Hearing her chant my name with whispers of love as she climaxes is heaven on earth. I hold her close to me as we catch our breath and come back to reality. It takes all the strength in me to pull out, but I do. I scoop up her boneless body and lay her on my bed. I finish kicking off my boots and pants so I’m completely naked before I climb in next to her.

She’s on her side facing me, and my eyes roam her beautiful curves. I stretch my hand out and pet her from her shoulder down to her thigh, unable to stop myself from tracing her lines. Her eyes are heavy with sleep and lust, and I want her again so badly. I had her seconds ago and it already feels like an eternity.

“Do you remember the first time we met?” I ask, and she rolls her eyes, smirking at me.

“Of course I do.”

“I was so nervous that day. I couldn’t sleep the night before because I knew you were coming in. Miles had already talked to you and convinced you to work for him. You were to come meet me, since I would be your contact person for the duration of your job.”

“Why were you nervous?” She reaches out, running her fingers through my chest hair.

“Because I knew you were the one.” I shrug like it’s obvious. “I was meeting my future that day, and it was so exciting and scary. But the second you walked in the door, I felt a calm fall on me.”

I place my hand over hers and press her palm flat over my heart.

“You wore jeans and a dark blue sweatshirt that made your eyes look like brilliant stones. Your hair was pulled up, and you came in with a scowl on your face. You had the biggest chip on your shoulder, and all it did was make me want you more.”

“God, I was so pissed that day. I didn’t want to have to report to you. I just wanted to do my job watching Mallory and be done with it. I hated the thought of having someone keeping tabs on my every move.” She smiles and shakes her head. “You were such a pain in the ass.”

“I was,” I agree, smiling at her. “I wanted to get your attention, and the only thing that seemed to do it was when you were trying to tell me off. That auburn ponytail was swishing back and forth as I was going over what I wanted from you. You gave me so much attitude I could only smile the whole time.”

“You did it on purpose.”

“Most of it, yes. I wanted to see you riled up. To see if I could pull out of you even a tenth of the passion I had. You were so tough that day. But I could see past that concrete wall you had in front of you. I saw that there was something special underneath. That behind the tough exterior was a tender woman who was afraid to let someone love her.”

She nods, and I bring her hand up to my mouth, kissing her wrist.

“That day changed my life, Paige. Seeing you there was incredible, but before I handed you the paperwork and you left, we had that moment.”

She looks at me and nods, remembering it, too.

“I held on to it, not wanting you to leave. I knew once you had the information, you’d be gone, and I didn’t know when I’d see you again.”

“I had that feeling, too,” she confesses.

“I had to let you go, and it was the hardest thing I’d ever done. But when I reached out and touched your cheek, I knew you were the one. I couldn’t let you go without that one touch, because I had to have something. I knew when I saw your picture you were it for me, but having you in front of me and being able to connect made it real.”

I reach over her to a bedside table and pull out the small box. I lean back and place it between us, letting her look at it.

“That day after you left I bought this. Because I knew that it was yours, and no matter what you chose, this would always belong to you. I would never have another woman in my life if you wouldn’t have me, so I waited until you couldn’t turn me away.”

“Ryan,” she whispers, but doesn’t move.

“I’ve already called you my fiancée, and in truth you have been since that first day we met. You just didn’t know it.” She laughs as the tears start to fall, and I kiss her wrist again. “I married you in my heart the night we first made love. One day, I want to make it legal, but in my soul, I’m already there.”

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