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Hopeless: Chapter 34

Beau

Bailey’s eyes have widened to unbelievable size, and her lips pop open as she stares back at me. Shocked? Confused? I’m not sure, but I can tell the events of tonight have thrown her for a loop.

“Was there a part of that order you didn’t understand, Bailey?”

I step closer to her, chin tipping down to keep my gaze fixed on hers. Her tongue darts out over her bottom lip and my eyes follow it hungrily.

“Okay. So, let me get this straight.”

I nod, biting down on a smirk. She’s having a hard time accepting this. In hindsight, I should have started this conversation differently.

“We’re not faking anymore.”

“That’s right.”

“Because we both want this?”

“It seems that way.” A deep chuckle rumbles in my chest as I watch her work it out in those coal-black eyes. A darkness I actually want to get lost in.

“How do we do this? Like, we just carry on? I … ” One of her hands grips her throat. “Beau, I have all these plans.”

I skim a hand up and down her rib cage. “We’ll work it out. We don’t have to have all the answers right this second.”

She nibbles at her lip. “I’m your real fiancée now?”

“Yes.”

She slowly nods her head, understanding flaring to life in her eyes. And then … something more playful?

Her head tilts, her arms cross, and her mouth takes on a teasing curve. “What if I told you I don’t want to be engaged to you?”

I drop my lips closer drawn in by the heat from her skin. We breathe each other’s breath. “Then I’d call you a fucking liar, sugar.”

I kiss her. I don’t give her a chance to run her smart mouth and test my patience with bratty jokes. I take her mouth to shut her up and to claim her.

Her hands fist my shirt and our tongues tangle as my fingers thread through the silky locks of her hair. This kiss feels different. Better. Less tentative and more desperate.

“You’re insane,” she mutters against my lips between kisses, and she’s probably not wrong. But I’m past caring about the way I’m perceived.

I pull back, dotting kisses over her cheeks. Over her nose.

And I confess my truth to her.

“I’ve been doing impulsive shit, hoping one of those things might make me feel something. And not a single one of them did. Until you. So if this thing with you makes me insane? I’ll be happy to wear that badge.”

When our eyes meet, all I see is longing and pride. No pity, no uncertainty. We both know this is right. It just felt too unlikely to say out loud.

“Do you really love me?”

Do I love her? God. What a pedestrian question, one that feels like it doesn’t encompass all the feelings I have for her. It doesn’t seem like enough. But I’ll keep telling her, keep showing her, until I figure out better words to describe the way I feel about her.

“Bailey Jansen, I love you,” I murmur as our faces dance close to one another, exchanging soft kisses. We’re in this kind of lull. Standing on a precipice, ready to topple over the edge.

“How do you know?”

I kiss just below her ear, reveling in the way she tilts her head. My lips move down to her neck. “I just do.” I kiss her shoulder, right beside the tied strap.

“I don’t think anyone has ever loved me.”

I freeze. The pain in my chest is sharp, instant, acute.

She says it like it’s a fact.

I’ve seen a lot of sad shit in my life, but none of it has wounded me the way that one sentence just did. I don’t know what to say. What is a person supposed to say to that? Are words enough?

It strikes me that they’re not.

A boy might stand here waiting for her to say it back, but I don’t need that validation. Bailey might not know what love is, but I do.

Love is telling me I’m acting like an asshole when no one else will.

Love is taking me shopping to find shoes that don’t rub my feet raw.

It’s waking up every goddamn night for weeks to swim in the river with me, so I don’t have a nightmare.

Bailey doesn’t need flowery words.

Bailey needs proof.

I lift my head, getting lost in the inky depths of her irises. “Then let me be the first to do that too.”

She nods and my fingers curl around the soft cotton. I slowly lift it, dragging it up her body. Her arms raise without resistance as I discard the shirt, leaving her standing before me in a pale pink strapless bra. My hands roam as I take her in, continuing down her back where I unfasten the hooks and let her bra fall away too.

When I drop to my knees in front of her, her hands sink into my hair. Combing. Stroking.

I take my time. It feels a bit like unwrapping a present. But not the way I did as a child, shredding and tearing until I got to what was underneath. No, this is me carefully peeling the tape back, smoothing every crease.

Her button. Her zipper. Her jeans. All gently pulled away until it’s just a smooth expanse of skin and a pale pink thong.

I look up at her, meeting her gaze, as my hands slide over her hips, cupping the firm globes of her ass. “I love you.”

“Okay,” she whispers, like she still can’t quite believe it. And that’s fine with me. I like a challenge.

“Should I keep going?”

Her nod is fast, slightly frantic. “Yes. Please.”

My lips quirk as I work her underwear down her thighs. She’s still. Too still. “I like it when you’re so sweet and polite, Bailey.”

A nervous laugh tumbles from her lips, and she breathes again. “Fuck you, Beau.”

My cheek twitches. There’s the girl I know.

With her panties around her ankles, I glance up at her, giving her my wickedest grin to cut the tension. “That’s exactly what you’re going to be doing once I finish eating this pretty pussy.”


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