love me (trust series #2)

Copyright © 2014 by Kristin Mayer

All rights reserved.

Cover Designer: Chris Chandler and Eddie Smith at Chandler Graphics

Editor and Interior Designer: Jovana Shirley, Unforeseen Editing,
www.unforeseenediting.com

Cover Photo: April Park at April Park Photography
www.aprilparkphotography.com

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage or retrieval system without written permission of the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Visit my website at
http://www.authorkristinmayer.com

ISBN-13: 978-0-9899913-3-9

This book is dedicated to my husband, Paul,

my daughter, Makaela,

and all four of my parents, Kathy, Tim, Gehrig, and Janet.

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Epilogue

Damien Extras

Thank You

My eyes slowly start to come open. I’m lying in a tangled mess of sheets, and my fiancé is sleeping soundly next to me with his limbs wrapped around me like a vine. As of late, because of the stress he’s been under, the only time he looks relaxed is when he is sleeping. There’s a killer out there, responsible for his sister’s death, and whoever it is wants me now.

Pushing those thoughts aside, I focus on the memory of last night. It was something that comes out of fairy tales—the extravagant gift of my parents’ farm along with my horse, Gingersnap, the proposal, the beautiful ring, and the romantic dinner for two.

 

We finish our dinner as Gingersnap grazes beside us, nickering every so often. Every chance I get, I stare at my ring in wonder.

I am Damien’s, and he is mine.

“I’m glad you like your ring. I had it made specially for you. There’s not another one like it in the world.”

I move to sit on his lap, and he immediately scoots back and brings me to him before I kiss him. The kiss, the connection, the love feels stronger between us.

“I love it. When did you do all of this?”

“The day of your big shoot at the hotel. I had to stay back because the final paperwork arrived for Gingersnap and the land. Your ring also came back after having some additions made to it.”

His black hair moves in the breeze as I play with the pieces of hair right above his ear.

“It’s all perfect. Are we driving all the way back home tonight?”

A look of mischief passes over his face. “No.”

“No?”

He gives me a wink with those piercing blue eyes. “I have another surprise for you, and it should be here soon. And no, I’m not telling you. You can be patient for a few more minutes.”

When I give him my pouty face, he chuckles and presses his lips to mine for a light kiss. Right as we are about to deepen it, I hear a vehicle approaching, causing me to immediately break the kiss. A tour bus is driving through the field toward us with a car following it.

“What is that?”

“Well, I didn’t want to take the time to go to a decent hotel, so I brought the decent hotel to us.”

I don’t know why that makes me giggle, but it does. The bus comes to a stop. The security guard turns off the vehicle monstrosity and nods our way as he heads to the car that followed him in. Shortly after, the car drives away.

“Come, I want to savor you as my fiancée.”

The seductive purr in his voice causes that pulsing desire to start between my legs. He picks me up, and I let out a yelp of excitement as my feet leave the ground.

“Isn’t this supposed to be saved for the honeymoon?”

“I’m a thorough man. I’m carrying you over the threshold as my fiancée, too.”

Kissing me as he walks us to the door, he hugs me closer to him. He walks us up the few steps of the bedroom-on-wheels, and then he sets me down.

This is more extravagant than any motor home I have ever seen.
It’s weird to see Damien in a tour bus.

The inside is done in dark wood, and the décor screams rock star with the modern furniture in bold, vibrant colors of purples and reds. Although it’s not my style, it works.

He leads me through a small living room that connects to a kitchen and eating area. There’s not much time to fully take in my surroundings as Damien continues to lead me down the dark hall.

“Where’d you get this?” I ask.

“I called in a special favor.”

With that, he pushes open the back door to a master bedroom. In the dim light, I can see a queen-sized bed and two sitting chairs. He moves to the side of the bed and turns on a lamp, casting a warm glow throughout the room. The moment he looks at me, the air between us charges with an intense sexual energy.

“I’m going to cherish you, Alli, for the rest of our lives and then some.” He comes toward me slowly as he unbuttons his shirt, displaying his toned chest. “I’m going to spend the rest of my life making you happy.” His shirt drops to the floor, and he goes for his belt buckle. “I’m going to be your forever.” He pushes down his pants. Closing the gap between us, he brings his lips to mine.

Being together is like melding us into one person even though we haven’t said our vows yet.

A sigh of contentment leaves my lips.

 

The images of Damien and me making love numerous times last night flash through my mind. The connection is still incredible between us as I lie here this morning.

I catch a glimpse of my ring, and it takes my breath away. It’s a large princess cut diamond solitaire with a band of solid diamonds.

As I shift to get more comfortable, Damien stirs beside me. I wonder how I found someone so perfect for me. Prior to meeting Damien, I was lost and afraid to open myself up after losing both my parents in a horrible accident. He found me, rescued me, and gave meaning back to my life.

My mom used to always say,
When life gives you a hundred reasons to cry, show life that you have a thousand reasons to smile.

Damien is all those thousands of reasons as to why I am smiling.

He raises his blue eyes to meet my blue-green gaze, and he lifts an eyebrow. “What are you thinking about so hard this early in the morning?” he asks, his voice filled with sleep.

How does his black hair look perfect day or night?
I just don’t understand it.
I think it looks even sexier after he’s been sleeping, if that’s even possible.

I snuggle closer to him. “Just how perfect last night was and how wonderful you are.”

He nuzzles my neck as he responds, “Mmm, it was. You’re perfect for me, too, baby. It was the most wonderful night of my life. Now, we just need to decide when we are going to officially make you my wife.”

My head is still spinning from becoming engaged. I haven’t even begun to think about the wedding. “We just got engaged. Don’t you think we should enjoy this part of our relationship for a bit?” I run my index finger down his arm that’s wrapped around my waist.

He turns his mouth to my collarbone and starts nibbling. “No, I think we’ve enjoyed this stage long enough. We are ready for the next one, baby.”

“Mmm…” That’s all I can manage as I am lost in Damien’s touch.

He shows me again just how wonderful we are together. He could probably get me to agree to anything at this point.

After receiving a thorough wake-up call in the form of orgasms from my fiancé, we are in the kitchen, eating from an assortment of grains and fruit. The food was prepacked and waiting in the refrigerator for us. The complete attention to detail he gives is incredible. He makes me feel like I’m the only thing that matters in his life.

Breakfast time with Damien is one of my favorite times. He’s normally shirtless, which means I get to just stare at him unabashedly. He’s wearing his usual black silk pajama pants that hang just below that delicious V-muscle, and it is a glorious sight. His sculpted muscles move in synchronicity as he eats.

This has to be the definition of perfection.

I’m only wearing one of his gray T-shirts, and it reaches my mid-thigh. My legs are folded underneath me as I sit in the chair next to Damien with my hair thrown up in a mess on top of my head.

He just put a bite of granola into his mouth when I say, “You know, I think you should tie me up sometime and have your wicked way with me.”

He spews his cereal and starts choking as his eyes grow wide. Pressing my lips together, I try to hide my amusement while I help him get through this coughing fit.

I love the book Sam, my best friend in the entire world, gave me when she stayed at Damien’s house last time. This book,
101 Ways to Make Your Guy Scream in Pleasure,
has given me some excellent tips that I cannot wait to try out on my future husband.

“Are you okay?”

“Holy shit, Alli. That was unexpected.” He’s still recovering.

As I clean up some of the cereal, I act as nonchalant as possible. I’m not succeeding as little giggles escape me. My phone beeps from a nearby chair, and I grab it to see that it’s Sam.

Sam: Hey, girl! I can’t stand it any longer. What did you say?

It figures that Sam already knows.

I feel giddy, thinking about sharing this with her. My fingers freeze right before I start typing my response.

When and how are we going to announce our engagement?

I have no idea what proper protocol is for these types of announcements. My mind continues to think about what the announcement will bring—more drama.
Ugh, his parents are not going to like this.

I’m guessing my eyebrows are furrowed in contemplation because Damien asks, concerned, “Baby, what’s wrong?”

I raise my eyes to meet his. “Sam just asked what I said. Then, I started thinking about how we are going to announce it to everyone, what everyone is going to say, and how certain people are going to react.”

“Do you not want to tell everyone right away?”

I can hear and sense the disappointment coming from Damien as he watches me closely.

A little panic starts to bubble up as I begin to comprehend all the decisions to be made. “I didn’t mean it like that. I do if you do.” I start rambling faster and faster. “We just haven’t talked about it. I just—”

“Alli, just breathe, baby.” He grabs my hand, looking me earnestly in the eyes.

I take a deep breath and immediately feel better.

When I’m calmer, he says, “Of course, I want to announce it to everyone today. I’ve been dying to officially have you as mine since I met you. Only four people know right now—Sam, her parents, and Bane. No one else knows.”

I cock my head to one side because I’m not sure what he means.

He continues without me having to voice anything. “I asked for permission from Sam, Dean, and Chandra before asking you to marry me. I wanted to do this as traditional as possible. Bane only knows since he’s the head of security.”

My eyes gloss over with moisture at his thoughtfulness. By getting Sam and her parents involved, he’s tried to make this as absolutely perfect as possible.

“Baby, I sure hope those are happy tears.”

“Yes, yes, they are.” I grab his hand. “Thank you for making this so incredibly special, and thank you for giving me you.”

“I’m yours, and I’ve been yours since I saw you at the hotel that first time. What are you going to say to Sam? We will do this however you want. I just want you to be happy.” He places his other hand on my cheek and removes my few tears that have escaped.

I can’t help the smile that emerges, and I can see the sparkle of happiness in Damien’s crystal blue eyes.

Practically bouncing in my seat, I say excitedly, “I’m going to tell her I said yes!”

I can see Damien’s gorgeous megawatt grin from the corner of my eye as I grab my phone and text Sam back.

Me: I said YES! So. Excited.

Sam: Me, too! Can’t wait to see you at lunch.

Me: Sounds good.

Sam: Don’t forget that my parents won’t let you two stay together if you stay the night.

Me: Okay. Wouldn’t dream of it. I know how traditional they are.

Sam: You might want to tell Damien before he agrees to come. I’ve seen his caveman style firsthand when it comes to you.

Me: Okay. Thanks for the heads-up. I say it’s time for Operation Caveman Payback. Are you down?

Sam: Hells to the yeah, I’m down to get Wales back! Congratulations, Allison. You deserve this happy ending!

Me: xoxo

Sam: xoxo

I look up to see Damien watching me. “Do you know what we are doing today? Sam mentioned that we’re seeing her parents, but I didn’t know if that was in the plans.”

His thumb starts stroking those soothing circles on my hand that I love.

“That’s up to you. They wanted us to come by as soon as we were up, and they asked for us to consider staying the night. They want to do a family lunch in celebration of our engagement.”

It’s so sweet that he already had this planned with them, and he’s letting me make all these types of decisions.

“Sounds good. I’ll let Sam know we will be over in a bit.”

Me: Be there in a couple of hours. Damien thinks we are staying the night. When we get there, let him know of your parents’ expectations.

Sam: Ha-ha. OMG! You betcha! Classic! This is going to make Sam–1, Damien–0. And with the other bet I’m going to win at the end of the season, I’ll be at 2. His ass is grass.

Me: You’re crazy. See you in a bit.

Sam: Muah.

When Sam and Damien first met, they made a bet that he wouldn’t be able to make me a sports fan. With Damien teaching me about sports through sexual extracurricular activities, he’s about to win, but Sam doesn’t know that yet.

Damien looks at the clock on the wall. “I think the shower is big enough for the both of us.” His voice becomes a little raspy.

I know what’s about to happen. Springing from my chair, I start running for the shower, stripping my shirt off as I go. He’s up and after me instantly. Catching me in the hallway, he spins me around. As he picks me up, I wrap my legs around his waist.

“Baby, you’re feisty this morning.”

In response, I grind into him, and he groans. Shifting his body, he frees himself from his pajama pants and pushes me against the wall. He slides into me, and I lean my head back at the complete sensation.

“I’ll never get enough of you, baby.” He continues his assault on me—filling me, stretching me, sending tingling pleasure through my body.

“Please, harder.”

He uses his hands on my ass to increase the movement, providing the maximum friction between us. My inner muscles start to quake. He sucks on the sensitive part of my neck, and it causes me to ignite from within.

“Damien…”

His name leaving my lips sends him over the edge. I love having him inside me.

“So perfect, each and every time, Alli.”

I collapse onto him, and he continues to make our way to the bathroom.

I’m looking for my lip gloss in my purse when Damien emerges from the back bedroom.

Clothes were also provided for us on the bus. He’s wearing jeans with a green-and-white plaid shirt that’s untucked and rolled up at the elbows. He is the most delicious-looking cowboy I have ever seen in my life. It creates the sexiest combination, like city boy meets country boy. I’m in jeans and a white camisole underneath a sheer white peasant top with an eyelet trim. Long, dangly earrings and my brown ankle boots complete the outfit. I’m sad that the onset of fall will nearly eliminate the fun dresses and sandals.

“Alli, stop looking at me like that, or we’re never going to leave.”

I lick my lips, and he immediately grabs my hand and pulls me out of our suite-on-wheels.

“It’s hard enough for me to keep my hands off of you normally, but when you look at me like you want me, it makes not having you damn near impossible.”

The way he’s practically dragging us to the car has me snickering.

We make our way over to Sam’s parents’ home at an excessively slow rate due to the dirt roads. I smile to myself at how he babies his sports car. I wouldn’t think a billionaire extraordinaire would care about such things.

Finally, we pull into the gravel driveway of Sam’s home, and her mom’s car is missing. The two-story house has white siding with a metal white shop off to the side. Both her parents are retired now, but her dad still fixes tractors and farm equipment for fun.

Sam comes bounding out of the house as we get out of the car. After grabbing me in a bear hug that nearly knocks me back into the car, she starts giggling and jumping.

“Oh my gosh, Allison! You’re engaged. You’re really engaged.”

Now, we are both bouncing up and down, like we did back in middle school when we got tickets to our favorite boy-band concert.

“I know. I know.”

When we stop moving around like little jumping beans, Damien is right behind me with his hand on my back. Since we have been engaged, I can sense Damien is even more possessive than he was prior to the engagement. I absolutely love it. It sounds crazy, but knowing how much he is madly in love with me sends shivers all through me.

Sam’s long black hair shines in the sunlight as her emerald eyes sparkle with excitement. She starts rapidly firing questions at me. “So, are you going for a long or short engagement? When’s the wedding? Where are you getting married? What are your colors? I need details, details, details!”

Wow, there’s so much to decide. I have no idea since we haven’t discussed anything yet. All these decisions are going to be stressful.

“Um…”

Damien decides to take over the Sam inquisition. “Our engagement will be as short as possible. We still have to work through all the specifics. But one thing is for sure—I cannot wait to make this woman my wife.” He gives me a gentle, loving squeeze.

“Oh, Wales, look at you. I knew a deep romantic was in there somewhere.”

Sam and Damien give each other a sibling-type smile.

Sam gets excited all over again as she turns her attention back to me. “I just can’t believe you’re engaged. I’m so excited for you.”

“Thanks. It still seems like a dream.” I remember that Chandra’s car is missing. “I was hoping we’d be able to tell your parents, but it doesn’t look like they are here.”

I give her a wink to remind her of our little plot against my poor, unsuspecting fiancé. He thinks we’re staying here tonight, but he doesn’t realize how traditional Sam’s parents are regarding cohabitation in their house.

Sweetly, Sam starts the ploy. “Well, when I texted you this morning, Mom wanted to make sure Damien had asked you last night, so she could finish planning the celebration lunch. After I told her that you’d said yes, she decided lunch wasn’t good enough, and she turned it into a celebration dinner, if that’s okay. She knew all along that you’d say yes, but she got really excited when it was confirmed. Are you guys staying the night?”

Damien is the one who responds first, which is perfect for this little operation. “Sure, if that’s what Alli wants to do. I wanted to take Alli somewhere today, so I might go ahead and do it now—unless, of course, you need our help.”

Sam gives us a no-nonsense hand gesture. “No way. We are celebrating you guys. I’ll get the guest bedroom ready for you, Damien. Allison will have to sleep with me. My parents are very traditional, and since you aren’t officially married, they won’t allow you to share a room.”

Damien chokes behind me as he tightens his grip on me. I cannot believe how she is able to keep her face straight. Everything she said is true, but she knows we aren’t staying here—at least until we are married. I feel like I am about to double over with laughter at any second.

From the side, I look up at him. “You okay?”

He’s at a loss for words, and he just nods. I turn back around and give Sam a wink. Damien’s all but got me in a death grip at this point, and I have to mash my lips together to keep from giggling.

Sam continues on as if what she just said has had no impact on the man who barbarically takes me from her at bedtime anytime she stays the night at his home. “I’ve got to finish putting the cake in the oven. I’ll see you guys when you get back. Congratulations to you both again. Wales, you better be one hell of a brother-in-law.” She gives us both a hug.

Damien tries to chuckle at her comment, but it sounds more like he’s an animal in pain. He’s still reeling from her earlier nonchalant statement.

Mental high five to Sam for sure.

In unison, Damien and I both say, “Bye, Sam!”

She waves and turns to go back into the house.

Good grief, she’s smooth. She’s the perfect accomplice.

I look innocently at Damien. “So, where are you taking me?”

“It’s a surprise. Are you ready?” he asks in an almost robotic voice.

He’s trying to recover. I nod and follow his lead as he opens my car door. He’s totally speechless.

Poor guy.

He’s in the car and about to pull out of the driveway.

I touch his knee and coyly say, “What’s wrong? You’re pretty quiet all of a sudden.”

He closes his eyes as he takes a deeper than normal breath, and then he looks at me with his blue eyes on fire. “I’m trying to do everything you want here, Alli, but I cannot spend the night without you in my bed. There’s just no fucking way. I’m going through my options on how the hell I’m going to get you in my arms tonight without disrespecting Sam’s parents.”

Seriously, I say, “Well, it’s a good thing I told Sam we aren’t staying the night then, isn’t it?”

“You two just played me?” he asks incredulously, his face a myriad of emotions.

I start giggling. “Yes, it’s been in motion since breakfast. I expected you to go all caveman on me, but this might be a better reaction.”

His lips turn into a smile. “Well played, my love.” He leans in closer to me and grazes his teeth along my jawline. “I look forward to getting you back.”

With a comment like that, my thighs push together to hold back the ache.

“But not now, baby. I want to take my fiancée somewhere, if that’s okay.” His face is both sensual and loving.

“Sounds good.”

With my assent, he holds out the blindfold that I had to put on for the drive out to my parents’ farm before Damien proposed. Without hesitation, I grab it and put it on.

“If today’s surprise is as awesome as last night, you’ll never hear me complain again about blindfolds.”

He starts the slow drive to our unknown destination. “Last night was the best night of my life, Alli.”

I could burst from all the happiness I feel.

Sooner than I would have thought, I hear the car shift into park. I assumed that we would be going on a longer journey, like we did last night. If I had paid attention, I could have probably figured out where we were going.

Damn it.

The driver’s side door opens and closes, and then he comes to assist me out of the car, just like last night. Slowly, Damien guides me along the way, and the sound of gravel crunches beneath our feet. One hand is at the small of my back, and his other is holding my hand up to his chest over his heart. He’s got something in his hand at my back, and it makes a crinkling noise as we walk. It sounds like plastic.

I don’t know why we really don’t say anything during these moments. I think it’s because we are both taking in every part and branding the moment to our brain.

Everything smells and sounds the same as it did out at my parents’ farm. We stop, and Damien turns me to my right.

His voice pierces through my current state of darkness. “Alli, before I take off your blindfold, I want to explain something. I came here to pronounce my love and intentions for you back in the summer, one week after we made love for the first time. I came back again when I knew how and where I would propose to you. Now that I have asked you to be my wife and you said yes, I think it’s important for us to come back here. I want us to bring all our important milestones here—when we get married, when you become pregnant, when our first child is born—all of them, Alli. I want to give you the world, and this is the only way I know how to come close to giving that to you. I will love you forever. Please love me forever.”

Tears begin to pool in my eyes. An unnamed emotion came over me when Damien talked about me becoming pregnant with his child. I know he wants kids, but for him to say it like that makes my heart blossom and explode in never-ending love as I realize that I will one day carry his child.

“Damien, I’ll love you forever, I promise. You’re my world.”

He gives me a gentle kiss on the lips before stepping back to my side. He unties the blindfold and drops it to the ground. My eyes focus on what’s in front of me. I cannot believe it. We are at my parents’ gravesites. The tears begin to flow as the emotion of everything sets in.

My thoughts are chaotic as I wait for the feelings I normally have when I come here by myself—sadness, loneliness, anger. But after hearing his beautiful words, I feel things here I’ve never felt before—happiness, love, hope. I never would have thought I could have those feelings again and be able to keep them a part of my life.

Sensing Damien’s anxiousness by my side, I turn and throw my hands around his neck. “Oh, Damien! I love you so much. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”

He pulls me tighter to him. “I hope those are happy tears, baby, because I would never try to upset you. I just thought that this is something you would have wanted them to know about and be a part of.” His hands are stroking my back.

I pull back and wipe away my tears to clear my vision, so I can focus on Damien.
His love and concern for me are evident.

“This is perfect. I didn’t even know I needed this until now. They would have loved you.”

He pulls me back into an embrace, and we stand there for an immeasurable amount of time. After a while, Damien hands me a bouquet of flowers.

That must have been the crinkling noise I heard.

I grab the flowers and kneel in front of the large tombstone that has both of my parents’ names inscribed on it. “Daddy, Mom, I miss and love you so much. My life will never be the same without you in it. But I want you to know that I’m going to be okay now. I love Damien with all my heart, and he loves me. He would be the exact person you would have handpicked for me if you were still here. I’m so happy because of Damien. Mom, he’s my happily ever after, like Daddy was for you.”

I lay the flowers on the grave and then hover my hands over their names on the tombstone. My throat tightens. To be able to share this with them is special beyond words I can express. Standing up, I walk over to Damien, who looks like this is affecting him emotionally, too.

“Baby, I love you so much. I swear that I will spend the rest of my life showing you.”

This will be one of the most cherished moments of my life. “I know, and I love you, too. Thank you for giving this to me. It’s the first time I have come here and didn’t feel like the sadness was going to swallow me whole.”

“Oh, baby.”

We hug and just stand there, absorbing the love we have for each other. This is one of the most special gifts he could have ever given me.

The gentle breeze is soothing as we rock back and forth.

When we start to let go of each other, I ask, “Would you like to go into the church? It’s where my mom and dad got married and where I was also baptized.”

“I would love to.”

He grabs my hand, and we slowly make our way to the church.

The church is an older design without a narthex. When we walk into the church, we are literally in the sanctuary. The church itself is white with stained glass windows lining each side of the church. On the top of the church is a huge steeple. My mom was part of the committee who worked hard to get the new, improved one. They wanted to make a statement, and they were so proud of its splendor. At night, a light on it illuminates it in a heavenly way.

As we make our way through the old wooden doors, I am flooded with happy memories. Three sections of pews sit in front of the pulpit at the far end with seating for the choir behind it. Off to the left is where the piano is kept. It’s a simple church without all of the high technology that is seen in a lot of churches today. And for some reason, it works, and no one would change a thing about it.

Damien pulls me to one of the pews in the middle section, and we take a seat. Memories from my childhood pour into my mind.

He interrupts my reflective thoughts in almost a whisper, “This is where your parents were married?”

I lean my head on his shoulder. “Yes, they both grew up in this area and came to this church as kids. I think they were the third generation to go here.”

“Do you want to get married here, Alli?”

He seems to be making the wedding all about me, but he should have some say in this, too.

“I don’t know. What do you want? This should be about the both of us.”

He puts his index finger under my chin and raises it until I meet his gaze. He’s got his super-serious face on. “The only thing I want is for you to be my wife as quickly as possible. If you’d marry me tomorrow, I would make it happen. I’m getting the only thing I want, which is you. I really want to know what you want. Any other details don’t matter at all to me. Please tell me.”

When I stop for two seconds and think about it, I know exactly what I want. I feel so selfish telling him what that is, but I know he wants and deserves the truth. I know it will never happen, and I’m okay with that, but I might as well put it out there to give us some sort of starting point. I just want to share my life with this man.

“Okay, I’ll tell you. Please know that in the end, I just want to be married to you, too. We can change any of this. I want us to both have the wedding we want.”

He nods for me to continue before I’ve even finished talking. He’s excited that I haven’t completely sidestepped this conversation.

Here we go.
“I would prefer an incredibly small wedding, and I would like to get married without anyone knowing because of the excess drama that would ensue. Preferably, I’d like it to happen before anyone even knows we’re engaged. We seem to have a lot of crazies in our lives even if we generally don’t let them affect our relationship. The drama still causes stress by just having to deal with it. I want this to be one of the happiest times in our lives. I would love to have the ceremony here because of the significance. My parents had a beautiful marriage, and I know we are going to, too. I don’t need any fancy decorations, but I do want a beautiful dress.”

“Define incredibly small.”

He sounds hopeful, which I’m surprised about because my wants sound absurd, even to me. I figured he would want privacy, but all that I mentioned just seems a little subpar for Damien.

“I just want to be surrounded by those who love and support us wholeheartedly in our marriage. I know this isn’t possible, and it’s selfish, but I want only Sam and her parents in attendance. I feel horrible even having those thoughts because I know your parents should be a part of it, but you asked, and I wanted to be honest with you.” Guilt washes over me. I basically just told him that I don’t want anyone associated with his life at our wedding.

“Never feel guilty for telling me what you need or want. If we did all of that, how fast would you be willing to get married?”

This is so not going how I thought it would go. If his eyes are any indication of how he is feeling, he would be jumping up and down in his chair in jubilation.

“Damien, I would never ask that of you, but in all honesty, I’d marry you tomorrow if I had my dress. I don’t need anything else.”

He angles his body slightly, so he can look me straight in the face. “Are you absolutely sure that is all you want?”

Oh geez, is it possible that he’s actually going to go through with this? Good grief, I could be getting married tomorrow.

“It is, but there has to be some things you want. Don’t you want your parents or your friends to attend?” I don’t know if I should start panicking or not.
Is this too fast?

“I actually want exactly what you do. It sounds perfect. We might need to do some kind of celebratory party afterward to minimize the fallout with the family and friends on my side, but it would be at the time and place of our choosing. Does that sound okay to you?”

This is what I want. This feels right. We’re meant to be together. Forever.

“Yes, of course, that would be fine, more than fine. It’s perfect.”

Oh my gosh, did we basically almost plan our wedding?
I should be so overwhelmed because the wedding will potentially happen sooner rather than later, but I only feel elation. “When do you want to have the wedding?”

“You said tomorrow would be the soonest we could get married, so we will get married tomorrow.”

He is completely glowing, which causes my heart to soar.

We are getting married tomorrow. Wow—just wow!

“Tomorrow, it is. What about the dress, pastor, getting the church? What if—”

He silences me with a kiss. My brain is on overload.

“Alli, I’ll take care of everything. Don’t overwhelm that beautiful head of yours with any worries on the details. Let me give this to you. We’ll probably need to get married in the evening. All you need to do is sit back and enjoy this moment. I will make it perfect for you, baby.”

“You’re too good to me.” I smile from ear to ear as the joy starts to consume me. It’s so surreal. I nudge him playfully, and then I put my head on his shoulder as I look into his eyes. “Are you ready to turn in your bachelor card?”

My hand goes to his chest, and I can feel his steady heartbeat. He’s not nervous about it at all as his heart continues to thud at a normal pace.

He puts his arm around my shoulder and pulls me to him while he’s giving me that are-you-crazy look
.
“I’d turn it in right now if I could get the wedding pulled together with the snap of a finger. I’ve been waiting to make you my wife since our second date. I’ve thought about how I was going to convince you not to make me wait a year.”

He knows me so well.
From memory, I start tracing his tattoo through his shirt. “The whole incident with Martin changed my view on us. We could have lost each other that day, and I don’t ever want to chance losing another moment with you.”

I can feel Damien slightly stiffen as we both recall those horrifying moments when Martin had me at gunpoint in the hotel. Life could be very different right now.

“I feel the same way, baby.”

We sit there for a few silent moments, reflecting, when our situation with the killer crosses my mind again. If Martin is telling the truth, someone is framing him and wants me.

“Hey, Damien?”

“What is it, baby?” He rubs my arm with his hand soothingly.

Hesitantly, I start, “Please don’t misunderstand what I’m about to say. If the same person who killed Rebecca is potentially after me, like Martin said, do you think that this wedding could aggravate the killer?”

“Alli, if that mother—” He abruptly stops, looks toward the altar, and takes a deep breath. “Baby, I’m going to keep you safe. We will figure it out.”

“I know you will.”
I need to change the subject—pronto.
“Wow, we are getting married tomorrow.”

“You know what this means, don’t you?”

Hmm…

I’m trying to filter through everything that has happened so quickly. “That I’m about to have a lot of paperwork to fill out? That is, unless you are thinking of becoming Damien Scott. Then, I guess you would be the one with a lot of paperwork.”

He chuckles beside me as he rubs those ever soothing circles on my arm. “You’re a funny girl, but I think Allison Wales sounds perfect.”

My heart speeds up at the sound of my new name.
My new name. Wow.

“Actually, I was thinking that you will be officially moved in with me.”

“You’re stuck with me forever, Damien.”

“Forever? I don’t think that will be long enough.”

Like they had done a million times before when I used to stay the night, Sam’s parents call from the hallway, “Night, girls.”

“Night,” we both say in unison.

It feels like déjà vu being here in Sam’s bedroom as if we were still in high school.

My poor fiancé got duped this evening as I think about what just happened.

 

All evening, Damien has been in and out of the room on the phone, talking with who knows whom regarding the wedding. He wants to take care of everything and surprise me.

Looking at the clock, I see it’s almost eleven thirty, and I instantly yawn.

Damien comes back in the room and walks to my side. “We’ve got a big day tomorrow. It’s probably time to go to bed.”

Peaking up at him, I yawn again. “Do you need any help?”

“No, baby, I’ve got it all handled.”

He holds out his hand, and I grab it to stand.

As we are about to say good night to everyone, Chandra clears her throat. “Since it’s tradition for the groom not to see the bride, Alli, do you want to stay with Sam tonight, like you used to as girls?”

Damien brings me closer to him. I can sense the warring emotions as they go through him. He doesn’t want to spend the night apart. With all that he was doing for the wedding, I think he assumed I would be staying in that crazy vehicle he had moved to Sam’s parents’ driveway.

Tilting my head back, I give Damien permission to decide. If he chooses for me to go with him, Sam’s parents will not be happy due to their traditional values.

He tightens his grip on my hip, looking at me, as he answers, “I’ll be right outside if you need anything.”

 

After changing into our pajamas, Sam and I slide under the covers in near darkness. The only light glowing is from the moon seeping into the room.

Sam asks, “Can you believe you’re getting married tomorrow?”

A smile involuntarily emerges on my face. “No, it’s still surreal. I’m glad your parents understood our reasoning. I like what your dad said tonight at dinner, regarding our decision to get married so quickly.”

I think back to her father’s words.

 

After all, when you agree to get married, you’ve agreed to be each other’s forever. It doesn’t matter when you get married after you’ve decided to become one. It just matters you both agree on the journey
.

 

I continue speaking to Sam. “It feels right, but it’s still unbelievable.”

“Dad does have a way with words.” She starts giggling. “You know, when Damien left to go to that motor-home monstrosity thing, I was so hoping he was going to come back all caveman-like and haul you off.” She snorts. “That thing looks hysterical in our front yard. It’s just not like Damien at all.”

She’s almost in tears from laughter when she continues, “For him to have it delivered out to your parents’ place, his P must’ve been overly anxious to get into your V. Shit, that is so funny every time I say it.”

We both start laughing because it is.

I’m practically gasping for breath. “I know. I’ve never seen him in a no-win situation.”

She puts the pillow over her face now, trying to stifle her hysterical giggling. “He looked like he was going to have an aneurysm. It was so damn funny.” Sam’s doubled over, gasping for air as she continues in a muffled voice from the pillow. “I know that shouldn’t be funny, but the look on his face was hilarious.”

I give her arm a light nudge, but at this point, we are both a mess. “You’re terrible, Sam.”

After a few more minutes of laughing, we get our senses about us.

I lean up on my elbow and ask, “Are you going to tell me what Damien has planned?”

“Nope.” She pops her P-sound loud. “He wants it all to be a surprise for you, so just chill.”

My phone beeps from the nightstand. I look over to the clock and notice it’s 11:59. After grabbing my phone, I see a text from Damien.

Damien: This will be the last night you are Allison Scott. Tomorrow, you will be my wife, Allison Wales. I cannot wait for that moment, Alli.

Allison Wales. I can’t believe it.
Before I even have a chance to respond, I receive another text a minute later.

Damien: Today, you become my wife. I’ve been dreaming of this moment since I met you. I just never knew it until you walked into it. Good night, my love. I’ll meet you at the end of the aisle. I’m counting down the seconds until then. I love you.

My whole body is alive and vibrating at those words. I want to run out of the house to where he is and give him a kiss, but I know Sam would tackle me to the ground if I tried.

Me: I cannot wait to become your wife. Thank you for choosing me. Off to bed now. I’ll be the one in white.

Kicking my legs in excitement, I wait for another text, but Sam plucks the phone from my hands. I go to grab it from her.

She says, “Hey, I’m just doing as I’m told. He wants to make sure you get some sleep. The man has no willpower when it comes to you.”

I give my best pouty face to her back.

Without even seeing me, she responds, “Pouting won’t help. He bribed me to listen to him, and no, I can’t tell you what his bribe is.”

My mouth drops open, and I simply turn over.
Traitor
.

“Night, sweetie.”

“You’re a traitor. You’re supposed to be my friend.”

She gives my arm a nudge. “Oh, I can be bought.”

We both start giggling again.

I lie down and try to let my mind rest. Fast and furious don’t even begin to describe how quick this wedding came together. I focus on what my mom used to tell me when my mind would try to overwhelm itself.

Follow your heart, Allison. It will always be your North Star to guide you when you’re lost.

I never knew truer words.

I’m awoken when Chandra brings in a tray with an assortment of pastries and fruit.

“Good morning, girls. Breakfast is served.”

It all comes to my mind in a rush.
I am getting married today.
Holy shit!
Throwing the covers back, I shoot straight up. “I’m getting married! I’m getting married! I’m getting married!” I’m practically bouncing on the bed.

“Oh mercy, Mama. We’ll have to sedate her before the wedding,” Sam says, stretching.

I stick my tongue out to her.

Chandra lays the tray on the bed, and I grab a croissant.

“You know, girls, I can remember when the two of you used to play wedding with our little dog, Dump.”

We both start laughing. I picture that little stray brown dog dressed in a black T-shirt. We’d trained him to sit there stoically through our pretend wedding ceremonies.

At the same time, Sam and I both say, “That poor dog!”

After getting our giggle boxes under control, Sam goes to her nightstand and pulls out a white linen envelope. She hands it to me, and I see my name printed in elegant black script.

I open and read the note.

My heart soars, and I start grinning from ear to ear.

Sam tackles me in a hug. “I’m so happy for you, bestie.” She turns to her mom. “Mama, does Daddy still have any of that moonshine? That might calm her down.”