together as I stare at the door.
This is ridiculous.
I’m being ridiculous.
I suggested coming here today, not Jaxon. He didn’t pressure me. He’s given me time, just like I asked. He’s kept to his word, and I must keep to mine. I told him I needed time to think, and I’ve done that. I’ve done nothing but think this last couple of weeks. I need to tell him what I’ve decided. It’s not fair to keep him waiting. And being truthful with myself, I want to see him, see his new house.
See what him moving on looks like.
I had to talk Rachel out of coming with me this morning. She was hell-bent on me not coming. I know she’s just worried because she cares and doesn’t want to see me get hurt. The same as Lydia, Abigail, my parents… they all want me to be happy.
But only I know what that happiness looks like for me.
Or at least, I hope I will once I see on the other side of the door and confirm my decision.
The pale grey door has a brass lion’s head door knocker. The knocker part is held between the lion’s teeth, suspended between sharp, jagged teeth that could clamp down on it and tear it apart.
A shiver runs up my spine.
I feel like that knocker—stood here.
Yet, if I freeze and stay still in fear of the teeth, then the door will remain closed. And the other side of the door holds so much more.
I take a deep breath as I gaze up at the house. It’s a recently renovated detached Georgian house with large windows and a fresh white paint coat on the outside. Its gravel driveway is edged with camelia bushes, and one lone magnolia tree grows in front of one window. The floral, soapy scent reaches where I’m standing on the stone steps.
In other words, this house is beautiful.
The type of house that would feature in designer homes magazines. It’s in a leafy suburb of London. Far enough from all the offices and noise of the city, but close enough that Jaxon’s commute to the office is under forty minutes, even in rush hour.
No doubt a detail he planned.
The nerves dance in my stomach, and I want to turn around. But I can’t keep hiding—it’s time.
I reach up and grasp the door knocker between my fingers. The sleeve of my blazer rides up, and my watch reads seven minutes past four. I have stood for over seven minutes listening to my internal struggle of whether I should even be here. I know I had to be here one day, having this conversation; it’s not going to wait forever. Yet, the thought of seeing Jaxon again both excites and terrifies me in equal measures. But it’s like Lydia and Abigail told me this morning at the pre-meet pep talk over coffee—my gut will tell me if I’m making the right decision. I can’t trust my heart, as it would betray me for Jaxon at the mere sight of him. He captured that part of me a long time ago. But my gut… my gut will tell me if what I’m about to do is right.
My heart races as the knocker makes a dull thud, and the door flies open before my arm has even made it back down to my side.
Was he stood there, on the other side all this time? Just waiting for me to find the courage to knock?
I stand mute as Jaxon comes into view.
My disloyal heart lifts, just as I knew it would.
He’s wearing black jeans and a grey t-shirt, his feet bare. It’s the most casual I’ve ever seen him dressed, except that time he was off work ill. My chest tightens at the memory.
I thought he was made for suits. But seeing him now, like this, catches me off guard. He looks relaxed, his hair ruffled as though he’s just run his hands through it.
He looks… good… sexy.
Heat flushes in my cheeks as I stare at him.
“Megan.” His dark eyes crease at the corners as he smiles. “Please, come in. Let me take your jacket. Did you find your way here, okay?”
“Yes.” I nod and step into the foyer, onto what looks like the original tile floor, all polished and restored, so it’s like new.
Jaxon closes the door and reaches to help me out of my blazer. His fingers dust the skin on my neck as he stands behind me and slides it down over my shoulders. He’s so close I can feel the heat from his body, his muscular chest only inches from my back. The hairs on the back of my neck stand up as his breath falls over my skin.
“I’m so glad you came, Megan.”
“So, new house?” I say, willing my heart to stop racing.
“You said you’d never come through the door of the old one again. It seemed like a good solution,” he says as I turn and watch him hang my jacket up, the veins in his strong forearms visible, small flecks of pale paint on the skin there.
“Decorating,” he explains as he follows my gaze. “The house has been newly renovated, so it doesn’t need much doing. But there were a couple of things I wanted to change.” He extends an arm out, and I take his invitation to walk ahead, down the hallway. “Let me make us a drink, and then I can give you a tour.”
“Thank you, that sounds—” My voice is stolen mid-sentence as I stare around at the open plan kitchen and living area that I’ve walked into at the back of the house.
Everything is new and immaculate. The kitchen is deep blue with copper handles on the drawers. The worktops are white quartz, and the entire area is flooded with light from the lantern roof and the wall of glass that opens out onto the garden.
“Jaxon, this is stunning!” I turn and grab onto his arm in excitement as my eyes roam over the space. “Sorry, I…” I draw my hands back into my sides, realising what I’m doing. “I mean, it’s lovely.”
He doesn’t move away. Instead, he stays standing close to me as he looks around the room. He’s so calm. I’m struggling to breathe just by being here. Yet, he doesn’t seem affected at all.
“Yes, it’s a great space. And it’s going to be great to have a garden during the summer.”
I look out at the large deck and flat lawn beyond. There’s a weeping willow tree halfway down, its long trailing branches like curtains concealing a secret hideaway.
“The willow will make a great den.” His eyes catch mine, and I look away quickly. “Or a place to read…” he adds before clearing his throat. “Ginger tea?”
I watch as he puts the kettle on and fetches two matching grey mugs from a cupboard. I get the impression he wants to say something. He leans back against the counter, running his hand over his chin, deep in thought, until the kettle clicks off, and he turns his attention back to the mugs.
“You know, I tried making my own. But it wasn’t the same,” I say, my voice light. Grasping at any kind of small talk to break the silence.
He runs a hand around the back of his neck before glancing back over his shoulder at me, flashing a playful grin.
“That’s because you don’t know the secret method.” He chuckles. “It’s all in the preparation. I soak the ginger in honey and lemon juice overnight first.”
He hands me a steaming mug, and I inhale the fragrance, my eyes fluttering closed for a second.
He’s watching me when I open them.
“Sorry, it just smells so good,” I say, embarrassed.
“Don’t apologise, Megan.” He lifts his thumb to my bottom lip and pulls it free of my teeth.
I didn’t even know I was biting it.
“I’m pleased you like it. How are you feeling?”
His eyes stay on my face as my free hand automatically goes to my stomach.
“Good. I’m feeling good. I’ve been keeping up my Barre classes with Abigail. And I’ve been trying to get some earlier nights, when I get the chance with work, anyway.”
“Well, you look radiant.” His eyes roam over my face. “God,” he smiles and runs a hand over his jaw, “my heart is pounding in my chest. I was so worried you weren’t going to come.” He blows out a shaky breath.
“You’re nervous?” I search his face.
There’s no way he can be nervous. He’s so calm and in control all the time.
His eyes glitter at me as he shakes his head, one corner of his lips turned up.
“I’m bloody shaking inside.” A nervous laugh escapes his lips as he looks at me.
The tension leaves my body, and I relax enough to smile.
“Me too. I didn’t know how I was going to feel seeing you again. It’s been… it’s been a rollercoaster,” I murmur, looking down into my mug.
“More like a ride of terror for me,” he says, the earlier smile growing on his face as I raise my eyes to meet his.
I’m drawn into them, remembering the way he looked at me that first night we met, the connection I felt then.
It’s still there, burning brighter than ever.
This man is in my soul.
He’s been there ever since that first night.
I clear my throat and fidget on my feet. I’m not ready to acknowledge what that means yet. My head is still fighting my heart. Only now, my gut is choosing sides, and it’s not the one I expected. Not the one I’ve prepared for.
Jaxon’s smile leaves his face as he studies me. I’m probably wrinkling up my nose. My apparent ‘tell’. He can probably see the confusion written all over my face.
“Why don’t you show me around?” I suggest, needing to move. Needing to step out from under his gaze.
He nods, two creases appearing between his eyebrows. “Okay. Let’s start downstairs.”
We walk from room to room. This house is special. It has kept most of its original features like the ceiling roses and architraves. Yet, it has all the modern luxuries you could dream of. A marble bathroom with roll-top bath, twin his and hers sinks, a giant walk-in shower with so many water jets set at different angles that I lose count. Walk-in wardrobes, dressing rooms.
The list goes on.
It’s a large house for just Jaxon.
He stops in front of a closed door before turning to me.
“There are two rooms left, which you haven’t seen, Megan. This is the first.” He presses his fingers into his eyes, tension clouding his face. “I don’t know whether to show you or not.” He drops his hand and looks at me, his face pinched with worry.
I swallow as my stomach twists. Whatever is behind this door means something to him.
My reaction means something to him.
He turns the knob and pushes the door open, his eyes fixed on me as I step inside. I look around, my heart beating hard.
“You did this, Jaxon? All of this?”
“Christopher helped last weekend.” His eyes stay still glued to my face as I look around the nursery.
I can’t stop my voice from shaking.
“It’s beautiful.” It’s painted a pale green and has matching furniture in white wood. A cot, changing station, wardrobe, chest of drawers. A large glider chair and footstool are set up by the window. “What’s going in those?” I point to the empty white frames which are hung on the walls.
“That’s up to you, Megan. I thought you might like to put some of your own artwork in them.”
“Oh.” I stand rooted to the spot.
“It’s a place for the baby to stay if that’s okay with you? I mean… if we… if you’re happy to let me look after them sometimes?” He frowns as I turn to face him.
Look after them sometimes? He means leave the baby here, with him. Not live here, together.
Bile rises in my throat, and I force it back down.
He’s changed his mind.
I back out of the room.
“I don’t…” my eyes dart around, as though the words I need will appear in the air.
I don’t know what to say. I thought I was coming here today to let him know if I could see us trying again. I thought he had given me the time I had asked for. Not left me alone because he has changed his mind again and doesn’t see us together.
I look at him, and his eyes widen as he reaches for me.
“Megan, what’s wrong? You’re pale. What did I say?”
He pulls me into his arms, and I let him.
I let him wrap me up in his warm, familiar scent as I rest my cheek against his chest.
One last time.
If we don’t have a future together, then I just need to be held by him.
One. Last. Time.
He presses a kiss to my hair and inhales as his arms tighten around me.
“Princess, talk to me. Please.”
“Stop calling me that,” I whisper, squeezing my eyes shut.
He stiffens. “I’m sorry. I just…” He raises one hand to my head and strokes my hair, and lets out a deep sigh. “Can I show you the last room before you go?”
Before I go.
He wants me to leave.
I try my best to hold myself together as his arms release me.
“Sure.” I smile, knowing it doesn’t reach my eyes, but it’s the best I can manage.
He walks towards another door. “You open this one.”
I stare at the doorknob. I don’t understand what else he wants to show me. Seeing the nursery that he plans to use when the baby stays here without me is hard enough.
What else can he possibly have left?
“Please, Megan,” he coaxes.
I turn the knob and open the door, open myself up to whatever further pain lies behind it. It’s a bright room. Sunlight streams in, and it takes a second for me to focus on what’s inside. There’s a large drawing board set up on a stand to one side and a giant desk in one corner. My breath catches in my throat as my eyes settle on the drawing on the wall.
“You kept it?”
“I did.” Jaxon comes to stand next to me, his arm brushing against mine. “She reminds me of you.”
My skin tingles where our arms touch. The woman in the drawing looks back at us, her eyes shining with love, strands of hair blowing across her face.
The drawing from Calvin’s restaurant.
The drawing Jaxon tried to gift to me for my new office at Articulate.
“Why?” I whisper, looking up at him.
“Because if you aren’t going to forgive me, Megan. Then she’s all I have left of you.” His eyes shine at me.
“But the nursery… you said it’s for the baby to stay in sometimes.” My voice cracks.
“Yes. If that’s what you want.” Jaxon turns to face me and takes both of my hands in his.
“What do you want?” I ask.
His chest heaves.
“I want the same as I told you, Megan. I’m not changing my mind. Ever. I want you and the baby. I want us to be together as a family. I want you to live here. I want this to be our home.” He searches my face. “I’ve started speaking to a therapist Joanna recommended to help me deal with things in my head. To the way I reacted to everything. To how I hurt you.” He squeezes his eyes shut for a second. When he opens them, they’re shining with unshed tears. “I want a future together, Megan. But you must want it, too. I will not force you into anything. I told you I would wait, and I meant it. If you aren’t ready to decide yet, then I will wait. I will wait forever. There’s no one else for me. Only the two of you.”
“I thought you’d changed your mind again.”
He lifts his hands and cups my face, his thumbs tracing over my cheeks as he stares into my eyes and rests his forehead against mine.
“Never,” he whispers, “I love you.”
Times seems to stand still as I look back at him. Every sound around us stops. Even the air seems to freeze. Everything grinds to a halt until we are the only two people in existence still moving.
This is it.
It’s time to listen to what my gut is telling me.
Listen to what I feel deep in my core and act on it—do what I know is right.
“I love you too,” I say.
His eyes crease at the corners as they burn into mine. He looks at me with such intensity, I feel it through my entire being.
“Are you saying?” His voice is even, calm. But he has tears in his eyes.
I look deep into his eyes as a fluttering takes over my chest.
This is the moment where it all changes.
New beginnings, new roots placed down, new life drawn from them.
With just one word… if I can just say it…
“Megan?” Jaxon searches my eyes as he sucks in air.
“I’m saying yes, Jaxon. Yes, I forgive you. And yes, I want to try again.”
“Megan.” He lets out a huge breath as his eyes look upwards. “Thank you.”
It’s not clear if he’s thanking me or a higher power, but as his lips crash down onto mine, I know who he’s thinking of now.
He kisses me like his life depends on it, and I open to him, allowing him to fill the gaps, heal the broken pieces that being apart have caused.
I kiss him like he’s my past, my present, my future, and everything that comes with it.
Whatever that may look like.
Whatever that brings.
“Megan, God, Megan, I love you, Princess. I love you so much,” he breathes, and our kisses grow more urgent, more forceful.
I grasp his t-shirt in my fists as I pull him closer. I need him closer.
It’s been too long, far too long.
“I can’t… I wouldn’t—” I gasp between kisses.
“What is it?” He draws back to look at me, his eyes searching mine as he holds my face.
“Don’t let me down again,” I whisper, as my eyes sting.
“Megan…” He squeezes his eyes shut, his thumbs stroking my cheeks. When he opens them again, they’re filled with a determination stronger than I’ve seen in him before. “I will be the man you deserve, Megan. I promise you.”
I stare back at him, my breath coming in short bursts as I nod at him. “You need to be.”
“I will, Princess. I promise you. I will never give you a reason to doubt me again.” He looks at me as I pull him closer with my hand that’s still grabbing onto his t-shirt.
“Okay, then.” I give him a small smile as his hands leave my face and delve into my hair.
He tilts my head back and slides his tongue inside my mouth. White fire erupts inside me like mercury on a flame.
I tear at his clothes, needing him, needing to feel his skin against mine. I drag his t-shirt off over his head. He looks at me, an unspoken question in his gaze, and I nod, pulling his lips back onto mine. His hands slide up my sides, and I raise my arms so he can take my dress off. Our skin crashes together as we wrap ourselves in each other, somehow getting out of every item of clothing until they are strewn around the room.
“I’ve missed this,” I moan as Jaxon kisses and nips at my neck.
“I’ve missed everything about you, Megan,” he breathes as his hands drop to my breasts, and he traces my nipples with his fingers.
I arch into him, my nipples hardening under his touch. My breasts are swollen and sensitive from the hormones. The sensation of him touching them has me writhing against him, desperate for everything he’s about to give me.
“I need you, Jaxon. The last time it was… I need to make new memories. Please.”
His eyes rise to meet mine, and he strokes the back of one hand down my cheek.
“Megan, I will spend every day of my life making up for what I put you through.”
“Start now.” I put my arms around his neck and lean forward, kissing him tenderly.
He slides his arms around me and lifts me. I wrap my legs around his waist, and he sinks to the floor, laying me back against the deep pile carpet, his lips never leaving mine.
“I love you, Megan.” He gazes into my eyes, dropping one hand to my stomach and laying his large, warm palm flat against it. “I love both of you.”
Warmth spreads through me as I look back into his eyes.
“Can you? After the surgery…? Is it okay? Has it healed?” I ask, searching his eyes.
He presses his erection against my thigh and smiles. “It should be fine, but there’s only one way to find out.”
“We should check.” I smile back at him.
“Yes, we should definitely check.” He leans down and nips my bottom lip between his teeth.
I moan and hook my ankles behind his back, pulling him against me.
“Now. We should check now.” I pull his lips down onto mine.
He lines himself up, and the broad, wet tip of him stretches me as he slides inside.
His eyes stay on mine, and it feels right.
At this moment, it feels like everything is right again.
We look at each other for a second without moving, our breath tangled in the tiny space between us, unable to tell where one ends and the other begins.
“Jaxon,” I moan, pulling his lips to mine again.
“God, Princess, you’re so wet,” he groans against my mouth.
I bury my hands into his hair and clench around him, accentuating my need for him. He keeps one hand on my cheek, sliding the other down and underneath my bum so he can lift it towards him.
“That feels so good.” I throw my head back as the angle allows him to push in deeper.
Push himself deep inside my core… deep inside my heart.
“Just like that, don’t stop.”
“I won’t,” he breathes against my neck as he kisses it. “I will never stop, Megan. Never stop loving you, showing you how much you mean to me every single day.”
I grind against him as he pumps slow and deep, his breathing growing more ragged with each thrust. The angle and how tightly pressed together we are means his skin presses against my clitoris each time our bodies meet. Every muscle in my body starts to tighten as he buries his face in my hair and groans my name.
“Jaxon… I’m …oh, wow,” I squeeze my eyes shut as the pleasure grows inside me, awakening every nerve in my body.
“Look at me, Princess.” I open my eyes, and Jaxon’s shine down at me. “I will never give you a reason to doubt my love for you ever again, Megan. My heart, my soul, it’s all powered by my love for you. For us.”
“I love you, Jaxon King,” I murmur as he quickens his pace, our bodies connected and aching for each other.
I can’t find any words that will say it any better.
I love him.
Love isn’t perfect. It isn’t always easy, but it’s beautiful and raw, and right now, it’s consuming my body, just like my need for him.
“Oh, god, that feels so…” I tilt my head back as the pressure builds in my core.
Jaxon lifts his chin, a satisfied smile on his face as my mouth falls open and my breath catches in my throat, my body tense.
“Come for me, Megan. Show me the sight I intend on seeing every day from now on.”
I stare up at him as my toes tingle and my whole body begins to shake.
I fight to keep my eyes open as the fire inside me ignites, engulfing my body in white-hot tremors as my body releases, wrapping itself around him, pulling him deeper. I moan and writhe underneath him as pulse after pulse flows through me.
His eyes never leave mine. They only darken as he breathes out my name, releasing heat deep inside me as he comes.
My eyes are fixed on his. I can’t look away.
I don’t want to look away.
The look of awe in his eyes, mixed with compassion, respect, but most of all love…is the rawest, most beautiful thing.
I feel it in every fibre of my being.
We are going to be okay.