That was so far from the truth, and that he would actually think it was so…
Her tear-blurred gaze fell to his phone.
The moment her head jerked up and he saw the stunned look on her face, he started talking – fast – knowing he was on borrowed time. Make or break, all or nothing. He had just this one last shot to keep her in his life.
“I know my money doesn’t mean a thing to you, but if you could consider—” He saw her lips part as if she was about to speak, and he bit out, “No.” Because he knew she was only going to tell him that this meant nothing, and that just couldn’t be fucking true.
“I’m just asking you to consider—”
His voice was as savage as it was desperate, and it only made Kady cry harder.
“My being a billionaire would mean everything to your parents, and don’t you want to make them happy? And think of your former best friend. Margaux, isn’t it? Think of how good it would feel to introduce me to her and see the look on her face when she realizes that all she has is a small fish in a big pond while you’ve got the person who owns all the fucking ponds. And think of Humbug. Wouldn’t it fucking feel great—”
“Please stop—” He had already won. They were over. So why was he doing this?
Just consider it, Kady.” His voice shook. “Just fucking consider—”
“You want me to consider using you?”
“I’m telling you I love you.”
And he was looking at her like he did mean that, and oh God, she couldn’t…how could she believe him, after everything?
“I love you, to the point that the thought of never having you back makes me feel like I’m about to shit in my pants. I’m telling you I love you, to the point that I want to be in your life in any way possible.”
His voice cracked, and hearing it made her own heart crack.
“Any fucking way, baby.”
And the crack kept getting bigger.
“I’m so scared,” she choked out, “to believe you.”
“I know.” His voice was bleak. “And I wish…I fucking wish there were words I could say to take the fear away. But there aren’t. All I can tell you is that I’ve got the same fucking fear inside of me, and I don’t think it will ever go away either. Because I’ve known the pain of losing you, and there will always be a part of me terrified as fuck that one day you’d come to your senses and walk away. But even with all that…I’d rather live with all of those fears, as long as I have you back.”
And this time…
This time, her heart completely cracked open.
So his heart could be a part of hers again.
And they could heal together.
Slade tensed but forced himself to keep still when Kady slowly walked to him.
She took his hand, and his whole body went rigid.
Her gaze lifted to his.
“You once taught me how to know if I was making a certain face,” she said tremulously, “when I’m looking at the person I wanted.”
Slade jerked at the words. Was she saying…that she could talk about such a thing now…did it mean…
“I thought I’d r-return the f-favor this time.” Her voice shook, and her fingers shook harder as she lifted his hand up and slowly pressed her cheek against it. “When a woman d-does this,” she whispered, “and she’s looking at a man…” The tears flowed in silence, but not a single one of them hurt. “That’s how you know she’s looking at the man she loves…and who loves her back.”
Epilogue: Take My Breath Away
* * *
“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul – and sings the tunes without the words – and never stops at all.” ~ Emily Dickinson
* * *
A few days later
* * *
“Breakfast’s here,” Elizabeth sang out as she and Arden bustled out of the kitchen, with the latter carrying a heavily-laden tray. Afterwards, she set the plates down on the counter with a flourish: Farica’s was an Instagrammable buffet on a plate of fruits, cheeses, and breads while Kady’s was a butter-dripping three-layered pancake topped with a rainbow assortment of berries.
As for Slade’s, his bacon-sprinkled and cheese-stuffed potato pie was just as aesthetically pleasing, but while the women that flanked him on each side were busy oohing and aahing, the billionaire owner could only grimace.
The breakfast pie was a part of the cafe’s secret, by-request-only menu, and what made it most special was the message subtly and lovingly knife-carved on the crust.
Humble Pie, Courtesy of Anah Blakely
Kady couldn’t help feeling concerned as she watched Slade force himself to dig into his pie. “Is it really that bad?”
“Of course not,” Farica answered before her friend could. “And that’s the beauty of it,” she said smugly. “It’s all psychological—” Her voice turned gleeful. “And best of all, he still has five more days left of eating them.”