"Not going to tell me?" she asked, cocking a brow in question as she moved closer, resting her broken arm across his leg as her other hand slid up his chest and over his shoulder.
"It doesn't matter any longer, because I don't want it," he confessed, unable to stop himself from reaching up with one hand and cupping her beautiful face.
"Then what do you want?" she asked, moving closer until their lips were only a few inches apart.
"You," he simply said.
"Why?" she asked, looking a little confused.
"Because I'm in love with you, Rory," he answered, wondering if she was going to try and kick his ass for saying it again.
"You love me," she said, not asked as she leaned back, robbing him of her touch, but he let her go. What other choice did he have? He knew Rory well enough to know that if he pushed her for something that she didn't want that she'd push right back. For the first time since he met her, he was terrified of pushing her.
"I'm not sure how I feel about you, Connor," she admitted as she stood up and stepped away from him.
"Do you hate me?" he asked, gripping his knees as he struggled to stay where he was and not do something foolish like beg her for a chance, a chance that he probably didn't deserve, but wanted desperately.
"No," she answered, walking away from him and heading for the patio. "I need some time to figure this all out, Connor. I have a lot of things to think over."
"Take as much time as you need. I'll be here when you're ready," he said, knowing as soon as the words left his mouth that he'd just lost her for good.
Oh f**k that.
* * * *
She needed time to think and sort through everything, she reminded herself as she fought the urge to run back inside and throw herself into Connor's arms. A couple of hours ago, she knew where she stood with him. It hadn't mattered that she'd been falling for him, because she'd known that she would never be able to get over what he did.
Now she didn't know what to think about him. For the first time since he came into her life she didn't think that she hated him, at all, not even a little bit. Actually, she was terrified that she wasn't just falling for him anymore, but was more than a little in love with the man. Before she did anything that she might regret later, she needed to be sure that what she felt was real.
She should kick his ass for confusing her, she thought as she opened the sliding glass door and stepped into her room. Why couldn't she just hate him? It made everything so much simpler to-
"Veto," Connor said as he scooped her up in his arms, took her out of the house and placed her bottom on the patio railing before she could put up much of a protest. He settled himself between her legs just as quickly, placing his hands on her h*ps to steady her and hopefully stop her from falling over the side. She’d never been afraid of heights before, but after falling into that cellar and breaking her arm, she could now say that she had a very healthy respect for heights.
"Veto what?" she asked absently, reaching up with her good hand and placing her hand on his bicep to help steady herself as she fought against the urge to look down.
"Space, time, a break, whatever the hell you want to call it, Rory. It's not happening. I've waited too many years to have you in my arms and I'm not about to let you go over some bullshit."
"Wait a minute," she said, frowning up at him as his words registered in her mind. "You can't veto a break!"
"Yes, I can," he said, leaning in and brushing his lips over hers in that soft, fleeting gesture that she both loved and hated. Loved, because it made her feel precious and hated because those kisses always left her wanting more, a lot more.
"Since when?" she demanded, resisting the urge to hit him with her cast when he pulled his mouth away.
"Since now, Rory. You're not allowed to run away, because you're too afraid to face what's going on between us."
"I'm not afraid of anything," she said evenly, using the same response that she used to use when they were kids and he tried to taunt her into doing something asinine, kind of like now.
Taking a chance, a real chance, on him was a huge risk not only because they could wind up killing each other, but if things didn't work out between them, which was a real possibility given their history, she could wind up hating him for breaking her heart. This was a really bad idea, she berated herself inwardly as she looked into his beautiful emerald eyes and worried her bottom lip between her teeth. She should just push him away and end things right now before she got in over her head, but really, when had she ever done the smart thing when it came to Connor?
"I don't think this is such a good idea," she said, needing to at least pretend to show good judgment and think it over, but unfortunately common sense and good judgment were usually never around when it came to Connor. At least this time she wouldn’t have to worry about ending up in jail. Well, she hoped that she didn’t.
“I think it’s a great idea,” he said, pressing a kiss against her forehead before he leaned back and focused all of his attention on her broken hand. When he gingerly picked up her hand and pressed something onto her ring finger, she couldn’t help but frown as she looked down, but between the man’s head and the lack of decent light, she couldn’t see much.
“Um, what the hell are you doing?” she asked when she felt him slide something onto her finger.
“Nothing much. Just decided that you and I are getting married that’s all,” he announced with a careless shrug of his shoulders as he turned his head and pressed a swift kiss against her stunned lips.
“I’m sorry, what the hell is this now?” she demanded, sure that she’d misheard him.
“I’m thinking a November wedding. It will give you plenty of time to plan it and get used to the idea,” he explained as if it wasn’t a big deal when it was a very big freaking deal.
“I can’t marry you, Connor,” she blurted out, really not knowing what else to say and wishing that she’d said it with a little more finesse. Then again, she should have known that Connor wouldn’t take it personally.
“Yes, you can. All you have to do is show up, sign the license, and say ‘I do’” he mused as he leaned in to steal another kiss.
“No, I can’t,” she stubbornly said, leaning back away from him, but it wasn’t all that far considering that he had her sitting on a narrow railing.
“I tell you what, Rory,” he said, wrapping his arms around her and pulling her close until she had no other choice but to put her hands on his shoulders to help support herself and when she did, her breath caught in her throat as her eyes landed on that tiny diamond decorating her finger.