Braden turned around from the stove when she entered. “I didn’t expect you so early. I’d have picked you up from the airport.”


“I caught an earlier flight. Thought I’d surprise you.” She took in his half-naked form with appreciation. Wearing low rise jeans and no T-shirt, he looked good enough to eat. She raised her eyebrows at him. “I hope whatever you’re cooking doesn’t splatter.”


He chuckled and dropped the long wooden spoon into the pan before turning to catch her by the waist. “I’ve missed you,” he murmured before capturing her mouth in a delicious assault of kisses.


She wrapped her arms around his neck and leaned into him. When he started working the buttons of her blouse, she pulled her head back, immediately stilling his hands. “Will you hate me if I say I’d rather eat first?” As if on cue her stomach growled.


A sexy grin spread across his face. “I can’t argue with that.” He took a step back and turned toward the stove. “This should be ready soon but I didn’t set the table because I didn’t expect you.”


“Were you just going to eat out of the pan?” she asked as she grabbed two plates from one of the cabinets.


He shrugged without turning around. “What can I say, I’m a caveman.”


Shaking her head, she finished setting the cutlery and glasses. “How was your day?”


“Quiet. About time, too,” he murmured as he took the pan off the hot eye. “How about yours?”


“It was…interesting.” She’d made some serious changes at work but she wasn’t sure what his reaction would be. So far Braden hadn’t pressured her to move to Hudson Bay or even mentioned any deeper commitment. They’d exchanged keys, they saw each other practically every other weekend, they talked every night on the phone, and she knew with absolute certainty that he loved her. Still, the fact that she might be moving back was a big change. One she hoped was something he wanted as much as she did.


“Tell me about it.” He dished shrimp scampi onto their plates as she opened a bottle of white wine.


He already had a beer so after pouring herself a drink, she took a seat across from him. “Well, Charles wants me to take a six month assignment in Germany. He thinks I’m ready to go back into the field.”


His fork stopped midway to his mouth.


When he frowned, she continued. “So what do you think?”


Sighing, he put the fork down. “Truthfully, I think it sucks. I want you here. And not just on weekends. But, it’s your job—”


“I turned him down.” Her quiet statement sliced through the air.


His dark eyes widened. “You what?”


“I told him no. He wasn’t happy, but we came to an agreement. It’s going to be a trial run, but I’m no longer a field agent. Instead I’m going back to working as sort of a freelance analyst. A lot of our analysts live and work all over the country. Once every couple months I’ll fly in for meetings, but that’s it.”


“Starting when?”


“In about a week.” Her shoulders tensed as she waited for his reaction.


He let out a deep sigh. “Thank God!”


“You’re happy, right?”


“Of course I’m happy! It’s your job and no matter what you decide I’ll support you, but if I can have you in my bed every night, I’m taking that option.”


Relief erupted in her chest.


“What are you going to do about your apartment?” he asked.


“There’re only three months left on the lease but I found someone to take over.” The place had come furnished so she didn’t even have to worry about moving any big stuff.


“In that case, I’ve got something to ask you.” Braden’s deep voice had taken on a husky, sensuous quality.


She put her fork down. “Okay.”


Before she realized what he was doing, he’d knelt in front of her. Just as quickly he reached behind his back and pulled out a small blue box. When he popped the box open, she choked on air.


“What are you doing?” she whispered.


“I didn’t want to pressure you before, but…marry me, Lilly.” His words were strong and clear.


“That’s not a question.”


The corners of his mouth tugged up. “Okay, will you marry me?”


Her throat clogged with tears as she nodded. Reaching for him, she looped her arms around his neck and joined him on the floor.


“I take it that’s a yes,” he murmured against her neck.


“That’s definitely a yes.”


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