Epilogue – One month later
will be one hundred and eight by the time we get there! Not twenty-eight,” I call after Reed, who’s gone back upstairs again.
“One second,” he shouts back down.
I flop into the chair in the hallway and look over at Bruce and Beryl.
“You two were made for mansion life. Look at you both, loving your little sunny spot.” I smile and get up, grabbing the mist bottle from the drawer, and begin misting them generously.
“You both look wonderful. So healthy. I’m glad you like it here. So do I. Although…” I lower my voice. “Has Reed seemed distracted to you?” I glance up the stairs to make sure he isn’t coming. “Because he has to me. Ever since…”
My shoulders sag as I continue spraying. Detective Field paid us a visit two days ago to tell Reed that they had been able to identify the woman in the video. The woman they believe is also responsible for drugging and assaulting Reed. They didn’t know a lot about her, apart from she had no family they were aware of. And had a clean record.
No one knows why she did what she did. And now she can never be asked. She was found dead in her home the week after she assaulted Reed all those years ago. An accidental painkiller overdose.
All those years Reed could have perhaps had some kind of closure, knowing she was gone and wasn’t hurting anyone else.
My enthusiasm for spraying wanes and I put the bottle away with a sigh.
Reed has been more pre-occupied ever since Detective Field’s visit. He’s been on his phone even more. And I swear I heard a woman’s voice on the other end when he went into his office to take a call before breakfast yesterday.
“Ready, Angel?” Warm lips press into my neck, making me jump. “Hey, it’s just me.” He spins me in his arms, smiling at me as I face him. “You ready to go see everyone before we come back and I give you your birthday present?”
I smile back at him. My birthday is tomorrow, so we are going to see Mom, Brett, and Rose, and stay in the guesthouse tonight. It’ll be the last time we do. I’ve been using the money from letting out my apartment to help Mom pay for the final renovations. What we were short by, Reed has added. Brett will have his own space again soon. Not that he ever complains. But he’s a grown man living with his mom and sister. It might only be down the driveway, but it’s still his.
He needs this.
And hopefully, Rose will find what she needs soon too. Something that will bring her back to us. Bring back the sister I love and miss.
“Are you okay?” I look up at Reed, and I know emotion must be swimming in my eyes because the corners of his eyes pinch and his smile drops as he looks back at me.
“Harls? What’s wrong? I’m fine. Why wouldn’t I be?”
“I don’t know.” I sniff, feeling hot suddenly, and wiping at my cheeks. “Since Detective Field visited, you’ve been acting odd. And you went out of the room to take a phone call yesterday. You never do that.”
“Angel.” His eyes flutter closed, and he rests his forehead against mine. “I’m so sorry if I’ve worried you.” He takes a deep breath and opens his eyes. They burn into mine. “Honestly, what Detective Field told me was a shock at first. But afterward, it was a relief. I know she stopped hurting people. Did you think that was bothering me?”
“Maybe,” I whisper.
His lips curl into a small smile. “Do you want to know what the phone call was about?” I look at him as he pulls his cell phone out of his pocket and brings up a photograph. “She was meant to be a surprise for tomorrow.”
I stare at the picture of a small, copper curled bundle of fluff with two round, shiny black eyes.
“A Cavapoo puppy. And she’s ours.” Reed tips the screen and smiles at the photograph. “We pick her up tomorrow. Natalia helped me find her.”
“You did all this as a surprise?” I take the phone from his hand and stare at her. She’s tiny with paws that look far too big for her, and a bright pink tongue that’s poking out.
A grin plasters over my face. We’re going to be a little family. I can even get her those cute doggy sweaters to wear when it’s cold. And she’ll be able to cuddle up with us on the couch at night, and we can take her for walks, and take photos of her and fill the house with them, and…
“What are we going to call her?” I look up at Reed, beaming.
“She’s already got a name.” He runs a hand around the back of his neck and bites his lip.
Okay, so he’s chosen one. Or maybe the breeder did. But I don’t care. She could be called anything, and I will love her. I can see us together now, little besties, outnumbering Reed and filling the house with feminine energy. I hope she likes pink because I saw a really cute collar in a window when I went for lunch with Suze and Maria the other day. It’s like the universe was already giving me a sign.
“Yeah. She’s called Red,” Reed says.
“Aww, because of her red fur?” I look back at the photo.
“No.” Reed clears his throat. “As in Middlemist Red.”
My eyes go round as I snap them back to him. “You named her after—”
“After a plant that there’s only two of in the world.” He laughs. “You weren’t making it easy for me, were you?”
“Reed Walker! Did you buy us a puppy, just so you could try and have your smutty way with me?” I laugh in shock, my mouth dropping open.
“No… I bought us a puppy because I know you love animals and I want you to be happy. I named her myself so that I could have my smutty way with you.” He grins.
“She’s not a plant.”
“No. She’s better. There are two of them in the world. There’s only one of her.”
I open my mouth to respond, but I can’t. He’s got me. There is only one of her in the world. Just like there is only one of him.
Only one Reed Walker.
Only one love of my life.
A person who I would do anything for.
I chew my cheek as I look back at the photo before handing Reed his phone back. “Okay.”
His brows lift. “Okay?”
“We can do it. I want to. I actually think it might be quite nice. Suze said when she last did it, she squirt—”
“I do not need to hear the rest of that.” Reed pulls me into his arms, kissing away the words on my lips.
I sink into him, reaching up to stroke his hair. “Thank you. I don’t think I’ve ever been given anything better.”
“The promise of anal sex?”
He chuckles as I pull his hair in warning.
“I know, I know. A puppy. She is super cute. Wait until you see her.”
“Yes, she is.” I look between his eyes. “But I didn’t mean her.”
I press my lips to his and kiss him, savoring the way he always kisses me back, no questions asked. I can walk into a room and not say a word. Just go over to him and kiss him. And he welcomes me with open arms. It doesn’t matter what he’s in the middle of doing. He always stops. And it’s not just kissing. I could just be feeling hormonal and want a cuddle. Or want to show him a new animal video I’ve found online. He will always give me his undivided attention.
I am always his priority.
Me. Us. Our relationship.
He does everything he can to nurture it, and to love.
He loves me every day. And every night. And every speck of time that exists in the cracks between.
And I love him right back.
“I mean you, Reed.” I smile. “The man I barely tolerated when he visited my boss at work. Who is now the man I can’t imagine living without. I love you more than ever.”
His smile lights up his entire face. He really is ridiculously handsome. Some days, I stare at him and wonder if the universe knew what it was doing when it created him. When it placed him on this earth, not only looking devastatingly beautiful on the outside, but having a heart and soul that match on the inside.
He’s so much more than I ever imagined.
He catches my lips in another knee-weakening kiss, and I pull him to me, never wanting to let go. He moans as I kiss him back deeply, sliding my tongue into his mouth and losing myself in him. He feels so good in my arms. So tall, broad, and strong.
He thinks I was the one who freed him from the trap of his past. But he freed me too. He freed me from the fear of vulnerability, from believing in someone and placing your trust in them. All the lies and cheating I was surrounded by. The ugliness in people that I saw every night I worked for the honey trap agency. The ugliness that led to Brett’s injury. Reed freed me from that. He showed me how to open myself up to vulnerability and hurt.
Because that’s when you can truly love with nothing holding you back.
He did all that.
It may have been fake in the beginning. But that never was. That was always true. And if I’m honest with myself, I think the rest of it was. My heart knew it was real, even if my head took some catching up.
“I love you, Reed Walker,” I say again as he draws back to look at me.
“I love you too, Mrs. Walker.”
“Unofficial Mrs. Walker.” I bite my lip as I look at him. He’s called me Mrs. Walker from time to time ever since I moved into his apartment.
And it’s felt… right.
“Not for long, Angel,” he says softly, stroking his hands through my hair as he gazes at me. “I’m getting a ring on that finger before you have a chance to change your mind. You’re mine, and I want you trapped with me forever.”
“It doesn’t sound much like a trap.”
“Really?” He arches a perfect brown brow at me.
“Uh-huh.” I place my hands over his chest so I can feel his heart beating beneath my palms. “It sounds more like paradise to me.”
He smiles at me, and I smile back at him, inhaling the scent that is so uniquely him.
Adventure and home.
Adventure for our future together, and everything we will do.
And home because, well, because my heart is telling me so.
Reed is my home. Wherever he is, it’s where I want to be.
He will always have my vote.