Beat of the Heart

Page 77

Now everything was going according to the plan I had in my mind. Well, except for the fact I found opera boring as hell and with a full stomach from our romantic dinner, I had made an ass of myself falling asleep.

Staring up at the starry sky, Mia gasped. "Look at the moon, AJ!" she exclaimed.

As I peeked up at the rounded, full moon, I shrugged. "What about it?"

Spinning around, Mia practically glowed with happiness. "It's a bella luna just like in Moonstruck, my most favorite movie ever. And we just went to the same opera in the movie, too."

Since I had no idea what the hell she was talking about, I merely smiled and took her hand. "Let's go there," I motioned to what looked like a carousel without the animals. It was perfect not just because it looked incredibly romantic all lit-up in glittering, white lights with an excellent view of the city. But to me, a Merry-Go-Round was so symbolic of mine and Mia's relationship so far.

"Okay," she replied with a dreamy smile. Somehow she had managed to find the sexiest maternity evening dress I'd ever seen. It was black satin that hugged her curves. My favorite was the plunging neckline that showed off her expanding tits. The back of the dress hung low, exposing more of her delicious skin. When she had stepped out of the bedroom wearing it, I had to hold myself back not to rush forward and bang her in the hallway.

After leading her up the stairs, I was stoked to find no one else inside. "This is so beautiful." She pressed herself against me. "Thank you for today, AJ. Everything has been so amazing on this trip. Your family has been as wonderful as you described them. I feel as though they have accepted me with open arms. I hate that we have to leave in a few days."

I nuzzled my head into the crook of her neck. "You're welcome. And, of course they love you. How could they not? But we'll come back. I promise."

"Good." She ran her fingers through my hair. "God, I love you so very much," she murmured.

Just those words caused my perfect plan to get shot to hell. "Marry me," I blurted, my voice vibrating against her neck.

She jerked away and stared incredulously into my eyes. "What?"

"You heard me."

"Yes, but I'm pretty sure a statement like that bears repeating."

I grinned. "You're not a traditionalist, but if you'd like, I'll get down on one knee."

"You can't be serious."

"Dead serious."

Mia's brows crinkled. "But we barely know each other."

I shrugged. "How much does any couple actually know each other when it comes down to it? Sure, I might've only known you five months-"

"Which four of those we were apart," she countered.

"But I still know I want to spend the rest of my life with you." My hand came to rest on her stomach. "Besides, you're carrying my daughter."

Staring up at the twinkling lights, Mia gave a sad sigh. "I don't want to get married just because of Isabella. That's what happened with my parents. I never want you to resent me or come to view me as 'the chick who trapped you with a kid'."

I shook my head furiously from side to side. "I could never think of you like that. Hell Mia, if anything, I'm the one that's trapping you. I chased your stubborn ass down until you finally decided to give us a real chance ."

"You say that now, but who knows what might happen in the future?"

"Don't you want to marry me?" My voice had taken on a wounded tone.

Mia turned to bring her hands to my face, cupping my cheeks. "That's not it at all. Any woman would be honored to marry you. This is about me and all my hang-ups. All this seems too good to be true-you seem too good to be true. I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop where I wake up to realize this isn't real."

I couldn't fight the anger building within me at her response. "Dammit Mia, how many times do I have to prove that punishing me for your past isn't fair?"

With a wince, she replied, "I don't know…And I'm sorry. I truly am."

"You know the four months I spent apart from you were miserable. Before you, I thought I'd been in love with other women before. When they left me, I was desolate. But it was nothing compared to what I experienced after you left. I was fucking obliterated."

"So was I," she admitted.

I threw up my hands. "Then what the fuck else is there to say? We're miserable when we're apart and happy when we're together."

Tears pooled in her eyes, and I shook my head. "No more bullshit about how I'm too good to put up with all your hang-ups and blah, blah, blah. Just marry me. You can't worry about the future-we're not even promised tomorrow. Just here and now. When I see Bray and Lily together and Jake and Abby, I'm envious of what they have. I want that with you and only you."

Tears spilled over Mia's cheeks, but she didn't bother wiping them away. "Oh AJ," she murmured.

I pulled her into my arms before taking her face in my hands. "It's been a whirlwind, but I know that I love you. I think I loved you from the moment you tied me up in the limo. I'd never had a woman challenge me like you did."

"You really want to marry me?"

"I sure as hell do."

She laughed and swiped the tears from her cheeks. "Then where's the ring?"

"I'm so glad you finally asked." Reaching into my pocket, I pulled out a small, velvet box. When I cracked it open, a sob choked off in Mia's throat. The tears flowed so freely she had to blink several times.

"That's Mama Sophia's ring," she whispered.

I nodded. "The base is. I had them reset it in platinum, and then I added the other diamonds."

"But how did you-"

"Your dad sent it to me." I smiled. "Along with his permission to marry you."

Mia staggered back, and I had to grab her shoulders to steady her. "When? How?"

"I had Duke give the ring to Rhys to bring when he flew down today. And then I asked him everything when we skyped a day or two after we got here." I winked at her while my mind went back to the day I'd called Duke to ask him if I could marry Mia. I'd been such a nervous pussy I had been shaking when I did it. I mean, the man had every right to take my balls for knocking up his daughter. That in itself was scary enough, but this motherfucker was a former NFL football player with friendly ties to people associated with the mob. I was ready to shit my pants or go into Witness Protection by the time he answered the phone. But he'd surprised the hell out of me, though, by breaking down and crying like a pansy himself.

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