand over her stomach. “We’ll stay.”

He closed his eyes, and for a moment he simply couldn’t breathe around the knot of emotion welling in his throat. He tried to speak, tried to tell her how damn much he loved her, but nothing would come out. God, he loved her.

He put his hand over hers at her stomach. “Are you happy about the baby, Angel?”

She smiled again. “I love her already. She’ll be just like me and drive her daddy crazy.”

“God help me.” Then he smiled, and it felt so goddamn good he wanted to cry like a damn girl. “You’re so sure it’s a daughter.”

She shrugged. “Just a feeling. It could be a boy who’ll be death on women just like his daddy.”

“I just want to be death on one woman,” he said softly. “I plan to love his or her mama so well that she never doubts even for a minute how much she means to him.”

“Can we go to bed now?” she asked as she leaned back into his arms. “Could you just hold me for a while?”

He brushed his lips over her temple in a tender gesture and stroked his fingers through her hair.

“I never intend to let you go, Angel girl.”

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