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|Echoes of Scotland Street(On Dublin Street #5)(74) by Samantha Young|
“I don’t know how to say it without sounding like a cheesy idiot.”
“I just proposed to you without a ring or an actual plan in front of your whole family. There’s no judgment here.”
He laughed, his breath puffing against my neck. “True.” He kissed me again. “When you turned around, it was like you’d . . . I don’t know, like, you’d been conjured from air or something just for me. I can’t explain it. I just knew that you were meant for me,” he confessed. “To me it was like you were there to make up for all the bad stuff that had come before you. But then just like that you went away and I guess I believed that made more sense than anything good ever could. At the time anyway. I grew up and grew out of that broody shit.” He gave me a squeeze and I wondered if he could hear how hard and fast my heart was pumping in my chest.
“And then you walked back into my life and I wanted you. Because I felt drawn to you still. It was, and is, powerful, Shannon. I’ve never felt like that with any woman.
“Jo, Hannah, Liv, all of them are special to me and I’ve always had reasons to trust them. But you . . . Someone tried to break you, take you away from yourself, and in a way take you away from me. I guess I’ve just been waiting for you to stop trusting me because it doesn’t seem possible that I get to keep this dream.” He leaned over and I turned my head to meet his gaze, feeling so much more for this man than I’d known it was possible to feel. “I’m sorry if I let you down lately.”
“No.” The tears came and I let them fall. “Cole, you could never let me down. Do you know what it means to me that you see me that way? Don’t you get it? You’re the most beautiful man I’ve ever met—you’re kind and smart, loyal and compassionate, and strong and talented and brave and forgiving. You’re everything I ever wanted from life, and that you feel the same way back . . . All my life I’ve been scared and I never knew why.” I smiled through my tears. “I’m not scared anymore.”
He crushed my lips beneath his, his groans of joy surrounding me like everything else about him.
Once he was finished showing his appreciation for my words, my confession, I settled back, clasping his arm tight to my breasts, and I promised him, “I meant what I said. I’ll never choose anyone over you. My family should care enough not to put me in that position. I’m going to see them next week and that’s exactly what I’m going to tell them.”
I felt Cole’s hesitation and he didn’t even have to say what he was thinking. I just knew.
“Don’t worry. This is what I want. Logan wants this for me too. The contention between me and my family doesn’t need to affect my relationship with my brother.” I relaxed deeper against my pillow. “Cole . . . they’ve never given me what you’ve given me. Not once. You’re worth it.” I smiled into the dark of our bedroom. “You’re worth every bad thing that’s ever happened to me, because going through them led me to you.”
“Shannon.” He pulled me closer, his voice gruff, thick with emotion.
I decided to stop there. Cole finally got it.
I wasn’t going anywhere.
Why would I when I had the best seat in the house?
* * *
“I guess this means I need to start being nice to you again?” Rae wrinkled her nose.
Cole and I had just been ambushed. We broke the news of our engagement to Rae and Simon that morning before clients started appearing, and it had been received with enthusiastic congratulations, followed by whispering and secretive, mischievous glances.
Their behavior started to make sense ten minutes after our last client left and the bell over the door rang. In walked Stu, followed by Tony. Rae and Simon had called to tell them about our news. Stu set off party poppers around us. I got bear hugs from all the guys and finally a tentative embrace from Rae.
“Being nice would be appreciated. If you can manage it.”
“I can try.”
I sighed and offered her a small smile. “Look, I understand you were just being loyal to Cole.”
“Don’t.” She held up a hand to stop me. “I fucked up, Shannon. I stuck my nose in your business and I made it worse. I’m sorry.”
I raised an eyebrow but decided not to tease her for admitting she was wrong. “It’s in the past. It all worked out, right?”
“Yeah.” She smirked and shot a look at Cole. “Although you did kind of steal his moment proposing to him. He’s the most bloody romantic guy I know, and he didn’t get to propose to his girlfriend.”
I bit my lip, staring at him as he laughed at something Stu said. “Do you think he minds?”
“I think he gets to marry you . . . so no. I don’t think he minds.”
* * *
A couple of hours later we were joined by the twins and Karen, Mike, and a few of Tony and Rae’s friends. People brought beer, food, and champagne, turning the get-together into a full-blown engagement party.
A little tipsy on champagne and wanting the whole world to be as happy as I was, I found myself sidling up to Simon, who was standing brooding in the corner of the studio with a beer in hand. He smiled at my approach. I slid an arm around him and cuddled into his side.
“Are you okay, friend?”
Simon looked down at me. I’d been a little too preoccupied lately with my own stuff to notice the weariness in his eyes. “I will be.”
“The baby thing?”
“Shannon, this is your engagement party. Let’s not talk about it.”
“I want to. I want my friend to be happy.”
He smiled and bent his head to press a kiss to my forehead. “I’m okay.”
Realizing I wasn’t going to stop pestering him until he gave me something, Simon replied, “He loves me. He’s not leaving me.”
“I sense a but.”
“I just don’t want him to end up resenting me.”
“Do you never want to have kids?”
He shrugged. “I don’t know. I just know I don’t right now.”
“That’s why he’s staying.” I squeezed his arm and pulled away. “Who knows what you’ll want in the future? No one ever does. Tony doesn’t want to walk away from you on a maybe. He loves you, Simon. And you love him. So stop brooding about the future and just enjoy what you have right now.”