She reached the side of the bed and stood before me, wrapped in just a white towel. I tugged the tucked corner free and let the towel fall to the floor.

“What are you doing Coh…?”

I gripped the backs of her thighs, tugging her toward me. “Shh. Come here. Make love to me.”

She crawled onto the bed, settling on my lap and kissed me.

The times when she turned herself over to me completely and became this softer version of herself leveled me. I could always tell that there was more to her—more to our relationship—from the very beginning, even when she didn’t want there to be.

She wasted no time, tugging at my boxers, and blazing a trail of wet kisses down my stomach. I held myself still, rather than pushing my hips up to meet her waiting mouth—which was what I really wanted to do—and instead bit back a curse when her warm mouth closed around me.

God, I loved this girl.

I wrapped both my hands in her hair, lifting it away from her face, losing myself in the scent of her shampoo and the things she could do to me with that naughty mouth of hers.

Once she had me deliriously worked up, she pulled away and smiled up at me with swollen, damp lips. Her eyes held the hint of a challenge, and I slipped my hands under her arms, pulling her up toward me, and deposited her next to me. Then she opened her thighs and I was lost forever.

***

Later, when we were both thoroughly satisfied and exhausted, lying together in the rumpled sheets, I held her body against mine so we were face to face. She nestled even closer into my neck, curling herself against me, and I couldn’t help but smile, noticing how perfectly she fit alongside me.

If I’d had any energy left in my body, I’d probably be nervous, but this just felt right. I reached one hand over the edge of the bed, to find the ring I’d tucked under the mattress. For a second I couldn’t locate it, and I was sure she was about to notice what I was doing when my fingers grasped it. Once the ring was closed safely in my hand all of the puzzle pieces clicked together and I knew everything was right.

I laced my fingers with hers and brought her hand to my lips. “Eliza Jane,” I pressed a kiss to her palm. “I want you to be mine forever. Will you marry me?” I held the sparkling, one-carat ruby ring in the palm of my other hand. She looked at the ring, and then at me, and then at the ring again, and her eyes filled with tears. I chose a ruby rather than a diamond and I hoped she understood why. She was engaged once before, and of course Paul had given her the traditional diamond ring. I wanted something that was just ours, and red was her favorite color. But as I watched her eyes overflow with tears, I was worried I’d done the wrong thing.

A sob broke free from her chest and she threw her arms around my neck. “Yes, yes,” she whispered, kissing my neck in between her murmurings. “Yes, Cohen.”

I squeezed her back, just holding her while she cried. I knew I couldn’t imagine all of the mixed emotions she was possibly feeling at that moment, but all I felt was happiness. “I love you, Eliza,” I whispered.

“I love you, Cohen,” she whispered back.

I wiped the tears from her cheeks and slid the ring up over her knuckle. Seeing the happiness on her face at the sight of the ruby nestled on her finger pushed away all doubt that she liked the ring. She smiled as she looked down at it, turning her finger to refract the light against the deep-crimson gem and diamond-studded band. I loved seeing it on her, and even more than that, I loved seeing her this happy. My mom and Grace had approved of the ring and my plan, and it appeared they hadn’t steered me wrong.

I brought her left hand to my mouth and pressed a kiss over her knuckles. “Mine, forever.”

She cupped my cheek and nodded. “Forever.”

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