“You and Ashlyn go dress shopping while Jax and I go get our tuxes, and we will meet you across the street at five,” he says, and the hive of honeybees that is always in my stomach when he’s around starts to move even more rapidly.
“This is crazy,” I whisper, looking at the small white chapel.
“This is perfect.” His arms around my waist give me a squeeze. “What does it matter if we do it now or in a few months?”
“Um…my parents. Your parents,” I remind him.
“They will be fine, and we can plan a party.”
“You’re really serious about this aren’t you?”
“One-hundred percent serious.”
“Okay, well then, let’s do this.” I smile, my belly flipping over.
“I thought I was going to have to try harder to convince you.” I feel his body relax behind me, but his arms squeeze me a little more tightly.
“You’re going to be the one to break the news to my parents,” I tell him, not looking forward to that conversation.
“Works for me. Your dad loves me; he’ll be cool,” he says, sounding so sure that I can’t help but to laugh.
“How did you win him over?” I ask. My dad really does love Cash. I know that if my dad had his way, we would be moving to Alaska, and Cash would be working with my dad on his boat and guiding people when they weren’t out fishing. I was even surprised that Austin gave Cash his seal of approval. They had gotten close after Dad had taken Cash and Austin out on a hunting trip. I guess they all bonded while killing poor defenseless creatures.
“I didn’t have to win him over.” He runs his nose along my ear before kissing me underneath it. “I love his daughter; that’s all he needed,” he says, his warm breath causing goose bumps to break out over my skin.
“That may have helped, but you did win him over,” I tell him softly. I don’t know how someone who is so strong can have doubt himself so often. “You’re a good man and an amazing father. A great friend, a goo—”
“What?” I turn my head to look at him.
“Stop talking, Lil,” he says, and I can see so many emotions on his face that it makes it hard to breath.
“It’s all true, Cash,” I say lightly. His mouth goes into a flat line, and his eyes close.
“It is, and all of those are the reasons why I’m going to take Ashlyn, go and pick out dresses for us, meet you across the street in a few hours, and tie myself to you in a way that makes it hard for you to get rid of me.” I run my fingers down his cheek.
“I want that.” He shakes his head. “No, I need that.” His eyes open, and all I can see is love. I can see so much love that I can feel it all the way to my soul. “I need you tied to me.”
“Good, I need and want the same thing,” I tell him. We stand for a few more minutes, his arms around me while we look out the window at the little chapel across the street.
“All right, babe, go get Ashlyn and go find a dress. Meet me across the street so I can make you mine.”
“Okay.” I smile and go get Ashlyn, who is sitting in the small sitting room watching cartoons. “Hey, love bug, I need your help,” I tell her, then explain exactly what we’re going to do, and all the while her smile gets bigger and bigger. My daughter is a girly-girl, and anything that involves dressing up and looking pretty she is always down for. The boys come in and tell us goodbye, and we leave shortly after them to head out in search of a dress boutique. I find a small shop in a huge casino and happen across the perfect ivory strapless gown. It hugs all my curves and fits me perfectly, and for Ashlyn, I let her pick out a very poufy pink dress and matching shoes. We head to a salon next, spending over an hour getting our hair done, along with manicures and pedicures before heading to the chapel. When we arrive, I don’t know what to expect, but I never would have thought the place would be so beautiful inside. There are no crazy impersonators, or gaudy decorations; it was just a simple room with a large alter, and six pews along the sides with beautiful cream and white flowers running between them.
“It’s so pretty,” Ashlyn says. Her eyes are lit up, and then she sees her dad at the same exact moment as I do. She takes off in a run while I’m stuck in place. He looks so hot in his tux that it’s going to take everything in me not to jump him. His eyes leave my face and travel down my body, then back up again. By the time his eyes meet mine, they are so dark and so hungry that I squeeze my thighs together, trying to release some of the ache which has settled there. “Daddy, me and Mommy had the best time eber! Look, I got a new dress,” Ashlyn says excitedly, twirling around. His eyes leave me and he smiles, looking down at our daughter.
“You look like a princess,” he tells her.
“I know!” she squeals, jumping up and down. I look to Cash’s side to see Jax standing there, looking very handsome in his tux that matches his dad’s. His hand is at his throat, trying to loosen his tie. His eyes are on his sister when he rolls them in annoyance. I smile because as much as she gets on his nerves, he really does love her. I take a step forward and squat in front of Jax. I want to make sure he is okay with us going through with this.
“You want my help?” I ask, moving my hands to his tie, where I loosen it up and undo his top button. “Are you okay with me and your dad getting married?” I ask him quietly. I know he and Ashlyn were both excited when we told them that we were engaged, but this is something different, and I need to know that he is okay with it.
“Will you be my mom?” he asks, and my eyes fly up to meet his. I take a breath; I don’t even know how to answer that.
“Ashlyn is my sister already.”
“She is,” I agree.
“So if you marry my dad, that will make you my mom, right?”
“Um...I will be your stepmom,” I tell him gently. I don’t want him to think I’m trying to take his mom’s place. He seems to consider this for a few seconds before replying, “So, can I call you Mom?”
Jeez, what the hell do I say to that? I would love for him to call me Mom, but I’m not sure how everyone else will feel about it. I watch his shoulders slump, and I make up my mind right then and there, screw everyone. Okay, not everyone, but I love this kid.
“I would be honored if you called me Mom, but I think it’s something you should talk to your dad about.”