The enormous epiphanies were still hitting her one after another just as Adam turned and saw her standing there, watching him dance with the little girls. A few moments later, they wiggled down and ran off, hand in hand, leaving her face-to-face with the man who had reached deeper and deeper into her heart from the first day they’d met.
She loved him.
Kerry Dromoland loved Adam Sullivan with every breath, every heartbeat. And she would love him from now until eternity, if they were lucky enough to have that much time together.
All week, everything she’d been feeling, everything she’d been wanting, the things her mother had said to her—they’d all been swirling around and around inside of her. And then yesterday...
Yesterday there hadn’t been anything in the world that mattered but Adam.
His voice was warm and full of so much love it floored her, but she was already heading for him. She was nearly in his arms again when the tinkle of silverware on glass chimed out over the beach.
Max Sullivan’s amplified voice sounded. “Claudia and I couldn’t be happier that all of you were able to come from near and far to celebrate Rafe and Brooke’s wedding.”
Adam stepped down from the gazebo and took Kerry’s hand in his. “Let’s go enjoy dinner. And then after, we’ll talk.”
This time she was the one needing to know for sure that she wouldn’t miss her chance with him. Her chance to tell him everything that was now burning a hole inside of her. She wanted to tell him she loved him, had the words right there on the tip of her tongue, when he reached out to stroke her cheek.
“Everything, Kerry. That’s what I’m promising you.”
With no time to say anything more, he simply put his hand on the small of her back and walked with her to their seats.
* * *
Ninety minutes later, Kerry was dying. Literally about to burst.
The dinner was wonderful, and the toasts were all beautiful and funny and heart-wrenching. But the truth was that she hardly noticed any of it, because all she wanted was for it to be over already so that she could get Adam alone and they could talk.
Fortunately, though, she wasn’t so twisted up that she missed when Rafe and Brooke turned to focus their attention on her. “We want to take a moment to thank Kerry Dromoland for doing such an amazing job of putting our wedding together. We’re just so glad she could be here with us tonight, especially because there are an awful lot of us and we’re a lot to take in.”
Everyone laughed at that, and Kerry managed a smile as she mouthed, Thank you.
Rafe continued to speak into the microphone, saying, “I know it must feel like we’ve already been toasting each other all night long, but does anyone else want to chime in before we let you loose on the bonfire?”
An entire beach full of Sullivans looked at Kerry in surprise. Only Adam didn’t look surprised. Probably because he’d always been able to read what she was feeling on her face, seeing all the things she’d always been able to hide from everyone else.
What she was about to do was the most unprofessional thing in the entire world. But she didn’t care if she got a reputation for being the worst wedding planner on the planet after this. She couldn’t hold in what she was feeling anymore.
Kerry stood up beneath the fairy lights and the moon and took the microphone from a grinning Brooke. “I’ve been putting on weddings practically my whole life.” She hadn’t planned a word of this, but that didn’t matter. Not when every word she spoke into the mic was coming straight from her heart. “I thought I knew what love was, because I watched it every day. But it turned out that I didn’t really know anything. I didn’t know what love really was until I met...”
She stopped, put the mic down, and turned to Adam.
“Until I met you.”
Tears were falling down her cheeks, and Adam was right there, brushing the streaks of emotion away.
“I never knew, either,” he said, “not until you.”
“I want everyone to know how much I love you, Adam.” Her throat was clogged with tears and emotion. He hadn’t wanted to keep their relationship secret from anyone anymore, and she’d been wrong to try to keep his family—and him—in the dark. “I know I probably ruined everything every step of the way—”
His kiss stole the rest of the words from her lips…and gave her everything she’d ever wanted.
Adam was all there was for Kerry as they stood on the beach, surrounded by his family, the water lapping against the shore and the stars shining down over them. His arms around her, his mouth on hers, the way he just kept telling her he loved her with a kiss that swept all the way through her soul.
When they finally came up for air, she was shocked to realize that all of the Sullivans were applauding like crazy. Absolutely losing their minds over her declaration of love for a man they all adored.
But she knew that no one would ever adore Adam more than she did.
“I’ve been wanting to dance with you again for weeks.”
Adam drew Kerry close, loving the feel of her heart beating against his as they danced to the music filtering down to their private spot on the beach.
“So have I,” she told him, “but I have so many things I need to tell you, too. Things I’ve never told anyone else. Things I never wanted to own up to about myself, not until I almost lost you.”
“You never even came close to losing me.” And it was true. “You’re the partner I never knew I needed, Kerry. The other half that actually makes me complete. You and I, we’re good alone. But together? Together we’re unstoppable. That’s why I would have worked forever to win your heart. And I would have waited forever for you, too.”
She stopped dancing, but didn’t let go of him. “That’s what I couldn’t understand.” Her eyes were so big, so full of emotion as she said, “Even now, I’m sure it’s going to take me a while to really, truly believe that you love me as much as you do.”
“So much, sweetheart.”
She smiled then, such a bright and beautiful smile that she nearly turned night into day with it. “I love you that much, too.”
“I know you do. Your love runs deep, so deep and strong that I’ve always been astonished by it.”
“I could never understand how my father...” She took a shaky breath, but pushed ahead. “How he could have left the way he did, how he could have left at all if he loved me. I know I told you I had dealt with it, that I wasn’t letting it ruin my life, but now I can see that wasn’t entirely true. Because a part of me couldn’t believe that I would ever be enough to make the people I loved stay. After he left, I think I spent pretty much my whole life trying to be prepared for everything, to make sure I could avoid every possible crisis. But avoiding all those potential falls meant I could never let myself appreciate the amazing things all around me. Most of all, you.”
“Did you just call me amazing?” he teased, wanting to see her smile again even as she got everything off her chest.
Her laughter made him happy. So happy that he wondered how he’d managed to live thirty-four years without hearing it. “Beyond amazing, Adam, enormous ego and all.”