A quick glance at the clock in the corner of my computer screen showed that if I didn’t get moving, I was going to be late.
It had been six months since Beau and I were officially together, and he’d informed me earlier that morning that he had a special evening planned for us to celebrate.
It had been a whirlwind six months, for sure.
Our relationship might have changed—all for the better—over the past several months, but the man still had a gift for pushing my buttons and didn’t hesitate to do so every chance he had. As always, I gave as good as I got. Sure, we loved each other like crazy, but we still fought as much as we always had, that was just who we were. Only now, instead of ending with me hating him and him pouting like a giant baby, we ended each spat with a rather acrobatic round of sex that always left us both breathless and smiling.
Despite the silly little arguments, I’d laughed more with Beau over these past several months than I had in longer than I could remember. We might still argue and rile each other up, but the good always outweighed everything else. I couldn’t remember a time when I’d been happier, and it was all because of Beau. For all the negative in our past, I couldn’t imagine my life without him in it. He was my future, my everything. He made each day better than the last.
And not only for me, but for my parents as well.
Because of Beau, my parents’ house was in better shape than it had been in years. The dishwasher from hell was gone, along with all the other dated appliances, all replaced with new, top-of-the-line everything. Not only that, but they were finally enjoying retired life. They were officially living the dream and happier than ever.
Mom had taken up knitting, something she’d always wanted to learn but never had the time. Now I had a closet full of scarves because that was all she’d been able to make so far. Thanks to not having to work himself to the bone day in and day out, the chronic pain my dad had been living with had gotten substantially better. That drawn expression he always wore when he was trying to hide his pain was gone, as was the slope in his shoulders. Seeing him standing tall and proud was nearly enough to send me bursting into tears every time.
My parents had worked for so long, living paycheck to paycheck, that it had taken some time for them to get used to the fact that Beau wanted to do everything he could to take care of them. My mother nurtured those she loved with food. Beau’s way was to take care of them with money. He was big on spoiling those he loved, something I’d come to learn personally.
He’d explained that, thanks to his professional football career, he had more money than he would ever be able to spend in one lifetime, so if my folks didn’t let him spend it on them, it would just sit in the bank.
Finally, they’d relented and started accepting his gifts and generosity. It was so fun watching them enjoy getting everything they deserved, and seeing how happy it made Beau to take care of them only made me love him that much more.
I saved the spreadsheet I’d been working on and reached out to turn off the computer, grabbing my purse just as Donovan knocked his knuckles against the doorframe of my office. “Hey, got a minute?”
I pushed out of my chair, grinning at my new bar manager. “Hey, Don. Just barely. Beau will kill me if I’m late for whatever he has planned, so you better talk while we walk.” I started toward the back exit when he spoke, drawing me up short.
“Yeah, about that. We’ve got a situation out here. I think it would be best if you were the one to handle it.”
Shit. My head whipped around, my brows caving into a frown. “Seriously? It’s not something you can handle?”
Donovan pulled his face into a wince, lifting a shoulder in a silent shrug. “Sorry, boss.”
My head fell back on a groan. Beau was never going to let me hear the end of this. “Fine,” I relented on a pout, turning on my heel and following him toward the front of the bar. “But so help me, if this takes longer than five minutes, I’m throwing you right under the bus.” I shoved my finger in his face. “You’ll have to deal with Beau.”
Ready to rip into whoever was causing the scene in my bar that was going to make me late for my special night with Beau, I stomped down the hall behind Donovan as I thought over what I was going to say, how exactly I was going to rip into the person. Only, instead of getting the chance to do that, I jerked to a stop right after rounding the corner, my lips parting on a shocked exhale.
The bar was totally empty. Half the can lights overhead had been shut off, and strings of twinkle lights had been twisted around the pillars and across some of the overhead beams. Candles lined the bar and some of the empty tables, the tiny flames casting shadows around the dimly lit bar and creating a romantic atmosphere.
And there in the middle of everything stood Beau.
I hadn’t understood why he requested I wear the red dress I’d worn to our high school reunion all those months ago until I noticed he was dressed in the same suit he’d worn that night, and man, he still looked amazing in it.
My belly fluttered at the sight of him. Warmth bloomed in my chest and spread throughout my insides until it took up every bit of available space. A beaming smile split my face in half as my man grinned at me, his hands tucked casually in the pockets of his slacks.
“Hi,” I said as I moved toward him.
His eyes did a full sweep of my body, that crystal clear blue darkening as a slight blush rose on the apples of his cheeks. “God, you look so beautiful.”
I wasn’t sure I was ever going to stop swooning over my man, and I was really okay with that. “Thank you. You look pretty amazing yourself.”
He chuckled, running his hand down the front of his button-down. “Oh, this old thing?”
I laughed just as his arm shot out, wrapping around my waist as soon as I was within reach. He pulled me flush against him and lowered his mouth to mine. In the months we’d been together, he’d kissed me a million different ways: passionately, hungrily, softly, tenderly, like he couldn’t possibly get close enough. But there was something different about this one. Something . . . more.
My heart flip-flopped in my chest as I blinked my eyes open once he finally pulled away. “Wow. That was some kiss.” I rested my palms against his chest. “What’s going on? Where is everybody?”
Beau’s hands came down to my hips, his fingertips pressing in deeply as he pulled me even tighter against him, like he couldn’t get close enough. “What’s going on is that this is our anniversary celebration. And I kindly asked everyone to clear out so I could do something special for you.”
I let out a bubble of laughter. “And they just agreed?”
He arched a brow, one corner of his mouth curling up into an arrogant smirk that only increased his hotness. Not that I’d ever tell him that. His ego was big enough, after all. “What can I say? Most people find me charming.”
A giggle passed my lips. “Hey, I find you charming. It just took about twenty years for me to get there.”
His chest rose on an inhale as he lowered his forehead to mine. “Worth the wait,” he whispered, those three words jam-packed with so much meaning it made my skin prickle with goosebumps.
“Bubbles, I have loved you since I was twelve years old. Getting to see you day after day for all those years but not getting to have you was torture.” The breath stalled in my lungs as the backs of my eyes began to burn. “These past six months have been the best months of my life, and that’s all because of you. You are my happiness, baby. My sunshine. So I have to ask you—”
I sucked in a sharp gasp when he pulled back and lowered to one knee in front of me, right there in the middle of my bar. “Beau,” I said on a breath as my eyes flooded, a single tear breaking free and spilling down my cheek.
“Will you keep that happiness going and marry me? Because now that I know what it feels like to have you I can’t go back. It’s you, Presley. Only you.”
I dropped down to my knees on a stuttered sob, a smile stretching across my face so big my cheeks ached. But I didn’t care. “Yes!” I cried, taking his face in my hands and peppering it with kisses. “Yes. I want to marry you. I love you, Beau.”
He let out a whoop of excitement, his long, strong arm banding around my waist as he shot to his feet, taking me with him. I laughed loudly as he held me off the ground and spun in a circle.
“She said yes,” he practically yelled, then to my delight and surprise, the doors in the front and the back burst open and people came rushing into the bar. My parents, Beau’s mom, all our friends, my staff, practically the whole damn town poured into the bar, cheering and clapping.
My gaze darted around wildly. “What’s happening?”
Those blue eyes were shining so brightly as he smiled at me, pure, unfiltered happiness radiating from every pore. He shrugged, placing me on my feet and planting a kiss on my lips that made me swoon. “I told our family and friends so they could be here to celebrate with us. Sorry about all the rest. I guess that small town grapevine was put to work.”
“I don’t care.” I shook my head, unable to wipe the smile off my face. “It’s perfect. I love that they’re all here. And I love you.” A rush of excited giggles burst from deep in my chest. “We’re getting married!”
There was a small part of me that still couldn’t believe it. This man in front of me had spent years tormenting me, pushing my buttons on purpose just to get a rise out of me. For most of my life, I’d been convinced that I hated him. Now he was going to be my husband.
And I couldn’t imagine wanting to spend the rest of my life with anyone else.