The entire way there, Hayden’s fingers are interlocked with mine, and when it’s time to leave, I hesitate. Everything feels too good to be true.

“Sav…” His tender tone grabs my attention, and I look up into his soft, kind eyes as if he’s able to read my insecurities. “Let us have this. We deserve it.”

Tilting my head, I smile at the man who holds my whole heart. Who’s always held it.

“I know.” I nod, pulling in my bottom lip. “I can’t help but wonder if I’m going to blink, and you’ll be gone.”

“Never, baby. I’d follow you right now if I could, but I want to do this right. Get out of my lease, pack my stuff, say goodbye to my brother, and figure out my job situation. I want to leave knowing nothing’s holding me back because baby, when I go to you, I’m not ever letting you out of my sight again.” Hayden lifts my chin, giving me the sweetest look. “You got that?”

“Hm…where did this alpha side of you come from?” I tease. “I’m kinda digging it.”

Hayden wraps his hand around my neck, closing the space between us and slamming our mouths together. He kisses me with so much love and heat, I’m nearly gasping for air when we part.

“It’s all you, sweetheart. You release a side of me that’s always been reserved for you.” He flashes me a wink, which has butterflies swarming in my stomach.

“Then I better go before you get out of control,” I tease.

We get out, and he helps me with my luggage. Tears prick my eyes as sadness swarms over me. Hayden holds me in his arms, crushing me to his chest as I inhale his musky scent. I squeeze him, not wanting to let go.

“I’ll be there as fast as I can, okay?”

I meet his eyes and nod. “I know.” He bends and presses his lips to mine for a final kiss. “I’ll be waiting.”

“We’ve waited this long…what’s another few weeks, right?” He grins and winks, which has me nearly bursting into tears.

“All those years we could’ve been together,” I say, lowering my gaze. “I shouldn’t have—”

“Don’t you dare put all the blame on yourself,” he demands, tilting my head up. “We both messed up. I could’ve chased you, found you after I knew the truth, but I didn’t. Instead of dwelling on the what-ifs, I’m going to make sure we don’t make those mistakes ever again. Never letting you go again, Savannah. Never.”

As I nod, tears blur my vision, but I don’t care. I wrap my arms around his neck and pull him in for tight hug. “I love you.”

“I love you, baby. This isn’t goodbye because I’m coming for you as soon as possible.”

Cars honk at us, forcing us apart. A guy shouts at us to get moving because we’ve been in the “no parking” zone for over ten minutes. “You better go before you get a ticket or a fight breaks out,” I say between tears and laughter.

Hayden brings our mouths together for one last kiss. “I’ll see you soon, sweetheart. Don’t ever forget how much I love you. Forever.”

I smile against his lips. “Forever.”

Chapter Twelve

Hayden

One Month Later

I’m finally moving across the country to be with Savannah, and after all this time, it almost feels too good to be true. I’ve never lived outside California, and I’ve only ever visited New York once, so it’s a big change for me, one I should’ve made years ago. The university was actually fine with me working remotely with the expectation of recruiting some great East Coast players. My mother was supportive for the most part, and my father had his shitty opinions about it, which I ignored because he wouldn’t know what love was even if it slapped him in the face. The hardest part about leaving, though, is being away from Hunter.

I’ve been there for him as much as possible, acting as a father figure since our dad was always incapable. It’s been the most difficult thing so far. I glance over at him, and he’s wearing a shit-eating grin.

“I can’t believe you’re really doing this,” he tells me as he drives me to the airport. He volunteered to drive me since I sold my truck and to say our final goodbyes.

I look over at him. “Are you sure you don’t want me to talk to my landlord? He hasn’t leased out the house yet,” I offer one last time.

He glances over at me and shakes his head. “I can’t leave Brandon like that.”

“You mean you can’t leave Lennon,” I quip under my breath, but I know he hears me.

Grabbing the steering wheel with white knuckles, he keeps his eyes on the road and shakes his head. “It’s not like that.”

Denial. I’ve been there. I lived in that state of mind for ten long years. By the way he stills, I know he wants me to drop it, but instead, I keep pushing. “You know it’s not gonna get easier, right? Living with her. It’s just going to become harder. I know the heart sometimes wants what it can’t have, but—”

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