Everyone laughs. Brian beams back at the crowd.
“So, it’s with absolute pleasure that I get to spring another surprise on you. I’d like everyone to welcome back to the team Vale Campbell…”
Brian goes on to say something else, about her accepting a new job offer with the team, yada, yada, yada, but my head is turning left and right, trying to find her. He did say Vale Campbell, right?
My heart feels like it’s about to jump out of my chest as I realize people are staring at me as I vainly scan the crowded room.
But then a small tap comes to my shoulder from behind me, and I whip around in a frenzy of excited expectation.
And there she is.
Gorgeously beautiful, a mischievous smile on her face. I vaguely notice her dad standing behind her.
“Hey, lover,” she says as she cocks her head at me. A few people clap me on my back, voices raise in congratulations, and then the din sort of melts away as I’m staring at her in disbelief.
“You’re coming back to work for the Cold Fury?” I ask, still stunned to see her standing here before me.
She steps toward me, places her hands at my hips. Smiling up at me with sparkling eyes, she chuckles. “Gray Brannon presented me with an offer I couldn’t refuse.”
“A big raise?” I guess.
She shakes her head. “Nope. Same salary, but merely the opportunity to be with you.”
“Sounds like a good deal,” I admit with a smirk as my arms wrap around her. I pull her in, squeeze the breath out of her, and then just hold her tight. My eyes slide over her head to see Dave smiling at us, and then turn toward Brian, who hands him a glass of champagne.
“When did you decide this?” I ask her, my heart now starting a steady beat of jubilation.
“A few days ago. Figured I’d surprise you.”
“You’re rotten,” I chastise. “You could have been here this entire time.”
“And ruin this surprise?” she asks as she pulls back and looks at me with mock offense.
Sliding one hand to the back of her neck, I reel her in for a kiss. It’s instantly deep and slightly arousing, and I want to grab a cab right this minute and hightail it back to my house. My Christmas dreams will come fully true once I can sink down deep inside of her. It’s been forever since we’ve made love, that one night in Sydney ten days ago having been spent chastely holding her all night in her bed, because…well, no sex with Dave in the house.
“I’m moving in with you,” she says abruptly the minute my lips pull free from hers.
Well, duh…of course she’s moving in with me. I give her a gracious smile.
“And I’ll take up all of your closet space, just so you know,” she adds.
Sounds fucking fantastic to me.
“And I’ll probably bitch at you to keep your dirty clothes off the floor. Just in case you were wondering, that hasn’t changed about me.”
I laugh, give her another quick kiss, and say, “Well, just as long as you know I haven’t changed either. I still throw my clothes on the floor.”
“We’re a match made in heaven,” she quips.
“So much so that if you’re going to move in with me, take up my closet space, and bitch at me like a nagging wife, we might as well go ahead and get married.”
She blinks at me in surprise, the playful smile sliding off her face. “Is that a proposal?”
“Not a very good one I’m thinking,” I say as I realize that was probably about as unromantic as you could be. “Perhaps I should have said—”
“I accept,” she says quickly, beaming a new, refreshed, and bigger smile at me.
“You do?” I ask, stunned.
“Well, yeah,” she says as her hands come to my face. She strokes my beard and gives me a tiny pat. “I mean, how could I say no…when it gives me full permission to be the nagging wife?”
And it hits me all of a sudden.
She said yes.
She’s going to marry me.
Be mine forever.
My hands shoot to her face, and I pull her in quickly for a hard kiss. I’m sealing the deal. She’s laughing when I release her but I pay no mind. I call out over the noise of the crowd, and finally put my fingers in my mouth to whistle sharply. The room goes silent, and when I have everyone’s attention, I call out with the biggest fucking grin on my face, “Hey everyone…I’ve got an announcement to make.”