Not a day goes by when I’m not kissing Charlotte’s belly.
I can’t help myself. The moment I discovered she was pregnant, I was over the moon. I’ve never felt anything this invigorating. It makes me dream of a better future, a time when my son or daughter will grow up in a place where he or she is loved. Where Mommy and Daddy stay together against all the odds because they’ve already been through the worst. From my deepest, darkest downfall, Charlotte managed to pull me back into the light. With only love and kindness and her tenacity, she made me fall for the woman she’s become. And I can only be grateful for what she’s done for me.
I know I’m a jealous and controlling son of a bitch, but she still loves me even though I don’t deserve it. To be a little less of an asshole, I’ve removed the cameras so she won’t feel watched. It’s the least I could do … Not to mention the fact that I have access to her 24/7, and she can’t deny me her body either way.
Still, I’m far more in love with her mind and heart than I am with her body. I’m so goddamn proud of her as she works at her own desk right here in my study. After she started up her fundraising charity for kids, I knew she’d do good. She radiates whenever she spends time on it. I made the right decision in being the first to invest.
Jill’s right by our side, helping Charlotte set up her business as best as she can. They both don’t have much knowledge about running one, but I have the necessary skills to educate them on the matter. But only if it’s really needed because I want them to learn for themselves.
Besides, it’s good for Jill to be able to spend her time somewhere else instead of focusing solely on me. She’s doing much better now that she has a new goal. Hanging around me all the time made us both uncomfortable, and it was only after that kiss on my forehead that I realized how she truly felt about me. But I could never reciprocate those feelings, and that was hard on her.
But judging from the looks she just exchanged with Nick while he walked past the door, I reckon she’ll be all right. She’s been a chirpy girl lately, and now that the dust has settled, I can honestly say I’m happy about the way things are going right now.
Except for one tiny detail.
Easton suddenly closes his laptop and walks off, only to return minutes later. I’m curious, but I won’t ask because then he knows I’m looking. My eyes widen when they catch a glimpse of him hiding something behind his back as he approaches me.
“Easton …” I reply coyly.
“Close your eyes,” he says, smirking.
“Why?” I ask. I wonder what he’s planning.
“Just do it, please,” he says.
I roll my eyes, and say, “Okay, since you asked so nicely.”
“Good girl,” he jests, and he grabs my hand and pushes something inside, then closes it. “I wanted to give you this. Open your eyes.”
My eyes popped open along with my hand. Inside, I find the necklace Deion gave me. “Oh, my God …” I didn’t think I’d ever see it again. I thought Easton had thrown it away.
“I’m sorry for taking it from you. I would’ve given it back sooner, but it broke, and I had to get it fixed.”
I jump up from my seat and straight into his arms. “Thank you.”
Hugging me back, he says, “Well, I didn’t expect that.” He snorts.
“What did you expect?” I ask as I look him in the eyes.
“That you’d be upset or worse,” he jokes.
“Oh, it can be worse?” I raise a brow.
“Well, you know … throwing books at my face or maybe even a knife.”
I mull it over for a second. “Yeah, I probably would.”
He snorts and shakes his head. “But I’m glad you like it.”
I smile. “It’s a welcome surprise.”
“Hmm … then you’ll probably love this surprise even more,” he says, and he whips out a tiny box from his pocket. He opens it up and shows me the diamond-studded ring inside.
“Oh, my God …”
“That’s the second one I get today. Must’ve done something good,” he says.
“It’s beautiful.” I gasp. “Is it for me?”
Easton grabs my ring finger and takes out the ring, sliding it on with ease. “Only for you, no one else.”
“Thank you.” I look at the ring on my finger, the first and only ring which almost manages to bring me to tears.
“Since you threw the other one away,” he adds.
I laugh. “Sorry …”
“It’s fine. I was a dick,” he replies. “I just hope I’m not a dick anymore.”
I make a gesture with my fingers, pushing them nearly together. “A tiny bit.”
He smiles. “I’ll take it.” He places a hand on my belly and then his mouth too. “You hear that, little one? Your mom’s smitten with me.”
I laugh, but Easton interrupts me by grabbing my face and kissing me on the lips. His mere lips can take me to sweet, sinful ecstasy. His mouth turns me to mush and reminds me why I chose this instead of freedom. Why I want him and no other man. He tamed my heart in the most grueling way. A way that no other man would ever walk. That I’m sure of.
“I love you,” he whispers.
“I love you too,” I say.
God, we’re like an old couple already.
With a smoldering, heart-pounding gaze, he asks, “What do you say we renew our vows?”
My lips part, but I don’t know how to react. “Wow. Really?”
“Really. I’ve already made all the arrangements. This weekend.”
My pupils dilate, and my heart stops. “Holy shit. You did all that behind my back?”
A wicked smile forms on his lips. “All you need to do is say yes … for real this time. No forced marriage. No debt. No deals.”
A lopsided grin spreads on my face. “Yes.”
He makes a weird face. “That was quick. You sure?”
I wrap my arm around his neck. “I don’t have to think about it. I already knew my heart was yours a long time ago.”
“Hmm, I like the sound of that. What else is mine?”
“Your body …?” he murmurs, pressing a kiss to my neck. “Your lips …?” Another ever so soft kiss placed on my lips. “Your soul?” He clutches my hand tight and whisks me away with just a simple kiss.
“Yes,” I murmur.
“Out of your own free will,” he adds.
And that’s the honest truth. I give him my all because I want to, because I’m as bound to him as he is bound to me. And I’m no longer ashamed to be Charlotte Van Buren. I’m proud.