“But we’re getting married on New Year’s Eve. You have to stay for the wedding.”
His hands settle on my shoulders. “The idea of missing it guts me—but I can’t stay.”
“You should have told us you were coming. We could have planned the wedding.” Suddenly I whirl around to face Liam. “Can we get married tonight?”
He doesn’t show a moment of hesitation. “We can do whatever makes you happy, baby. I just want you to be my wife.”
I have an instant of excitement that quickly deflates. “Oh, but we don’t have anyone to marry us.”
“Why don’t we hold the ceremony now, and go to the justice of the peace on Monday and make it official?”
“What about New Year’s? Our new beginning?”
Liam leans in, his voice meant for only me. “Our new beginning started the day we met.” Those perfect, aqua eyes meet mine. “Let’s get married.”
I swear I fall in love with him all over again with those words. “Let’s get married,” I say, pushing up to my toes to kiss him. “In an hour?”
“An hour it is,” he confirms. “I’ll get ready in one of the spare bedrooms, then I’ll take you back to ours after everyone leaves to celebrate.”
“It’s a date,” I say, and our gazes linger in a sizzling connection I feel deep in my soul, in a place once empty and now filled.
Then I turn to face Chad and Gia. “We’re getting married tonight! We’re getting married tonight!”
“What?!” Tellar calls from the kitchen door.
Gia cheers and shouts, “They’re getting married tonight!”
Crazy excitement erupts as everyone joins us in the living room, and I step to Chad and poke his chest with my finger. “There’s no way I’m letting you miss this.”
He grins. “Go get dressed. I have a wedding to attend.”
I turn away and my gaze collides with Liam’s again, the warmth spreading between us giving me a thrill that has me running down the hall and up the stairs.
I’m getting married to Liam.
And Chad is here.
It’s everything I could ever want and more.
I burst into the bedroom, shutting the door, and I’ve barely made it into the bathroom when a knock sounds. “Come in!” I shout, already opening drawers to find the makeup and supplies I need to get ready.
“I came to help,” Gia says, appearing in the doorway. “I need to get Liam’s suit, and he’s loaning one to Chad. I’ll need to borrow a dress, too.”
“This way,” I say, motioning for her to follow me and showing her everything she needs.
When I go to the bedroom door to open it for her, Dr. Murphy is there with a glass of champagne. “Drink. Doctor’s orders.”
“I’ll be back,” Gia calls over her shoulder, disappearing into the hallway.
I smile at Dr. Murphy. “Thank you, but I can’t. I’m a lightweight, and I don’t want to forget a single moment of this.” I rush back to the bathroom, looking for the pink shadow I bought for the wedding and feeling flustered that it’s nowhere in sight.
“A sip or two won’t hurt,” Dr. Murphy says, joining me and leaning on the door frame, “but aside from calming your nerves, which you obviously need, I came to tell you that I can perform the wedding.”
“Oh, thank you,” I say, sighing with relief as I find the shadow. “I didn’t even think about someone playing the officiate.”
“I meant I can really marry you,” Dr. Murphy says. “There’s no play about it.”
I pause, a bottle of hairspray in my hand, giving her a puzzled look. “I don’t understand.”
“My best friend wanted me to perform her marriage ceremony last year,” she explains. “I did all the paperwork to get registered—and then the bastard cheated on her before the wedding.”
“I . . . That’s . . . amazing. I mean not for your friend, but for me and Liam. It seems almost impossible.”
“It’s called fate,” she says. “Kind of like the story you once told me of you being in an airport at just the right time to lock gazes with Liam Stone. You don’t question it; you embrace it. I’m not a hundred percent the certification isn’t expired, but it might be official tonight. I’ll find out Monday morning.”
“That’s enough,” I say, because it doesn’t matter. Liam matters. What this ceremony means to us matters. I step to her and kiss her cheek. “Thank you. Does Liam know?”
“He does. He wants to be sure you’re happy with it possibly not being legal tonight, and if so, he’s happy.”
“Silly man. I’m marrying him tonight, with my brother here. How can I not be happy?”
THE NEXT HOUR is a whirlwind of nerves and excitement, and finally I stand in the center of the closet with my dress on, Gia zipping me up from behind.
“All done,” she says, stepping beside me and looking gorgeous in a pale blue gown Saks had included in one of the bags they’d delivered. “You’re absolutely stunning.”
I swallow hard at the vision I make, the pale pink perfection of the strapless gown hugging my bodice and tapering down my hips until it flares at the bottom in a swoosh of silk. Even my hair has cooperated, lying in that sleek, shiny veil around my bare shoulders, a look I always hope for but never manage to achieve. But somehow, on this very special evening, I have.