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Powerless: Chapter 38

Jasper

Roman: Management and ownership are all on the same page. I relayed everything we talked about. I just wish I could be a fly on the wall when they tell this fucker to take a hike.

Jasper: Thanks, Coach.

Roman: I’ve always got your back, Jasper. Now go get the girl.


I shove that heavy wood door open, sucking in the frosty December air. It smells like snow and exhaust. And it tastes likes freedom.

“Never take me to that fucking restaurant again,” I say, right as I turn to tug Sloane into me. Her lips are the same shade of red as her nails.

She’s got a real femme fatale vibe going on, and I am so here for it.

She laughs, sounding giddy and looking all wide-eyed. “I can’t believe I just said all that.” One hand lands on her cheek. “I can’t believe you told him you fucked the ring right off my finger!”

I laugh now too because that shit was satisfying. “Did you see his face?”

Sloane nods, biting at her lip, eyes twinkling from reflecting the headlights of the cars buzzing past. “You came for me,” she says, tipping her chin up and gracing me with the prettiest fucking smile.

“Of course. I told you I never wanted to be without you and I meant it.”

“I wasn’t sure—”

“I’ve been sick for days. I came to our house but didn’t know what to say. I’ve tried to figure out a good reason for why I froze in the car the other night. A reason why I didn’t use the words I really wanted to even though I could feel them right there at the tip of my tongue. But there is no excuse.” I brush at her hair. “I’ve been hiding for so long, peeking out at you from under the brim of my hat, that I got comfortable there. I’m sorry that I’m late in so many ways. Not just to dinner but to figuring myself out. I was . . .”

For a moment, I glance away and swallow. “I was scared. Scared to need you this badly. Really fucking scared to lose you.”

Her eyes flutter shut on a heavy sigh, and I cup her head, wanting her eyes back on me. “I know—”

“No, Sunny. I shouldn’t be scared. You’re the least scary thing in my life. You’re not just tattooed on my skin. You’re branded on my heart. Woven into the fiber of my being. The most constant and reassuring person in my life. When I close my eyes, I see you. When you’re away from me, I dream about you. When I need someone to lean on, you are always there for me. God. You’ve loved me when I haven’t even been able to love myself.” My hands squeeze her cheeks and tears seep out over them. But she’s smiling up at me like I hung the moon.

“You’ve looked at me like this for so damn long. And I don’t know when I started looking back, only that I did. Forcing myself to look away for so many years has been a special kind of torture. I’ve tortured myself for long enough. I’m done hiding, done missing out on this. On us.”

A quiet sob leaps from her lips, and she presses her head into the center of my chest.

“Sloane, I won’t go without you.”

“You’ve never been without me, Jasper. Not since the first day I laid eyes on you.”

My heart cracks at her admission, and she presses in closer. Like she knows she fits there. Like she knows she belongs there. Filling in all the cracks where I break.

I hold her tight and rest my cheek on the crown of her head.

“I’m sorry you’re the only thing that’s ever made me feel whole again. I’m sorry I’ve needed so much from you. Sunny, I’m sorry I’m so damn late. But thank you for waiting.”

Her hand slides into my suit jacket and she palms the ballerina tattoo on my ribs. “You showed up right on time.” She peeks up at me. “Have you been staying in one of the empty houses?”

My lips twitch. “Maybe.”

“Is there a bed?”

I shrug. “An air mattress.”

“Jasper!” She groans my name, but her voice is amused too.

“What? I don’t like being away from you. In fact, I would have been earlier. But I had to pick up your birthday present.”

“You bought me a birthday present?” Her eyes light.

“Of course I brought you a birthday present. What kind of asshole shows up to his girlfriend’s birthday dinner without a gift?”

She quirks an eyebrow at me and we both smile. “Girlfriend?”

“Of course.”

Then from within my pocket, I press the button on the key fob and the SUV behind me blinks to life with a soft beeping noise.

Sloane’s gaze hits the white Volvo and then slices back to me. “You bought me a car?”

“Safest one I could find. They’ve done the crash tests and—”

“Jasper,” she giggles my name. “I trust you. I’ll take your word for it. I . . . I love it.”

“I know you mostly walk everywhere in the city.” I clear my throat, feeling suddenly bashful. “But I want you to have something safe for your commute.”

“My commute, huh?” She’s grinning now. It’s infectious.

“Yeah. From our house in Chestnut Springs. You’ll need a safe car to get into the city for work. And you need your freedom to go wherever you want. Do whatever you want.”

At that, her eyes fill. She blinks, and a lone tear rolls down over her cheek.

“You just get me, you know that?” Her head wags gently. “You always have.”

Everything aches—my heart, my throat, my chest—so I do the only thing that I can think of to make it hurt less. “I love you, Sloane Winthrop. I always have. I love you so damn hard I don’t even know what to do with it. You’re my person. And I think I’m yours too.”

“You have always been my person,” she chokes out. “I love you so much.”

I don’t pause. I don’t think twice. I tilt her head up and I kiss her.

In the middle of a busy street for the whole damn world to see while snow falls around us. In the exact spot she walked away from me once before.

But this time, it’s us.

Together.


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