“I’m a woman, Ryder.”
“Believe me, I am well aware of that.” He lowered his head, brushed his beautiful mouth over hers. And fool that she was, she let him. She hated herself for it, but she was powerless to stop him. “I thought we covered this the other day. You’re beautiful to me, Jamison. The most beautiful person on earth.”
“Then why did you dump me like that? In the middle of Wyatt’s hospital room? Why did you let me feel like nothing?”
“No, baby, no. You’re not nothing. I am.” He pressed tender kisses on her forehead, her eyes, her cheeks, her mouth. “I’m the asshole who let all the baggage I carry around get twisted up in my head. I thought you’d be safe if I let you go. Thought you’d be better off.”
Her heart thawed out despite her best intentions. How could it not when he was looking at her like that, baring his soul to her in a way she knew he hated. “What about now?”
“Now, I’m just plain terrified that I fucked up what we could have. I love you, Jamison. I love everything I know about you, even the way you organize your damn recipes alphabetically. I want to spend the next fifty years learning everything there is to know about you, so that I can love you more every day.”
“Please,” he told her. “I know I should step back, give you time to think, to make an educated choice. But I can’t. Please, Jamison. Please say you’ll give me another chance.”
Oh God. Her heart was breaking all over again. He was saying everything she needed to hear, everything she’d wanted him to say for days, for years. But she didn’t know if it was real. Didn’t know if she could trust him or his feelings for her. How could she when he was Ryder Freaking Matthews and she was just the girl who’d loved him most of her life?
“I love you and I know you love me.” He paused. “Please. Tell me you love me.”
“It doesn’t make any difference.”
“It makes every difference. I never knew I could feel about anyone the way I feel about you. It’s so huge, so monumental, that it terrifies me. Because you see me. You see all the way inside of me to places nobody else even knows exist. And I can’t understand, can’t imagine, what someone like you could possibly see in someone like me.”
“That’s because you always see yourself all wrong.” She started crying all over again. “I wish, for one minute, you could see yourself the way that I see you. You’re like a shooting star, brilliant and dazzling and completely unattainable. You streak across the sky, traveling faster than the speed of light and then—”
“And then I burn myself out.”
“That’s not what I meant.”
“No, but that’s what’s going to happen if you leave me. We both know it. You think I’m so special—”
“You are special.”
“Not without you. Never without you.”
“Ryder. You’re asking me for everything.”
“I am.” He nodded. “Yes. But I’m offering you everything I have in return. Everything I am. Everything I’ll ever be.” He pressed a kiss to her forehead. Pressed another one to her cheek before sliding his lips down her cheek and across her jaw to her own mouth. He dropped soft, sweet kisses on her lips until her head spun and her breath caught in her throat. And then he did it again.
“Trust me,” he urged again. “I swear, I won’t let you down.”
She stared at him, dizzy and disturbed and terrified, so terrified of laying her heart on the line one more time. But as she stared at him, at his dark and dazzling eyes, at the soft and sexy smile that she knew he never showed to anyone else, she realized he was right . Loving him was very easy to do.
Reaching for him, she clutched his hands tightly in her own. “I love you,” she told him. “I’ve always loved you and I always will. I love the man you are, and the man I know you can be. I trust you, Ryder, and I want to build a life with you. I won’t lose sight of that again.”
“Thank God.” He dropped his head to hers, pulled in shuddering breath after shuddering breath. “Thank God.”
Jamison reached up, tangled her fingers in the silky hair she loved so much. “Take me back to the hotel,” she whispered as she pressed her lips to his. “We’ll kick Jared and Quinn out of my room. Or, better yet, just get a new one.”
“That’s a great plan, baby,” he said between kisses. “One I can whole-heartedly get behind. But we have a stop to make first.”
“A stop? Where?”
“I’ll explain on the way.” He dragged her around the corner to where a limousine was waiting. He held the door open for her and as he did, he smiled and once again it took her breath away. Because it wasn’t his stage smile, wasn’t the smile he gave a million different people. No, this was Ryder at his most open, most vulnerable. It weakened her knees and sped up her heart. This time it did more than that. It made her believe in happily ever after, not just for other people, but for herself. For Ryder. She couldn’t wait to see that smile every day for the rest of her life.
Because finally she believed. She wasn’t the perfect rocker’s wife—not by a long shot. But that was just fine, because Ryder was a far cry from being the perfect rocker. It was only together that they were perfect. And that was more than enough for her.