“Yeah? Anyway, I wanted to give you something tangible, so I brought you a bag of tokens from the pizza place in Moorcroft where we had our first date.”
“As a token of your affection?”
“Pretty pun-tastic, huh?” She gave him a small head butt. “See?
I knew you’d get it. You know me so well, Colt. Better than anyone ever has.”
“Same goes. So you have to know my meeting with Ginger Paulson—”
India put her fingers over his lips. “You don’t have to explain. I was a jerk. I trust you. Period.”
He nipped her fingertips. “I’m gonna tell you anyway. Her son Hayden is Buck’s little buddy. Hayden wanted to do something special for Buck, and Ginger thought I could give them some ideas.”
“Yep. So now—”
“Now you need to listen,” India blurted. “First, I’m sorry. For not defending you, for acting like a lump of shit when Cat spewed all those horrible things about you. I lashed out at you when I should’ve lashed out at her. It’ll never happen again and I’ll beat the living shit out of anyone who casts doubts on your character.”
“Including my mother?”
India snorted. “She’s not afraid to come out swinging, that’s for damn sure. But then again, neither am I. It surprised her that I’d fight for you.”
“That’s a little extreme, but apology accepted.”
“Second, it was a cheap shot, questioning your commitment to sobriety after our fight. I should be your safe harbor, not the crashing waves dragging you down.” India fiddled with the button on his shirt. “I’m the one who had doubts about whether I could hold it together after you left. I, ah, had to call Bert.”
“Ah Indy.” He rested his forehead to hers. “You okay?”
“Now? Yeah. Then? No. I was a mess. I needed help. I wasn’t too proud to ask for it. That…feeling had been building for a while and I ignored it. So the near relapse reminded me I’d gotten cocky. I thought I had addiction whupped, but I don’t. I never will.”
Colt knew no matter what his dad thought about Colt being strong enough to fight his addictions on his own, he never would’ve made it this far if it hadn’t been for India. And he was good with that.
“Lastly, the reason I asked for space was because it freaked me out when I realized we had unprotected sex more than once at my most fertile time. Making that chart gave me a plan of attack so I was fully prepared for if we dodged the baby bullet.”
“What about the marks for the following month?”
“The Xs for the next month were so I’d know when I went on the pill, which days we’d have to use condoms until the pill was at full effect.”
Now that Colt thought about it…the charts shouldn’t have surprised him. That was exactly what India always did, planned for every contingency. “You want to go on the pill? Why?”
“I like sex without a condom. Which is the whole big ‘oops’ issue we have to deal with now, because we didn’t use a condom, like three times, so I might already be pregnant.” She searched his eyes. “You know I didn’t do it on purpose, right? I’d never take that choice away from you.”
“I know. And it wasn’t just you, Indy, it was both of us throwing caution into the wind. If you’re pregnant, you’re pregnant.
It wouldn’t be a big oops in my mind anyway.”
“Your sister has little kids; my brothers have little kids. It’d be a great opportunity for them to grow up around family.”
“That’s your reasoning? We should have a baby so our kid will have cousins?”
“No. That ain’t the reason.” Colt cupped her face in his hands.
“The reason is…I love you, India. I’ve loved you almost from the first moment I met you.”
“Yes. I didn’t fall for you because you were my sponsor and my lifeline to sobriety. I fell for you because you’re you. You’re everything to me. You have been for years.”
“Omigod. Colt. Why didn’t you tell me? We wasted so much time—”
“No. The last thing our time together was, was wasted. Don’t you think there was a reason we didn’t date other people after we met? Because we were already a couple. Platonic? Yes. But that don’t make the years we spent together any less real or any less meaningful. In fact, I think it makes them more real because we know each other. Straight down to the bone.”
She didn’t attempt to hide her tears.
“Indy, you’re my best friend. I love you. I’m in love with you. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. This is the real deal, sugar. I’m asking you to be my wife.”
“Yes. God yes. A million times yes. Colton West McKay, I love you so much.” India kissed him. So sweetly. So perfectly. With so much love and unbridled emotion he felt tears springing to his eyes for the second time in a day.
“Let’s go inside.” He set her on her feet and stood. Inside the house he spun her around.
She placed her hand on his chest. “What’s wrong? You’re so serious.”
“You’ve shown you trust me in everything you do, and everything you are to me. It’s time for me to do the same.”
“You’re scaring me a little.” India reached up and cupped his face in her hands. “Talk to me. What’s going on in that head of yours?”
Breathe. You can do this.
“Know that trust exercise you’ve been after me to do?”
She never looked away from him. “You’re sure?”
Without another word, India led him into an open area in the living room and she stood behind him.
“Cross your arms over your chest. Close your eyes. When you’re ready, fall back. Straight back.”
“No, you have to trust me. I’ll catch you. I promise. Even if you fall, I’ll pick you up.”
For the first time in his life, Colt didn’t have a moment’s hesitation about who to trust.
He closed his eyes and let go.