“I have a lot to thank them for,” Tate said gruffly as he hauled her suitcases out to her SUV. “They took good care of my girl and didn’t let her shoulder this alone.”

She smiled. “That’s what friends are for.”

“You’ll excuse me if I say I hope to hell you never need them this way again.”

“I hope not either,” she said with fervor.

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“Don’t be lifting that suitcase,” Tate said sharply, when Chessy reached to hoist one of the pieces of luggage into the back. “You’re pregnant for God’s sake. You don’t need to be lifting anything that heavy.”

Chessy laughed, but delighted in his protectiveness. She was so happy she just wanted to squeeze him and never let go.

“I want to have Joss and Dash and Kylie and Jensen over for dinner one night,” she said when they’d finished loading everything into her Mercedes. “Partly as a thank you and partly so they can see we’re okay.”

Tate’s expression grew serious. “Are we okay, Chessy?”

“Yeah,” she said, smiling at him.

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She reached over to lace her fingers with his and squeezed his hand reassuringly.

“It’s all in the past, Tate. Let’s leave it there, okay?”

“You’re too forgiving,” he said gruffly. “But I thank God for it every single day. Not many women would forgive what all I’ve done. You may be able to but I’m not sure I’ll ever forgive myself.”

“Stop torturing yourself,” she said gently. “It does little good to keep rehashing the past. We have so much to look forward to. A baby.”

Her smile became giddy as she imagined meeting their child for the first time. Having Tate right beside her in the delivery room, them both falling in love instantly with their son or daughter.

His expression softened and he too smiled. “I can’t wait.”

“Me either. Now, are you going to feed me or do I have to starve to death?”

He chuckled. “My girl’s demanding. Want me to cook or do you want to go out? What do you feel up to?”

“Honestly I just want to go home and settle back in where I belong. We can always order takeout.”

His look of intense satisfaction told her she’d said all the right things. “Damn right that’s where you belong. You call in whatever you want and I’ll run out and get it. And I don’t want you to do a damn thing in the meantime. I’ll get all your stuff out of the car and unpack it and put it away. If I catch you lifting so much as a finger, I’ll spank your ass.”

“That’s hardly a threat,” she said saucily. “I may just have to disobey on purpose.”

“Then I’ll have to come up with another threat. Like withholding sex for a month.”

She snorted. “As if you’d last that long. Your hand isn’t that good, babe.”

He laughed, warmth and relief spreading over his features. “We’re back,” he said with satisfaction. “God, we’re back!”

THIRTY

“DO you think they’ll last?” Kylie asked anxiously as she sat next to Jensen on the sofa.

She was curled into the crook of his shoulder, her arm stretched across his midsection while they watched a ridiculous end-of-the-world B movie. The best kind.

He stroked her hair and then pressed a kiss to the side of her head. “What I think is that we can’t control what happens in their relationship. We can only control what happens in ours.”

Kylie let out a hmmph. “Since when did you get all sage and philosophical?”

He chuckled. “I’m just smart like that. I chose you, didn’t I? That makes me the smartest guy on the planet.”

“Well, there is that …” she said smugly.

He shifted, turning slightly so he faced her instead of sitting side-by-side with her. “Speaking of …”

She cocked her head, worry assailing her at the sudden seriousness of his tone and expression. Good God, surely he wasn’t breaking up with her.

“I know this may be too soon,” he said hesitantly. “We’re still going to therapy and I know we have a long way to go, but I know my feelings aren’t going to change for you. I love you. I always will. And I want to spend the rest of my life with you.”

“Oh Jensen,” she whispered. “Swear to God if you make me cry I’ll kick your ass.”

He grinned and then pulled a small velvet jeweler’s box from underneath the sofa cushion. Then he slid from his perch on the couch and got down on one knee, opening the box to reveal a sparkling diamond engagement ring.

“Will you marry me, Kylie? We don’t have to set a date right away. I just want your promise that one day, when you’re ready, that I’ll be the man you marry.”

She couldn’t breathe around the knot in her throat and the weight bearing down on her chest. Tears blurred her vision and she sucked in a steadying breath through distended nostrils. Her hands shook uncontrollably but he made no move to slide the ring on her finger. He was waiting for her answer.

She threw her arms around his neck, holding on to him for dear life. “Yes! Oh my God, yes. I love you so much, Jensen. There’s no one I’d rather spend the rest of my life with than you.”

“Thank f**k,” he muttered. “You scared the shit out of me there for a moment when you were so silent. I thought I’d screwed up and moved too fast.”

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