The dreams had started as soon as I was asleep. A little house with a huge backyard. A motorcycle in the driveway and three kids playing on the swing set in the front yard. I knew it was the future I’d wanted with Spider and would never have. I had woken up feeling so emotionally shattered that I’d been unable to contain the anger at having all of that ripped away by the man lying so peacefully asleep beside me that I’d slapped his handsome face. The slap had only made me feel a little better for a moment and then I’d started regretting it. I’d never hit him before, and didn’t want to turn into the kind of woman who took her anger out in a violent way. I wasn’t Tasha, after all, and my mother would have been so ashamed of me if she had seen what I had done.
Now, after hearing him explain that it had been my siste
r playing the worst kind of trick—which made a sick kind of sense—and having Spider tell me that he loved me back then and had never stopped, I was left speechless. My heart was cracked into a million pieces, but they suddenly didn’t feel like they couldn’t be put back together again. If I let myself believe him, then maybe he could rebuild my heart and fix the twisting pain in my chest.
“I never stopped, Willa. I’ve loved you from the first time I saw you. That sounds crazy, and if I hadn’t felt it first-hand, I would tell you that love at first sight doesn’t exist. Fuck, I would tell you that love itself doesn’t exist. But that first day, as soon as I saw you, something changed inside of me. You made me different in a blink of an eye.” He shifted on the bed, causing the covers to fall from his waist a few inches. I tried not to let my eyes drift from his face, but the temptation of seeing him in all his naked glory was almost more than I could handle. But this conversation was possibly the most important I would ever have in my life so I forced myself to focus.
“I tried to fight what I felt for you, but I knew it was a losing battle. Less than a week and I was practically begging you to spend time with me.” He grimaced. “I knew for sure I loved you when you would sit through all of those Norman Reedus movies with me without complaint.” Despite all the emotions churning through me a laugh escaped me at that last statement and he grinned. “Not even Raven will watch that much Norman Reedus with me, and she’s a huge fan of Daryl from The Walking Dead.”
“Well, that’s where you have to understand the big difference between Raven and me.” He frowned and I offered him a small smile. “I love you in a bigger way than Raven does.”
The words had barely left my lips when he was across the bed and pulling me out of the rocker. He jerked me against his chest so hard that it sent us falling back onto the mattress. His lips sealed across mine, his tongue diving deep as if he were trying to brand me inside and out. Spider kissed me until I was breathless, his arms were like bands around my waist as he held on as if scared I would vanish if he let go.
He needn’t have worried. I wasn’t going anywhere, ever. I believed him about Topaz and actually trusted that he loved me. Four years ago I’d been sure that he loved me until that terrible night. He had shown me over and over again how he had felt then, just as he had shown me repeatedly over the last two weeks. A man who rarely showed emotion, had made sure that everyone who entered Hannigans’ was aware that I was his and he was mine. If that didn’t show me how much Spider cared, there was little else he could do to prove it.
“Spider…” I sucked in a few deep breaths to satisfy the burning in my lungs. He abandoned my lips so he wouldn’t smother me and trailed kisses down my neck. When he stopped to suck on the sensitive skin just below my right ear I had to concentrate harder to remember what I was going to say. Damn, the man knew how to distract me. “James…” That caught his attention and he raised his head.
“Hey.” He smiled down at me, making my heart melt at the love shining out of those black eyes. Had it been shining the whole time? I’d refused to see it until now.
“Hi.” I raised my hand and traced it over his nose, playing with the ring in the middle of it, and I raised my head to steal a quick kiss. “Can we finish talking before things get out of hand?” I was already on fire and my panties were soaking wet with my need for him. A few more kisses and I doubted we would be talking any more for a few days.
“What do you want to talk about?” His lips were no longer touching any part of me, but his hands were everywhere. Stroking up and down my sides, teasing across my throbbing nipples. Lifting the edge of my panties and tracing across the skin underneath.
Spider moved and his long, hard cock nudged against my center. The heat from his erection forced me to bite back a moan. “I…. I… Umm… I forget.”
His chuckle vibrated through his chest as well as my own. “You’re right. We do need to talk. I actually need to ask you something.” He stood and moved toward the bathroom. Damn it! That man’s body was so beautiful. My mouth watered at the thought of running my tongue over every inch of male perfection standing before me.
I watched as he picked up his jeans off the bathroom floor then came back to me. After pulling something out of his pocket, he sat down on the bed beside me and I sat up, curious as to what he had in his hand. It was small, fitting easily inside his fist. With his free hand Spider grasped my hand and brought it to his lips. I blinked, not expecting him to do something so sweet. “I should have asked you this four years ago, but I was still a scared kid back then. Being without you for so long, wanting you and loving you but too scared of fighting for you has shown me what it’s like to be only half alive. The last few weeks have been great, but there is something we can do to make it better. To make this perfect.”
My eyes widened and I realized that he was holding my left hand. Oh shit! Tears instantly filled my eyes and my chin began to tremble as he opened his hand and showed me a platinum engagement ring with the biggest diamond I’d ever seen in my life. “Marry me, Willa. I don’t just love you, I need you.”
“Oh my God,” I whispered as he slipped the ring onto my finger. “It’s beautiful.”
He grinned. “I want to tell you it’s a family heirloom, but it’s not. My uncle bought it for the girl he wanted to marry twenty years ago. She didn’t want the life that came with being an ol’ lady. Razor couldn’t return the ring and didn’t want it to go to waste, so he gave it to my mom to keep for when I decided to get married. When she found out you were the same girl who I was moping around about over four years ago, she gave me the ring and told me to man up.” Spider shook his head, and I couldn’t help but laugh. I’d recently met his mother and honestly she was the least mother-like woman in the world, so I could picture her telling her only son to man up and a hell of a lot more. “I’ve been walking around with this thing in my pocket for over a week now.”
I couldn’t take my eyes off of the ring. It really was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. The fit was nearly perfect, only slightly loose, but I preferred it that way. My monthly ‘friend’ would make sure that the ring fit snugly for at least a few days after all.
I frowned at the strained tone in Spider’s voice and reluctantly raised my gaze to meet his. His face was cloudy with what looked like worry. “What’s wrong?”
“You haven’t answered my question, baby.” When I continued to frown in confusion he blew out a frustrated breath. “Will you marry me, Willa?”
I gasped. “Oh.” In my daze over the beauty of the ring that was going to be on my finger for the rest of my life, I’d forgotten to do the most important thing. I threw my arms around his neck. “Yes, James. Yes, of course I want to marry you.”
He blew out a relieved sigh and held me tight against his chest. “Thank God. I thought you were trying to find a way to tell me no.” Spider buried his face in my hair. I felt a tremble shake his body and realized he really had been scared that I was going to say no.
“If you had asked me to marry you four years ago, I would have said yes.” I pushed against his chest so that I could move back enough to meet his eyes. What I was about to say was important. “I never would ask you to give up your MC. Not then, and definitely not now. It’s part of who you are, Spider. It’s made you the man you are today. I love you.”
“I love you too, Willa,” he whispered. “More than anything or anyone.”
“More than Raven?” I asked, but I was only teasing. I knew that what he felt for me was completely different from the love he had for Raven.
“A million times more than I love Raven,” he assured me with a grin.
I leaned in for a kiss, but before our lips touched I pulled back. “We aren’t going to live in your apartment much longer are we? As much as I’ve come to love that bed of yours, I’m not a fan of that part of town.”
“I’ll buy us a house. Any house you want,” Spider promised.