He casts me another one of those wolfish looks he’d given me in the car and leads me between the racks of clothes. “If there is one.”
I glower. “You have to behave, Liam Stone. I know you’re just teasing me. You’re too private of a person to be serious. And I need to find a dress and eat. I’m starving.”
This time, he’s the one who stops and faces me. “I’m starving, Amy, but not for food.” His voice is pure wicked heat, his aqua eyes a shade deeper than normal. “But,” he adds, “you are right. I am private in all things. I fully intend to have you all to myself. Which is why you need to try on a dress.”
We take an elevator, continuing our banter as we go to exit and walk down a hallway where he glances at the glass doors beside us. I follow his lead to discover that we’re at the entrance to the store’s private bridal boutique.
My chest pinches with some unrecognizable emotion I don’t try to analyze. “No. No. We don’t have time to do this today.”
“They’ll bring you party dresses to try on.”
“We haven’t even decided on where we’re getting married. I don’t know what kind of dress I want.”
He pulls me to him, pressing me into a nook behind a wall of clothes that hides us from the open shopping area. “Let’s decide now. Baby, I want to marry you. The sooner we make decisions, the sooner I make that happen.”
“But we said New Year’s Eve?”
“Are you happy with that?”
“Yes. I love that idea.”
“Then we have a date. What about a location? Anywhere, Amy. On a plane. In Egypt. In Texas. Italy is romantic, or—”
“In our home. I want to be home. If that’s okay with you?”
He strokes the hair from where it has fallen over my eyes. “I said anywhere and I meant it. The time, the place, the details—they’re important because they’re what you choose. I just want you, Amy.”
It’s exactly the right answer. “I swear, Liam Stone. Somehow you manage to be bossy, arrogant, and demanding, and remarkably still say and do all of the right things.”
“Because you understand me the way I do you. We belong together, Amy. On some level, I believe I knew that the moment we first made eye contact. We were always heading to ‘I do.’ ”
The idea that I met him because my parents died and neither could exist in my life in unison is like glass in all my many open wounds. Tears pool in my eyes. “I swear, I’ve wanted to cry way too much the past two days.”
Liam cups my face and thumbs away the dampness. “What just upset you? Talk to me.”
“I wish we could share this with the people we’ve loved and lost. My mom and dad. Your mom and Alex.”
He turns his head a moment and I can almost feel his mood shift, before he looks at me. “We’ve both loved and lost too much, too young. It’s why we were both alone when we met. It’s going to impact who we are together. I know it’s why I’m overbearingly protective and impossible at times. You’re going to have to call me on it, Amy, but know that it’s because I love you.”
I smile. “Remember you said that, when I’m being overbearingly paranoid and worried.”
“I will. Right after I respond by being bossy, arrogant, and—”
“Demanding,” I finish, laughing, and loving that he can joke about himself.
“Demanding,” he concurs, his tone softening. “We’ll deal with whatever Godzilla comes our way, baby.”
I grin at the silly metaphor I’d made up the first night I met him. “And the sharks swimming at our feet?” I ask, reminding him of something he’d said.
“And the sharks,” he agrees, kissing my knuckles. “Now. What do you say we go get you a couple of dresses?”
“We?” I ask, appalled. “You can’t see my wedding dress. It has to be a surprise at the wedding.” He ignores my objection, dragging me out of the nook. “Liam,” I warn. “I’m serious.”
He opens the glass door to the bridal boutique. “I’ll stay in the waiting area inside the boutique.”
I glower despite the firm set of his jaw telling me he’s not going to give in on this. Still, I have to try. “If you’re worried about my safety, there’s only one door. You stay out here and guard the door.”
Looking amused at my efforts to dissuade him, he just stands there, not even bothering to argue, as if he’s already won.
My lips purse because he has won. “Fine. But I’m not showing you the dresses.”
His lips quirk. “Understood.”
“Miss me?” Tellar asks, appearing by Liam’s side only to have his eyes go wide at the view beyond the glass door Liam holds. “Clearly I’ve missed some big wedding news.”
I smile and hold up my hand and he whistles in reply. “That’s what I call commitment.”
I can’t resist a little teasing. “Want to be my flower boy, Tellar?”
“Only if I get a new dress, too,” he jokes.
I shake my head, grinning inside and out as I make my way past an elegant white leather love seat to a wall of dresses. Excitement bubbles inside me as I admire one gown after another, but most feel overdone for our small wedding. Deciding I had better focus on tonight’s dress first, I turn to seek out an attendant, and find Liam and a gray-haired woman with a measuring tape hanging over her shoulders in conversation.