I work my way through the rest of my dates, but I'm only there in body. The boys usually give up after the first hour; it's difficult to have a conversation all by yourself. My ratings plummet, but at least my air-time is minimal now, I'm not offering much in the way of entertainment these days.
Zane looks pensive, and then his lips twitch. 'They say most girls end up marrying a guy just like their dad.' 'Oh God ... That's so lame, ' I say, spluttering as coffee dribbles down my chin. 'I believe it's a tried and tested theory, ' he says, standing up and wiping my chin with the back of his hand. I jolt at his touch. 'Now it's a theory? I thought it was a saying? Next you'll be telling me it's a fact.' I flop back down on the couch. 'Empirical evidence shows that sixty-eight percent of girls marry a guy who displays similar personality traits to her father... ' His voice trails off as I shake my head. 'What?' he asks, his palms open and raised. 'You really need to get out more. Where'd you glean that interesting nugget? The desperate men's journal perhaps?
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No offense, doll, but that's not something I'm willing to share. I'd prefer to live a long and happy life if it's all the same to you.' 'You can't just throw out vague allegations and then say nothing else!' 'See, that's the good thing about being a fugitive like me. I can do what the hell I like, and I'm not answerable to anyone.' Stepping away from the bars, he stands with his legs stretched out wide. His stance matches his grin. 'Sure looks like that's working out well for you, ' I say, piercing him with a scornful look.
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Shunting closer, I snuggle into his chest, soaking up his fresh woodsy scent. His arms encircle me and pull me close. 'You always smell like home, ' I whisper under my breath. Smooth, soft fingers tilt my chin upward, and I'm startled when my face meets his. Tears glisten in his eyes as he looks at me adoringly. Pressing his forehead to mine, he kisses me sweetly, his lips making brisk tantalizing sweeps across my mouth. 'My heart is your home, ' he whispers, his voice breathless. 'It always will be.
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I'm already under the covers when he comes in. I watch as he takes off his shirt and jeans, and climbs into bed beside me. On any other occasion, the sight and feel of his near naked body would send my blood pressure into orbit, but I'm so exhausted by the events of today that I'm incapable of feeling anything even close to desire. And he doesn't ask anything of me.
For the first time, with complete clarity and absolute conviction, I know I love him entirely with all that I have, everything I am, and who I'm going to be. Of course, I've told him before, but not like this, not with the fierce swelling of love and fervent determination that I feel ebbing and flowing inside me, as vital as the air I breathe. Before-when I said it-it was borne out of immaturity, or necessity, or maybe just plain old lust. Now I radiate with the veracity of my love and this newfound truth that we really are meant to be.
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We made a pact the day you left for Novo-I know you don't remember that, but I do-and I'm holding fast to our promise. To never give up hope. And I have hope, because I know that deep-down, hidden within the innermost fragments of your heart is the love you feel for me. I know it's still there, waiting to be reclaimed. When it comes to you, no amount of time spent waiting is a waste.
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Do you fancy catching a movie at the Sturbridge Theater tonight? That new Robert Pattinson movie is showing, ' I ask her, the phone cradled against my chest. 'Definitely sign me up for that!' Ari replies, chuckling as I mock scowl. Her easy laugh warms my soul. 'We're in, ' I tell Gil, arranging to meet him and his date in the diner later. 'So, who is it this time?' Ari asks, resting her chin in her hands. 'Anyone we know?' Considering I can count the girls on one hand who have enjoyed more than one date with Gil, I doubt it'll be someone familiar. 'I didn't ask; guess we'll find out soon enough.' 'Five bucks says it's a blonde, ' Ari quips. 'That's one bet I'm not taking, ' I admit, twirling a lock of her hair around my finger. 'Gil's penchant for blondes is world-renowned.
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I can feel Ari's mounting excitement the farther we walk. She's bouncing up and down like a kangaroo on speed. I feel the bulk of the box pressing against my leg as we walk, and I contemplate all that I've decided to tell her tonight. Lifting my head, I stare in awe at the light of a thousand stars illuminating the dark, night sky. The setting really couldn't be any more romantic, any more perfect.
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