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Emily’s piece of shit pulling into the driveway.

He was sitting up and straightening his glasses as Emily parked. The car was bug-ridden and covered in dust. She tumbled out, not looking much better. She had a left-side-only sunburn. Her hair looked like she’d stuck her finger in an electrical outlet, and he wasn’t sure what the mysterious stains were on her clothes. Not to mention she smelled like the inside of a 7-Eleven, but she’d never been more beautiful to him. Five cans of Red Bull fell to the sidewalk before she shut the door.

Zoe gasped at the sight of her. “Were you mugged?”

Emily stopped short and looked down at herself. “Despite what it looks like, no.”

Darcy grinned. “It’s called two days of driving.”

“Yeah. And I didn’t have the route mapped so I nearly ended up in Canada by accident when I was practicing what I was going to say instead of concentrating on the drive.”

“A speech!” Darcy said, and kicked Wyatt again. “She has a speech! Let’s hear it!”

Wyatt gave her a long look and gestured with his chin to the house.

“Oh no,” she said. “You’ve been brooding for days, you’re not going to make us leave now.”

“You’ve been brooding?” Emily asked him softly.

“Zoe,” Wyatt said.

“Yeah, on it.” Zoe grabbed Darcy and pulled her up. “We’re going to give them privacy. I realize you don’t know the meaning of the word, but—”

“Fine! Just hang on one second.” Darcy pointed at Emily. “I know he screwed up, but he is screwed up. Don’t you screw him up even worse, got me?”

Jesus. Wyatt opened the front door and shoved both his sisters inside before slamming the door. He turned back to Emily, heart pounding uncomfortably hard. “Hey.”

She came close. “Hey,” she whispered back.

He had to touch—had to—and yanked her into him. “God, you’re a sight for sore eyes.”

“You should probably know that I’m punch-drunk tired,” she said muffled into his chest, her hands fisted at the back of his shirt. “Which isn’t the same as being plain out drunk, of course.” She shoved free and gave him a long look. “Because if it was, I’d be writing what I want to say to you on a friggin’ bar napkin!”

“Is that why you’re yelling at me?” he asked.

“No, I’m yelling because I’ve had five Red Bulls!” She stopped, drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly. “I’m yelling because you were careful to keep your feelings to yourself. I had to guess, Wyatt. Hell, I’m still guessing.”

He opened his mouth, but she poked him hard in the chest with a finger. “You showed me with your body, and okay, you showed me with your actions all damn day long, every day, but you were stingy with the words. And I needed the words!”

“I know,” he said. “I—”

“Who leaves a note under the driver’s seat? Tell me that. Who does that?”

“It didn’t start out beneath your seat,” he said. “I set it against the gearshift. It must have slipped to the floor.”

“I repeat,” she said. “Who leaves a note”—she pulled it from her pocket and waved it under his nose—“telling a woman he wants her to stay?”

“Yeah, okay, it was a really stupid idea,” he admitted. “But it made perfect sense to a drunk man.”

“Oh good,” she said, nodding. “You were drunk. I was afraid you’d paid a third grader to write it for you.” She went hands on hips. “Let me make sure I have this straight. When I was here, falling for you, hard, you didn’t say a word. When I was here, thinking that I’d finally found the first something really good in my life—” Her voice broke, which sliced at his heart as she poked him again, in case he hadn’t figured out that it was him that was the something good in her life.

He caught her hand and pulled her in again, holding tight. “Emily,” he said softly.

“Did you know?” she asked. “Did you know how I felt?”

“I knew you cared for me. I knew you wanted to be with me.”

When she tried to pull away, he held her still and met her stormy gaze. “I didn’t want to crowd you. I didn’t want to make a decision for you, or worse, dictate your plans. My hope had been that if you wanted more, you’d say so.”

“I wanted you to ask,” she said softly. “Or better yet, tell me. I wanted to hear you say it.”

“I know,” he said with real regret. “I want to make that up to you. What I don’t want is to lose you.” He tightened his grip on her, and when she did the same, he felt the knot in his chest loosen. He sank a hand into her very tangled hair and tipped her head up to his. “I missed you,” he said against her mouth. “So f**king much.”

“Yeah? So much that you were just sitting on the grass having a little chat with your sisters?” she asked.

“It was more of an intervention, and if you looked inside my truck right now, you’d see my duffle bag. I was coming to you in the morning.”

She went still. “You were?”

“Yeah.” Don’t f**k this up . . . “I had things I should’ve said before you left.”


“Like he was scarred by being dragged all over the world without getting a say or having any choice in the matter,” Darcy yelled from the living room window. “Only he’s a stupid guy and can’t seem to say it out loud.”

Wyatt turned and gave Darcy a look that had her squeaking and slamming the window shut.

Sorry, Zoe mouthed through the glass.

Hell if she was. He turned back to Emily. “Have I ever told you that I like your sister better than either of mine?”

She laughed softly. “I love your family, Wyatt.”

“Because they’re entertainment?”

“Because they love you. And I should’ve figured out for myself what you were doing. Or rather, what you weren’t doing. I should’ve understood that it wasn’t because you didn’t have feelings for me, but that you had so many. I know, because I had just as many for you.”

He let out a breath and tightened his grip on her, burying his face in her hair. He paused, lifted his face and pulled a leaf from her silky strands. Her matted silky strands.

“It got really windy over the pass,” she said defensively and lifted her hand to her hair.

He caught it, then her other hand as well, his own encircling her wrists. His fingers laced with hers and he brought them up to his lips, kissing each palm before looking down into her face. “I was coming to you to say I wanted you back in Sunshine. That I think we have something, something different than I’ve ever had before.” His lips brushed hers. “I want you back because I love you, Emily. So goddamn much.”

“Oh,” she breathed softly, her eyes luminous. “That would’ve been worth the trip.”

He smiled. “I know you have a plan, but if you think it can tolerate some deviance, then I’d be happy if you deviated in my direction.”

She bit her lower lip. “What kind of deviation are we talking about?”

He laughed, and she closed her eyes. “Oh God, how I missed that, Wyatt. Hearing you laugh. I gave up my calendar. Thought I’d try winging it for a while.”

He tightened his grip on her.

“And that,” she breathed, snuggling in. “I missed that, too, feeling your arms around me. And your voice. And the way you make me feel.” She opened her eyes. “I love you, too, Wyatt.” And she graced him with a smile that made her seem as if she was lit from within, and took his very breath away.

“Stay,” he said again. Not asking. Hell, no. He wanted to be perfectly clear on things this time. “Stay, Emily. Tonight. Tomorrow. Forever. Just stay with me.”

Her smile widened and her eyes shone brilliantly with unshed tears. “I wasn’t sure where my home would end up being,” she admitted.

“You found it, sweetness. Me. I’ll be your home. Seems only fitting, since you’re mine.”