Hello! Please remember this is not to be copied or posted for any reason and is the copyright property of Jill Shalvis. We hope you enjoy this bonus scene to the Heartbreaker Bay series. To understand this little tease, you should probably read at least Sweet Little Lies first.
Pru stared down at the diamond ring on her finger. It’d been there for a year, long enough that when she slid it off, like she did now, there was tan line on her finger. She ran the pad of her thumb over the whiter skin, thinking about her life before Finn and how it hadn’t really been much of a life at all.
And then he’d come into it and turned her black and white world into full Technicolor and changed everything.
For the better.
So why then was she so out of sorts? She nearly jumped out of her own body when he spoke from behind her.
“Should I be worried?” he asked.
She hadn’t heard him come home, hadn’t heard him enter their bedroom. Anxious to see him, she turned to face him. And as it had from the very beginning, just the sight of the six foot broad shouldered, dark eyed man drew her in and made her heart skip a beat. His eyes burned hot with an emotion she couldn’t identify. She licked her suddenly dry lips and whispered “You’re back.”
“I am.” Holding her gaze, Finn dropped his duffle bag to the floor of their place and stepped into her, putting his hands on her hips.
She ran hers up his chest and into his hair as she pressed her forehead to his, breathing him in, so happy to have him back. He and his brother Sean had taken a road trip and been gone two weeks.
It was an annual brother slash fishing thing, and she hadn’t minded.
But what she had minded was the timing. She’d picked a fight just before he’d left, and then he’d been gone, lost to her at some isolated lake in Idaho where he’d had no reception.
No connection to her at all.
“I missed you,” he said.
“Not as much as I missed you.” She drew a deep breath and then held it, unsure of how to start. She was surprised when, without another word, he wrapped his arms around her tight and pressed his face into her throat, inhaling deeply, like he needed her more than his next breath.
It wasn’t something he’d ever done before. No, that wasn’t quite true. He’d taken comfort from her, yes, but … not like this, not where he actively sought it out.
“Pru,” he whispered and lifted his head. He nuzzled into her, rubbing his scruffy jaw to hers, making a low, gruff sound that signified need and desire, and not just physical. When he finally kissed her, it was soft at first, inquisitive, letting her decide if she wanted this.
She’d never wanted anything more in her entire life, and she let him know by pressing closer, trying to wrap herself around him so she didn’t ever have to let go. It wasn’t until she pulled back to take off her sweater that he stopped her and met her gaze.
The honesty and lingering doubt in his eyes had Pru closing her eyes. “I wanted to tell you how sorry I was the minute you left,” she said quietly, “but I’m so annoyingly stubborn. By the time I realized that I couldn’t breathe again until I told you, you were already out of cell range.”
He didn’t say anything to this and her heart about stopped.
“I didn’t mean it,” she said. “What I said that day.”
“You said that you didn’t want to set a date for our wedding.” His voice was quiet steel but she couldn’t miss the hurt.
“I didn’t mean it like that,” she whispered.
“Then how did you mean it?”
“You know what the first thing people ask me when they see the ring on my finger? They want to know when we’re getting married.”
He gave her an almost smile. “I’d like to know the same.”
“I didn’t believe that.” She let out a long, shaky breath. “That’s why I picked the fight. I thought you wanted out.”
He looked stunned. “Why would you think that? I asked you to marry me.”
“Yes, but from that moment on, you never said anything more about what you wanted. You said it was up to me.”
He opened his mouth to speak but she didn’t give him the chance to. “Because Finn, I already insinuated myself into your life. I crowded you. I gave you no choice. I never picked a date because I didn’t want to risk losing you by pushing you for more than you wanted to give. I said I’d marry you because I love you and I want to spend my life with you. If you want to stay engaged forever, that’s good enough for me. The only thing I don’t want is to lose you.”
He stood there staring at her. When he didn’t speak, she started to turn away but he caught her.
“Babe.” His voice stopped her. “Wait.”
She lifted her gaze to his and felt staggered by all she saw in his eyes. Frustration. Bemusement. Affection.
So much love it stole her breath.
“I thought about you the whole two weeks I was gone,” he said, “every living minute, when I was freezing my ass off on that godforsaken lake at dawn trying to catch a fish for breakfast, when Sean wouldn’t stop singing Rhianna and I wanted to strangle him, when I tried to fall asleep at night but could only think of you and wonder what you were doing, if you were changing your mind—“
“I wasn’t.” She shook her head, her eyes burning with tears. “I wouldn’t.”
“Good. Because sometimes I let myself remember what my world was like before you came into it and I don’t want to go back to that. I need you in my life, Pru,” he said, voice low and strained.
“I’m in. I’m all the way in,” she breathed, tightening her grip on him. “I promise.”
“You’re my life, Pru. I need you with me, loving me. I didn’t realize how much until I couldn’t see you every day, touch you. With you, I’m less alone, and for the first time in my life I know what contentment feels like. You want me to set the date? Fine,” he said fiercely. “I pick yesterday.”
She choked out a laugh and he graced her with a smile that took her breath. She stepped into him and threw her arms around his neck, pulling his head down. “How about today instead?” she asked.
“That was my second choice,” he said and covered her mouth with his.