I watched him smile and sign autographs.
He was it. And I didn’t just mean star quality, but I meant it for me. I’d do anything for him because even though I’d said that loving means losing, it doesn’t. Loving means sacrificing.
His eyes flicked over at me, and I straightened my red dress, then my hair. I took a step toward him.
Some of the crowd parted, leaving us standing in front of each other. He ran his eyes over me, and I quivered at the need blazing in his gaze. He took a step toward me, a determined look on his face. I licked my lips, preparing my words.
But a fan walked up to him. And then Mrs. Smythe walked up to me.
The kids from the orphanage arrived via a bus. I greeted them at the door and Mrs. Smythe then led them to where Sebastian and Spider were on the stage. They showed the kids their instruments and did another round of autographs for them.
I couldn’t take it any longer. I made my way up to the stage. His eyes followed me the entire way.
I said hi to the kids, but they really only had eyes for the guys.
He jumped down from the stage. “I hope you don’t mind that I worked it out with Mrs. Smythe to let the kids come early. I’ve done the guitar lessons, but not everyone at the orphanage has gotten to meet us.” He smiled uncertainly.
“No, thank you for thinking of it. The kids love it.”
He looked down, almost seeming shy. “I see why you help them. It’s liberating in how it makes you feel. Like you’re making a difference. Doing something important. I want to do more of that kind of thing.”
We both spoke at the same time and then stopped.
“I’m sorry I pushed you away yesterday,” I said softly.
“I’m sorry I let you. Look, can we go somewhere and talk before this gets started? There’s something I need to tell you.”
Hing chose that moment to enter the room. “I should stay here and greet people.”
Sebastian sighed, his eyes following mine. “You’re changing, V. I mean I like seeing you grow, and if it means you’re leaving me, then I’m okay with it.”
“What? No, I’m not leaving you.”
Just then Blair walked in and made a beeline for us. Sebastian’s mouth opened as she dropped a sizable check in my hand and gave us each cheek pecks. “Thank you darling, for everything. I adore you both to the moon and back. Here’s my fifty thousand along with an additional ten.” She smiled brightly and waltzed off in a haze of perfume.
Sebastian had gone pale. “What the fuck? Am I in Bizarro World?” He grabbed my hand and started walking for the exit doors that led out into the hotel. “I don’t know what just happened, but I’m taking you out of here.”
“I told you I had her taken care of,” I said.
I came to a halt. “Stop. I can’t do another walk-in cooler episode with you. I have guests.”
He ignored me and pulled me out into the hall. “I don’t see any coolers. How about that room to the left?” He didn’t wait for my answer but walked across the hall and pulled me inside.
I looked around at the mop and broom. “The cleaning closet? Really?”
“Doesn’t matter where we are, I’ll always want you.” He tilted my face up. “I hate fighting with you, V. I’ve been miserable for the past twenty-four hours, and it has little to do with my career, but all to do with you.”
“I know.” I touched his face. He looked different. Softer. As if he couldn’t take not touching me too, his thumb rubbed my bottom lip.
“Did you know that I could stare at you for hours? You’re like a fucking Picasso painting. And your eyes … don’t even get me started. I want to wake up to them every day for the rest of my life.”
Then he kissed me. I moaned as he pressed me up against the wall, his hips fitting against me.
He pulled back, his gaze tender. “I have a confession to make, so bear with me. First off, when it comes to Geoff, I kinda go bonkers. Because I know that if he loved you once with just an iota of the way I love you, then he’s never going to be over you completely. I know I need to work on my trust issues. I know I have a messed-up way of looking at girls, but here’s the thing I figured out … you are not those girls. You never will be. I’ve known you were different from the first moment I watched you play, and if you want to go to New York, then I’ll suck it up. Hell, I’ll go to couples therapy to make sure I don’t let it blow up in our faces. I’ll move to Manhattan. I never should have walked off from you yesterday. I was upset thinking you would leave me, and it colored everything I said.”
“You love me?” I clutched his arms.
He pressed his forehead against mine. “I do. You’re part of me. You’re in my heart, in my brain. I’ve touched you, made love to you, tasted you. I can’t ever forget that, and knowing you and your beauty on the inside, I’m never going to be able to watch stars or comets without thinking of you. I’m never going to be able to eat a cheese puff or watch Star Wars without wishing you were beside me.”
His hand drifted up to touch my hair. “I fell for you so hard it scared me, and I couldn’t admit it to myself. I was scared of being used. Scared of losing the most important thing in my life.”
Elation soared. He loved me.
He continued. “Before I got your message about the pictures, I threatened Blair today that I’d go public about our fake relationship. I told her I was in love with you and that I wanted to marry you and surely she had a decent bone—”