Fall Into You: Epilogue

Cole

Two months later

It’s the little things that get me. The intimate little things nobody else sees but me.

How she looks when she wakes up first thing in the morning. The way she combs her hair, puts on her makeup, yawns late at night when she’s sleepy, closes her eyes when she takes the first sip of coffee in the morning.

How she smiles when I touch her.

How she sighs when I kiss her.

How she cries after she comes.

Most of the time it’s with my fingers or tongue, but those little blue pills sure do come in handy. God bless big pharma.

Now if only they could manufacture a drug that would make me walk like I used to, I’d be all set.

“Honey, be careful.”

“I’m fine.”

“I know you’re fine, but the doctor said to take it slow.”

“Turtles move faster than I am.”

“But you’re not using your walker!”

Leaning heavily on my cane, I look up at her. “Love.”

“Yes?”

“Please be quiet and let me do this.”

She takes a deep breath, then nods. Then, practically vibrating with anxiety, she bites her lower lip and watches me creep slowly across the living room carpet toward my wheelchair.

My legs feel like fucking lead.

By the time I reach the chair, I’m panting and sweating like a pig. I drop the cane, grip both arms, and catch my breath.

“Okay, I’m not saying anything, but if you need help sitting down, I’m right here.”

I close my eyes and chuckle, shaking my head. “Good to know you’re not saying anything.” I manage to get myself into the wheelchair with only a few grunts and curses, then I look up at Shay and beam.

“See? Nothing to worry about. Now come sit on my lap.”

That’s one command she always obeys without a fight. Smiling and obviously relieved I didn’t break anything in my six-foot walk, she comes over to me and carefully sits on my lap. Then she drapes her arms around my shoulders and kisses me.

“Hi.”

“Hi yourself.”

“Do you need some water?”

“Aren’t you going to tell me how amazing that was?”

“Oh yes. Pardon me. That’s was very amazing. Now do you need some water?”

“No, baby. My hydration level is adequate.”

She furrows her brow. “Only adequate?”

“Stop worrying about me.”

She snorts. “Sure. Tell me to stop eating too, that’s about as likely.”

“Speaking of eating, that reminds me. My parents want us to come over to their place for Thanksgiving.”

“I promised my mom I’d spend Thanksgiving with her.”

“So invite her.”

“Really? You don’t think they’d mind?”

“No, they won’t mind. They love you. Invite your dad and his wife too. I’ll invite Axel and Kiyoko. Let’s get everyone together.”

I can tell she’s pleased by that. Pleased and surprised, because me wanting to have people around is still a new thing for both of us.

“Have you spoken to Kiyoko lately?”

“Last week.”

“How’s she doing?”

“She sounded good. She moved to a new place in Vancouver, some high-rise apartment building with a view of the water. She and Axel are trying to find someone to take my place in the business. In the meantime, she’s glad I’ve got you to look after me.”

“Me and all your medical personnel. You know, I think that big guy who comes on Thursdays with the anchor tattoo on his forearm has a thing for you.”

“I never should’ve told you about that male nurse in the hospital. Besides, anchor tattoos don’t do it for me. It would have to be a dragon or something cool like that for me to be interested.”

We smile at each other. For the millionth time, I think how lucky I am to have her.

I still don’t think I deserve her, but I’m selfish enough that I no longer let it get in the way.

She looks down at the collar of my shirt and starts to fiddle with it. “So…is it strange having me here all the time?”

I put a knuckle under her chin and tilt her head up so I can look into her eyes. “No. I love having you living with me.”

“You know I kept my apartment in case you want to kick me out.”

“Say something like that again, and I’ll run over your foot with this chair.”

Her head still lowered, she peeks up at me. “You could tell me, you know. I promise I’ll only cry for a minute.”

“Am I going to have to spank you?”

“I’m serious, Cole. I love being with you, but I know how much you like your privacy—”

“I have an idea,” I interrupt loudly. “Why don’t you put your hand in my pocket?”

She crinkles her nose, and I sigh.

“Not for that. God, your mind is dirtier than mine.”

“Why else would I want to put my hand in your pocket?”

“Could you do me a favor and do what I ask you one time without questioning it?”

Her smile is brilliant. “What fun would that be?”

When I glower at her, she relents.

“Fine. This is me sticking my hand in your pocket.”

“Not that one. The other one.”

She gives me a sour look, then leans to my other side and pats around my hip until she finds the pocket of my slacks. Then she shoves her hand inside.

I can tell when she finds the box by the way her eyes widen.

“You said you were a size six in rings. I didn’t forget.”

Her hand shaking, she withdraws the little black box and stares at it. Her eyes fill with tears.

“I love you, Shay. I fell in love with you the first day we met when you sat down at my table and smiled at me. And I’ll love you until I take my last breath. Nobody else has ever been as good to me or for me as you’ve been, and I want to spend the rest of my life trying to be that good for you. So please do me the honor of marrying me, because without you, I’m nothing.”

Her face crumples. Tears slide down her cheeks. She throws her arms around my shoulders and starts sobbing.

Holding her, I start to laugh. “I take it that’s a yes?”

“It’s a yes, you impossible man! It’s a yes!”

“You didn’t even see the ring yet.”

She wails, “I don’t care about the ring!”

“You should probably look at it, though. Owls aren’t known for their great taste in jewelry.”

She buries her face in my chest and sobs. “When I stop crying, I’m going to kill you.”

I kiss her on the top of her head and blink away the water from my eyes. Grinning, I whisper, “I know, baby. I know.”


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