“You remembered,” she said, pulling away to look at his eyes.

“Of course,” he said, leaning in to kiss her again so softly and sweetly it actually choked her up. “How could I forget?” he whispered against her lips. “Kissing you has always done the craziest things to me. I don’t know.” He shook his head. “But that first day. It was like I was already thinking it that whole time, from the moment I met you. I was dying to kiss you. Then when I finally did, it only confirmed it. I knew there was something amazingly exceptional about you. About the way you made me feel. I thought maybe after some time it’d go away, fade a little. But it never has.”

Valerie took a deep breath, letting it out slowly as she stared deeply into those intense eyes of his. It felt so perfect being there with him it almost scared her. All those years she’d held back from allowing herself to expect more from him out fear of getting hurt, and now there was no way she could.

Her father had told her on more than one occasion how her mother had been the love of his life. He’d known it from the moment he first met her, and Alex was undoubtedly hers. She just wasn’t brave enough to tell him that just yet. It was too soon to ruin this amazing change. But there was something she could tell him.

“I know exactly what you mean,” she said, holding his face in both of her hands. “I felt it that day too and didn’t understand it either. I thought maybe I was nuts.” She laughed nervously. “Or being overly dramatic—romantic or something.”

“No.” He shook his head immediately. “It’s not nuts.”

“And it’s never gone away for me either,” she said, resting her forehead against his.

She kissed him again, deeper, longer this time. Her heart nearly pounded out of her chest, she was so overwhelmed with joy. She just wished that she could drown out the paralyzing fear. She hated that this felt like such a risk putting her feelings out there for him as she never had before. But at the same time it felt so right. She wanted to just enjoy it without the feelings of doubt.

Stopping to stare him straight in those dark intense eyes, she smiled, taking a deep breath. To hell with the fear. For once she was just going to allow herself to be happy—to expect more from Alex Moreno. He’d promised, right? “Let’s go find that wall,” she said, smiling big and biting her lower lip.

“I was thinking the exact same thing.”

Valerie laughed. “I thought I’d have to explain. You know which wall I mean?”

“Hell yeah,” he said, letting her down, and tugged her hand. “I didn’t want to admit it back then even to myself. But I think that day when I kissed you for the first time on that wall, I knew right then I was nuts about you.”

Her heart had been doing so much swelling over in the past twenty-four hours she wondered how much more it could take. But without another doubt, without any more fear, she leaned into him as he wrapped his arm around her and decided once and for all she was putting her heart out there, regardless of the risk. She looked up at him and smiled, big and unabashed. “Sal’s right.”

“About what?” he asked, surprising her that he didn’t immediately get it.

“We are so much alike,” she said, tilting her head. “I think I knew I was nuts about you that day too.”

“Kind of scary,” he said, pulling her closer as they continued walking.

Yeah, very scary. She wouldn’t ruin the moment—the day—this magical evening by saying it out loud. The two of them being so much alike could be a good thing. But it could also be a bad thing. They were both equally obstinate. Just as she’d made up her mind about really making an effort to make this work with as minimal drama as possible, she’d also made another decision. The last indiscretion she’d forgiven him for was just that.

The very last.

If he ever did anything to hurt her again, she’d be putting her heart out of its misery and ending things for good. There’d be no more forgiving. Her heart ached just thinking about it. She could only pray now that she hadn’t taken one chance too many with Alex. In the past, the things he did drove her crazy—made her livid—but things were different now. After just one full day of this change, anything from here on would feel like an ultimate betrayal.

Chapter 8


“It just feels weird,” Valerie said, crinkling her nose.

“Role playing?” Alex asked, taking a swig of his coffee, then smirked as he put the cup down. “Why? We’ve done it in bed before.”

Valerie gasped, swatting his arm across the table and looking around. “Shh!” She giggled as one of the busboys passed their table.

“What?” Alex laughed.

It wasn’t often he embarrassed Valerie, so it was highly entertaining when he did.

She pressed her lips together and raised one eyebrow. “Someone might hear you, Alex.”

“It’s just your sales pitch,” he said, wide-eyed, feigning ignorance about what she was really referring to.

Giving him that look again, she gave up on trying to scold him. “Yes, but with you it’s different. I know I’ll laugh.”

“No, you won’t,” he said, making the most serious face he could. “I’ll be a grumpy client. Try me.”

She was already laughing, and that only made him laugh as his phone vibrated on the table. Valerie’s smiling mood waned a bit, watching him send the call to voice mail—again. He should’ve just left the f**king thing in the back office until she left. It’d been less than a week since his big promise to change, so her rule about not taking calls that might “kill the mood” in front of her still stood. But this alone was beginning to feel as if it just might kill the mood because she hadn’t asked about the first call he sent and now she was picking at her food with that telling little lift of her brow.