“No peeking.” Jax readjusts the blindfold covering my eyes. He grabs onto my hand and pulls me out of the car carefully. Somehow, I lasted the whole ride from his parents’ house without getting nauseous or scared, seeing as my eyes have been covered the entire time. Darkness doesn’t make me afraid anymore. Not after a month’s worth of therapy sessions and exposures to what I feared the most.
“Where are we?”
“Do you need an answer for everything?”
“Yes. Especially when you’ve stolen me away before I could take a bath.”
Jax laughs. He didn’t give me a chance to ask questions or shower after our sparring match at his parents’ house. My skin hums with anticipation as Jax leads me toward the unknown.
I attempt to use my other senses to get an idea of our location. Grass crunches beneath my sneakers and birds chirp nearby, giving away nothing. What in the world does he want to do with me at night in the middle of nowhere? He lifts me into his arms as he walks up something I assume is a short set of stairs. A door creaks open and plastic rustles under our feet. “Murdering me already after one month of living together?”
“I want to murder myself for agreeing to live with my parents while we figured out our living situation. End of story.”
I snort. “I thought you were happy I chose to move to London?” The moment I told Jax about my idea, he requested a refund for Abuela’s care and set her up to live in the best facility in the city while we temporarily moved into his parents’ house.
“Oh, love, I’m ecstatic. But I think my parents are cramping our style.” Jax halts.
I run into his back, and he steadies me. He helps me sit on some kind of bench before he settles right next to me, his nearness bringing a smile to my face. My heart rate increases as he leaves a lingering kiss on my cheek.
His fingers brush across my lips before tracing a path of heat to the blindfold. I’m met with a vision of Jax smiling at me as he pockets the eye covering.
I blink in confusion at the piano in front of us. A few lit candles provide some light, hinting at a house under construction. “What are we doing in a random deserted house?” My voice echoes through the empty area.
“Let me explain with a song instead.” He runs his hands down the row of keys before the sweet melody of “All of Me” by John Legend fills the air around us.
I smile at him. “I love when you get all romantic on me, even though the location screams more creepy than cute.”
Jax throws his head back and laughs. He misses a beat before picking up the song again. I love when he plays for me, the peace of him getting lost in the music making my eyes cloud from happy tears. Longing grows inside of me as an image of him teaching our kids to play the piano one day hits me. I want to enjoy every memory with this man before his illness steals bits and pieces from him. Every kiss, every tender moment, every fight we have.
A large piece of blue paper spread across the music rack catches my eye.
I lean in closer. “What’s this?” I grab my phone from my pocket and turn on the flashlight.
I flip past the first page of a basic sketch of land. A note at the bottom mentions how the architect needs to include a bowling alley, a movie theater, and a closet with extra space for heels and shoes.
The next page makes me smile. It’s a sketch of the exterior with a patio, firepit, hanging string lights, a pool with a slide and a lazy river, and the layout for a mini-golf course.
The final sketch has water pooling in my eyes. I trace a finger over the colorful drawing of the coolest tree house, with a sign hanging in front labeled The Kingston Kiddos.
I can’t hide the happy tears falling down my face as I remember Jax and me discussing what a future house would look like. He listened to every single idea and had someone draw it up to match our vision.
I wrap my arms and legs around Jax, forcing him to stop playing the song.
His arms squeeze me into him. “I take it you like the plans then?”
“Like them? I love them!” I pull his lips to mine, leaving behind a searing kiss. My toes curl into my sneakers as he kisses me senseless, his hands leaving behind a path of warmth wherever they linger.
He points to a massive window across the room. “The tree house can go over there.” He forces us to face another window, facing the vast forest. “And the pool and firepit over there, next to the course.”
“Are we going to live here? For real?”
“Not only us.”
I tilt my head at him. “Oh really.”
“No treehouse is complete without kids.” He smirks.
I kiss him again. The way his eyes brighten at the idea of kids fills my heart to capacity. There’s not a doubt in my mind that this man will go above and beyond to make his kids feel every ounce of love he has in him. I should know, seeing as I’ve been on the receiving end of it for months.
Jax leans his forehead against mine. “I love you. I love you so much that I want to keep you all to myself. But the bigger part of my heart wants to spread your love to kids who need it. To our kids one day. It definitely doesn’t have to be now, but I want you to know my intentions. You deserve it all and I want to be the one to make it come true.”
A wave of adoration rushes through me. “I love you. Every single thing about you.”
“Great. Now for the second part of tonight.”
I lift a brow. “There’s more?”
“Of course. Now that the romancing is over, I’m here to show you the second reason for the piano.” Jax leaves a soft kiss by the corner of my lips.
“Hmm. Tell me more.”
“I’ve been dreaming of fucking you against one for months. Now’s my chance.”
I laugh into the night sky.
“Well, Jax Kingston, what have you been waiting for?”
“You. Always you.”
A warmth spreads through my body as Jax shows me exactly how much he loves me. Our story won’t be easy, but it’s real. Jax wasn’t the only one who needed rescuing. While he was fighting his future, I was battling my past. But together, we don’t need to fight alone.
We are stronger than a diagnosis or fear itself.
But most of all, we are stronger together than we are apart.
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