“Dillon.” She closes her eyes, resting her hand over mine on her chest. “I… I don’t like the person I was.”

“That’s okay, because I love her,” I say gently as I run my thumb over her pouted bottom lip. “I hate what happened, but I loved seeing that your feelings for me are just as strong as mine are for you.” I dip my head and kiss her softly then pull back.

“I told you that Isla and her family do not factor into our lives, and I meant that. They do not matter to me. You are my priority. Our future and your happiness are the most important things to me. I cut Isla out of my life when I told her that I was done going along with her lie, and she tried to convince me that she needed more time. I knew then that she was a liar, but my sense of loyalty to her parents made it hard for me to admit it to myself. I wish I never agreed to do what I did, but I can’t change that. I can only promise you today was the last time you will see her. If she tries to contact me again, I’ll file a restraining order against her.”

“But her parents?”

“They will have to understand, and if they don’t, I will have to make a decision about what role they will play in my life. Your wellbeing is all that matters.”

“How mad is Parker at me?”

“What?” I frown, and she tries to sit up once more, but I hold her down then smile when she growls and blows out a frustrated breath. “Why would Parker be mad at you?”

“Um… because he found out his brother’s new wife is a lunatic.”

“Baby, Cara hates Isla and has refused to have anything to do with her or her family. If anyone understands what happened to today, it would be Parker.”

“What, was Isla fake-engaged to Parker too?”

“No, smartass. Isla tried to hook Parker up with one of her friends right in front of Cara. That did not go over well.”

“I bet not,” she murmurs, and I grin, running my finger across her brow that is no longer holding the tension it was earlier.

“Are you feeling better?”

“I think so. I still don’t like the way I let Isla get to me.”

“I understand that, but please don’t pull away from me. I hate seeing you upset, and I really don’t like when you hold yourself away from me when you are.”

“I just needed some time alone to think.”

“I get that, which is why I left, but I won’t always be able to do that. Leaving you goes against everything I believe in.”

“You weren’t gone long.”

“I didn’t tell you I would be able to stay away,” I mutter, and her lips twitch as she sits up. “Are we good now?”

“Yes.” She ducks her head and drops her eyes to her hands. Seeing her spin the simple gold band around her finger, I shake my head, wondering why the fuck Isla brought up Mom’s wedding ring.

“Parker gave Mom’s ring to Cara,” I explain softly, and her eyes meet mine as she swallows. “My mom wasn’t big on jewelry, so that was the only thing of hers that she left us, and Parker, being the oldest, got it.”


“I know I should get you something that you can show off, something that everyone can see. But this ring”—I grab her hand, rubbing my thumb over it—“this ring represents the moment we started, the moment you became mine, and that makes it more valuable than anything I could ever afford.” Tears fill her eyes as she throws herself against me, wrapping her body around mine. Holding her, I let out a breath and feel a weight lift off my chest.

“Tell me you love me,” she whispers, and I bury my face in her neck, absorbing her scent of vanilla into my lungs.

“I love you, baby. Don’t ever doubt it.”

“I love you too.” Her soft words seep into my skin and fill in the parts of me that have been missing since I lost my parents. I always knew I would find someone to share my life with, but I never even dreamed she would be perfect for me in every way.

“Did you eat breakfast?” I ask her after a few minutes of just holding her, knowing she wasn’t up this morning when we all ate. She has a tendency to forget about food unless it’s right in front of her.

“No, I came in here to think after you left, and fell asleep.”

“Come on, I’ll make you something.” I pick her up and carry her into the kitchen, where I set her on the island. “How about peanut butter and jelly?”

“I don’t think I’ve had one of those since I was ten.” She grins, and I lean in, wrapping my hand around her jaw and kissing her softly before pulling away.

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