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Beauty and the Blitz(269)

By´╝ÜSosie Frost



“Two of them,” he promised. “You can sleep. I won’t. Not until that baby is born and safe and—”

“Jack.” I smiled. “I’m okay. You’ll be the first to know if there’s any problem.”

“Damn right I’ll be.” Jack sat me on the bed so he could pace instead. His steps hit the floor too hard, and I didn’t even want to imagine the damage he did to himself by running through the halls.

I sighed. “Stop. I’m not sending you downstairs to get an MRI if you tear up your knee.”

“I’ll cut the damn thing off.”

“You might find it a little hard to play football on one leg.” I shrugged. “You’re a big guy, Jack, but even your tripod can’t get you out of a blitz.”

“I’m serious, Kiss.”

“And everything’s okay. I’m just waiting for the papers that tell me that I overreacted.”

“You didn’t overreact.” His voice hollowed. “You didn’t have anyone there to help you.”

“I can handle myself.”

“You shouldn’t have to.”

“Even if you were there, nothing would have changed.”

He didn’t believe me. “That’s not true—”

“I wouldn’t have risked anything. We’d have gone to the hospital, only you would have driven me.”

“Yeah.” He beat at his chest with a fist. “I would have taken you. I’d have been there. I’d have kept you safe and calm and helped you. But I wasn’t there.”

No, he wasn’t, and I didn’t care. I was okay. He was okay.

Our son was okay.

That was the single greatest news anyone had ever given me.

“I’m not holding it against you,” I said.

Jack steadied, though he seemed to grow, every inch of his body raging and tensed and prepared for a battle he could never win against his own regret.

“I’ll hold it against me.”

“Jack—”

“Leah, I’m in love with you.”

I dropped onto the bed. Jack knelt before me, and I was really going to need my hand back to cover the gasp that puffed past my lips. He held my palm, both of them, and kissed. His gaze locked on mine. I believed every word he spoke.

“I love you,” he said. “I was an idiot. I didn’t know what to do because of the injury, and I took it out on you. I was wrong.”

“You love me?”

“I went to the party because I thought it would make me happy. Like it always used to do.”

My mouth dried. “You love me.”

“They had drinks. And they had girls. And three of them were just in my lap.”

Not the detail to include in this apology. I lowered my voice. “But you love me?”

“I didn’t want them. I kept thinking about you. I left you so angry and hurt. Fuck, I was stupid. I didn’t see what I had.” He squeezed my hands. “You don’t think I’m responsible. You don’t think you can depend on me. You’re probably right, but I’m gonna work on it. I’m going to be there for you, for the baby, for us.”

“You love me.”

Jack nodded. “You’re the only woman I’ve ever loved. You’re the only woman who could make me love someone other than myself. I’m so sorry for ever making you think otherwise.”

The exhaustion and hormones got to me before his words, but now I was a weeping mess. I sniffled, holding onto his shoulder while I stared at my unbelievable man.

“You know me…” I whispered. “I have a plan for everything. I know what to do, what to say, how to react. I can prevent any sort of disaster.”

“I’m a disaster now?” Jack grinned.

“The worst kind.” I touched his cheek. “I have no idea what to do when I’m around you. There’s no plan that can guard my heart. I’d have to leave you to protect myself from everything I feel—and, Jack, if I had to spend another moment separated from you, I might’ve lost myself.”

“But I’m here,” he said.

“You’re here. And you have no idea how much you mean to me. You asked me what I thought of you? It’s simple. You’re my world. You are everything I could ever, possibly want in this lifetime.”

His smile warmed me, chased away the fears and stress. “You love me.”

“I love you. How’s that for a headline?”

“Respectable, Amazing Woman Falls For Idiot Trouble-Maker.”

“We can spin it to be something more positive. That’s why you pay me the big bucks.”

Jack mellowed. He stared at me, his breathing still shuddered with adrenaline. “Marry me?”

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