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I pull the pictures up on my computer and go through the finished product of each. After a final run through, I bundle them and send them off to my newest client.
Sitting back in the chair, I let out a deep, satisfied sigh. The end of the first week of having my own photography studio leaves me exhausted, elated, and intensely excited.
I am just reaching back to the computer to shut it down when the bell on the front door rings. My head snaps up and I grin. Claude waltzes through the door, locking it firmly behind him.
He is truly a thing of beauty. No picture I’ve ever taken of him has done him justice. And that’s saying a lot because I am good, very good. But Claude’s utter sexiness is only partly due to his incredible good looks. It is also owed to his demeanor, his stride, his confidence, and his bone-deep kindness.
“Hi,” I say, tipping my head up.
He takes my hands and lifts me out of the chair before wrapping his arms around me and pulling me in for a searing kiss.
“Are you going to take me out to celebrate?” I ask, fiddling with the collar of his deep wine-colored shirt.
“Yes. We’re going to a very fancy restaurant where we will meet up with my entire family.”
My eyes are wide. I love Claude’s family, but I wasn’t expecting this. “Oh.”
“Yeah, see, they want to celebrate with us. Not just the first week of your business, but something else as well.”
I cock my head. I’ve written everyone’s brithdays and anniversaries in my calendar and I don’t remember today being special for any particular reason. “What else?”
“I’m going to ask you to marry me.”
I manage to remain standing. My arms lock on his neck and I stare, open-mouthed, at his handsome face.
“But I didn’t want to risk you saying no. So I thought I’d discuss it with you in private first.” He winces. “If you loosen your hold on my neck a bit, sweetheart, I’ll get down on one knee.”
“No,” I say, my voice sounding like a clap in a quiet room.
His face falls. “No?”
“No! I didn’t meant that kind of no!” I am frantic. “I meant, don’t get down on one knee. Jesus.” I press my forehead against his chest and breath hard. Then I look back up and gaze into his eyes. “I want you right here at my level.”
“Okay.” He sounds unsure, and it is both charming and sad.
“I’m sorry. Can we…”
“Start over?” he suggests.
I shake my head.
I nod and grin like an idiot.
Claude pulls an incredible ring out of his pocket. He pries my left hand off his neck and holds it in front of him as he slips the ring on. Then he kisses my hand and pulls it to his heart. “So, is that a yes?”
He holds my gaze, waiting with infinite patience.
“Yes, Claude. I’ll do you the great honor of being your wife.”
Interested to read the full novel Janice appears in as a side character? You can pre-order "Don't Let Him Go" here.
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