“No.” She lifts her hands, pushing at my chest, trying to shove me away. “No!” she repeats, yelling this time.

Grabbing her wrists, I hold them to me, watching her chest rise and fall quickly. “The kind of man you deserve wouldn’t have left you. He wouldn’t have given up on you. He would have done everything possible to make sure you never doubted his feelings for you. I wasn’t that man before.”

“Stop!” she screams, and I let go of her left hand, reach into my pocket, and then drop to my knee in front of her.

“The man I was didn’t deserve you. He didn’t even deserve to breathe the same air as you. But I do. I’m not the man I was then, and I vow, every day until I take my last breath, to prove myself worthy of you.” I hold up the ring, which I picked out weeks ago, between us. A ring worthy of being on her finger, given to her by a man worthy of her. “Will you marry me? Will you be my wife?”

“Oh, God.” Her hand covers her mouth and tears fall from her eyes as she looks between the ring and me. “Oh, God,” she repeats, dropping forward, wrapping her arms around my neck, shoving her face there, and sobbing, “Yes.”

“Calm down, baby. You’re scaring the fuck out of me,” I whisper, rubbing her back while listening to her loud sobs as her body shakes.

“I can’t calm down!” she cries on a hitched breath, pulling her face out of my neck. “Who could possibly calm down after that?” she asks, using her hands to wipe the tears off her face.

“Can you at least pull it together long enough for me to put the ring on your finger?” I request, picking her up and placing her back on the top of the counter.

“Yes. But only after I say something,” she breathes through her tears, resting her warm hands against my chest while searching my face. “There was never a time you didn’t deserve me.”

“June,” I warn, giving her knee a squeeze.

“No.” She shakes her head. “You have always, always been good enough for me. I fell in love with you—all of you—not just one piece of you that I thought was perfect. There was never a time I didn’t love you. You need to know that.” She slides her hand up my chest to my neck and under my jaw. “I love you, Evan, all of you. Even the parts of you that you don’t like.”

“I don’t deserve you,” I get out through clenched teeth.

“And I don’t deserve you either, but I’m keeping you anyway.” She smiles and tilts her head to the side, smiling brightly. “Can I have my ring now?”

“Yes.” I lean forward, kissing her softly, then pull back and take her hand, sliding the three-carat, cushion-cut diamond ring on her finger, transfixed by the sight of it.

“It’s beautiful,” she whispers, holding her hand to my chest, turning it one way then the other and watching the light catch on it before looking up at me. “But when we get married, I want my old ring sitting next to this one. I don’t want something new, when my something old was perfect to begin with.”

“Christ, you’re killing me,” I groan, wrapping my fist in her hair and taking her mouth in a kiss that shows her how much I love her, only pulling away when the doorbell rings, reminding me of the shit I needed to talk to her about. “Fuck,” I clip, reluctantly ripping my mouth from hers.

“I wonder who that is,” she whispers, dazedly looking toward the door.

“My bet is on your mom and dad,” I grumble, looking at her mouth that is swollen and her face that is soft, wishing this moment wasn’t going to be ruined by the past.

“Did they know you were going to ask me to marry you?” She frowns, hopping off the counter when I take a step back.

“No, and I need to make our talk we were supposed to have earlier a quick one before I go let them in.”

“What talk?”

“Lane is out of jail. All charges were dropped and he was released this morning.”

“What?” She looks toward the hall when the bell rings again, and Ninja finally jumps off the couch, barking as he heads for the door.

“He’s out, and I don’t want you having any kind of contact with him.”

“I wouldn’t. I mean, why would I?” She shakes her head while her brows dart together.

“It’s not you getting into contact with him that I’m worried about,” I explain, brushing her hair away from her face.

“You think he’ll come looking for me?”

“You’re hard to forget, beautiful, so yes. I have no doubt he will eventually show up here,” I mutter, dropping a brief kiss to her lips before heading for the door which is now being pounded on. Looking out the peephole, I sigh when I see who’s on the other side. Not that I didn’t know they’d show up, but after what just happened with June, and the fact that she agreed to marry me again, I can think of a million and fifty other things I’d prefer to be doing with my fiancée this morning. None of them have one goddamn thing to do with spending time with her parents.

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