“No, I will,” Mr. Wykowski said, waving his cane.
“Easy, boys.” Lucille looped an arm into each of theirs. “There are plenty of honest women to go around.”
Sawyer pointed to the door. He wasn’t the kind of guy people messed with. If he wanted the place empty, the place got empty, in a hurry. In less than two minutes, it was just Josh and Grace. Even Anna and Toby had gone outside to wait.
In the ensuing silence, Sawyer shook his head, muttered something to himself that sounded like “fucking Mayberry,” and gave Josh and Grace a nod. “I’ll be in the back.”
Then they were alone. Nerves danced in Grace’s belly.
“You okay?” Josh tilted her face up to his, searching her features as if he couldn’t get his fill.
She gave herself permission to do the same. She had no idea what her future held exactly, but for the first time in her life, that was okay. She’d found herself. Here, in this town.
With this man.
And that was enough. She’d found her own way, not because of what her job title was or how much money she pushed around, but because of who she was. On the inside. Which, as it turned out, had nothing to do with numbers at all. “I’m okay. Devon’s not pressing charges.”
Josh let out a breath and pushed the hair from her face, tracing a finger along her temple, tucking a strand behind her ear. “I missed you last night.”
Out of all the things that she’d expected him to say, that was just about last on the list. She pulled back to meet his gaze. “But after I left, you didn’t even call.”
“I thought you needed some space. My mistake,” he said quietly.
“No, it’s mine,” Grace said in a rush, the words needing to get out. “I’m sorry about what I said. It was too soon. I shouldn’t have—”
Josh cut her off with a kiss that made her toes curl. “Don’t be sorry,” he said when they broke apart. “I love you, Grace. I think I have since day one when you jumped into my life with both feet, giving me all you had just to help me out.”
She stared up at him, feeling the anxiety in her chest break free, giving way to hope and love. “You should know that it wasn’t all from the goodness of my heart. It was also for the goodness of my very sad bank account.”
His mouth curved. “Liar. You’d do just about anything to help anyone, even people who only a few months ago were perfect strangers.” And though he kept his eyes on hers, he gestured outside with a jerk of his chin, where everyone in town was straining their eardrums trying to catch their conversation.
They’re trying to see if you’re making an honest woman out of me,” she said.
“Working on it,” he said. “It’d help if you threw yourself at me in front of them.”
She laughed and did just that, flinging down her crutches and hitting him midchest. Her cast weighed her down a bit but he seemed to have no problem catching her. She wrapped herself around him like a monkey and buried her face against his throat, breathing him in. “You haven’t asked me if I’m taking the job.”
“It doesn’t matter.”
She lifted her head. “No…?”
“Either way, we’ll make it work.”
Her breath caught as her heart filled with so much love and hope she didn’t know if she could contain it all. “Yeah?”
Nope. Nope, she couldn’t contain it all, some of it spilled out in the form of a dopey smile. “You really wouldn’t mind dating a woman who lived far away?”
His gaze roamed her features hungrily. “Hell, Grace. I’d go to Australia to visit you. I don’t care about the job, or where you lay your head down at night, as long as your heart’s mine.”
Her heart melted. “I’m not taking the Seattle job, Josh.”
He closed his eyes. “So the offer was from Portland, then. All right, so we’ll get intimately familiar with frequent-flyer miles.”
She slid her fingers into his hair and waited until he opened his eyes and looked at her. “I didn’t take that job either.”
His eyes narrowed slightly. He was catching on. “Give me a hint,” he said.
“It involves shoe boxes.” She drew in a deep breath and said it out loud for the first time. “I’ve lived in quite a few places in my life, and none of them ever felt like home. Until Lucky Harbor. For the first time, I feel like I belong somewhere. Here. I’m going to stay and open a small bookkeeping firm. I might have to supplement the income at first with other jobs, but as it turns out, I like mixing it up. What do you think?”
His smile was a thousand watts. “I think it’s perfect. You’re perfect. You know how much I love you, right? You, just the way you are.”
He pulled her in tighter and buried his face in her hair, inhaling her in. “Forever,” he said, and as he lowered his head to kiss her, a wild cheer went up from the crowd outside the window.
One year later
Grace woke from a Maui sun-soaked snooze when a shadow blocked her rays. She opened her eyes and took in the sight of Josh in nothing but loose board shorts, slung so low on his hips as to be indecent. His big, built body was tanned and wet from his ocean swim. Very wet, and he had a wicked gleam in his gaze. “Don’t,” she warned him. “Don’t you dare—”
With a badass grin, he scooped her out of the oversized lounge chair on the private beach of their honeymoon house and up against his drenched body.
“—get me wet,” she finished weakly.
“Oh, I’m going to get you wet, Mrs. Scott. Very wet.” He nuzzled her for a moment, then dropped down onto the lounge, with her now on top of him. He made himself comfortable, his hands roaming freely over her body as he did. “Mmm. You smell like a coconut. You know I love coconuts.”
She did. She knew this firsthand…It’d been a lovely few days, and they had a few more left. They’d gotten married six months ago, but this had been their first opportunity for a getaway. Anna had come home on college break to watch Toby and Tank for them.
They’d made the most of their alone time, and Grace lay there on top of Josh in sated, contented quiet. Working their way down her sexual fantasy list had proven exhausting business, and they had yet to start on Josh’s, although sitting on him as she was, she could tell he was ready to get going.
Josh entwined his fingers with hers and drew them up to his mouth, kissing her palm, regarding her with a serious look on his face. “Promise me something.”
His free hand slid to her still-flat belly. At only three months pregnant, she wasn’t yet showing at all. “We skip the Star Wars DVDs with this one.”