“We’ll take my truck today, get some deck chairs that won’t give out, and pick my shit up from the compound,” he says almost to himself, taking the ball from Ninja when he brings it over.

“We will?” I ask, and his eyes move to me and scan my face, and then he transfers his coffee to his other hand and nabs me from behind my neck, pulling me closer until we’re sharing the same breath.


“We’re moving forward, and we’re doing that together. I know you still have doubts about us, but I don’t. We’ll work through your shit and settle in, baby.”

“My shit?” I whisper, and his eyes scan my face again.

“Do you want me to leave?” he prompts, and I feel my heart lodge itself in my throat at the idea of him leaving. His eyes lock on mine, and his voice drops as his fingers flex against my skin. “I have enough love for the both of us. Doesn’t matter if you love me back. I’m not giving you space or room. You’re mine, June. You have been for a long fucking time and I want what we could have had to start now.”

“Do…” I pause, licking my lips, and his eyes drop to my mouth. “Do you think we should slow down a little?”

“What’s going to change if we slow down?” he asks, which is a good question, and it’s a good question that annoys me, since I know by the determination in his eyes that nothing is going to change. Besides, since he’s been back, I can’t imagine it any other way.

“My dad’s going to kill me,” I mumble. He grins and leans closer, brushing his lips against mine, and then leans back to take a sip of coffee.

“He’ll adjust,” he says, pulling the ball from Ninja’s mouth and tossing it again. “Hell, he doesn’t like me anyway, so fuck it.”

“He likes you,” I tell him, or at least he did like him. Now, I’m not so sure, but seeing how he’s alive, I’m sure that means Dad doesn’t exactly hate him.

“Baby,” he murmurs, sounding amused. “He told me that if I fucked up again, he was going to cut off my dick and feed it to me.”

“Oh.” I cringe then listen to him laugh. Taking a sip of coffee, I wonder how long it will take for my dad to come around.

“He’ll come around,” he assures, reading my mind.

“My family is a little overprotective.” I sigh.

“I get it. I’ll be the same when we have girls.”

“Ev,” I whisper, holding my cup tighter. When Evan and I were together, we talked about starting a family sooner, rather than later. I wanted to be a mom while I was still young, and I wanted at least three kids, if not more. Evan wanted the same as me.

“We got delayed, baby, but I already searched your shit and couldn’t find any birth control. We didn’t use any kind of protection last night.” His words stun me, and I’m not prepared when his hand nabs me again, pulling me close once more. “When I said we’re moving forward, I meant with everything.”

My breathing starts to turn ragged and my stomach rolls into a knot. I don’t know what I’m feeling, but it’s not panic or fear; it’s something different, something unexpected. Finally, I get the word, “What,” out, but that’s all I’m able to say before he kisses me again and leans back, taking another sip of his coffee.

“It’ll all work out,” he says casually, picking up the ball Ninja drops at his side, tossing it out into the yard.

“Are you crazy?” I ask when I find my voice.

“Was crazy for a while, baby. I also couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t even fucking take a breath. Three days ago, I finally took a breath, and since then, I’ve been breathing easy. So no, baby, I’m not crazy.”

Okay. I can feel it happening. I know it’s coming, so I turn my face away from his and pull in a breath through my nose to fight the tears back, but it doesn’t work. I hiccup on a sob, and then before I have a chance to cover it, my coffee cup is removed from my hand and Evan is picking me up, placing me in his lap. Crying into his neck, I cling to him tighter, and then scream when the chair under us gives out and we both fall to the deck below us.

“Are you okay?” he asks, rolling me to my back, away from the broken chair.

“I’m fine.” I giggle, and then giggle louder as I push Ninja away when he licks my face. “I told you my chairs weren’t built for you,” I say softly, as his eyes change and his hips press into mine.

“You’re so fucking beautiful, baby, the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen,” he whispers, catching me off guard. His hands move and hold each side of my face, and his thumbs swipe over my cheeks, where the tears had fallen moments before. “Even crying, you’re fucking gorgeous.” His lips brush over mine, and then I pull my head back and cover my face when Ninja licks between our faces.

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