Clarice admired John…in both definitions of that word. I’m easily the luckiest woman in the entire world. The world is such a big place and there are so many people in it. And so many of those people are women. So, my luck must be absolutely phenomenal to outrank all of the competition.
But I really am that lucky.
Because here I am sitting next to John Addleston and he loves me. I’m engaged to this fabulous, drool-inducing hunk of a man. Some day in the future, we’ll be married. I will be the honorable Mrs. Clarice Addleston.
She tapped her index finger against her lips. Hm. I could theoretically go for a hyphenated last name: Clarice Vansing-Addleston. It’s a bit of a mouthful, but it does have a good sound to it.
John smiled at Clarice. His aura seeped out. It rippled along his edges, outlining him in constantly shifting red and blue. It even outlined his entire jawline.
She lowered her finger. Nope. No hyphenation needed. I want to be his. Just all his. She leaned into his space. Her seatbelt pressed against the side of her neck, but she didn’t care about that right now. “I love you, John Addleston.”
He unbuckled his seatbelt and leaned the rest of the way towards her. “Clarice…” He kissed her.
Clarice reveled in the gentleness of his kiss, in the feel of his lips on her lips, in the smell of his aftershave, in the softness of his hands on the side of her face and on the side of her neck. She felt so warm and so secure. Nothing in this world could hurt her. Not while he was touching her like this and kissing her like that.
They mutually ended the kiss, but neither pulled away. He looked into her eyes and said in a husky tone, “I love you too.”
Just goosebumps all over her arms and prickling her scalp. “I really am the luckiest woman in the world.”
Sarah closed the book. The scene had played out the same way it had before and would play out again. But it was still so thrilling and satisfying. It would always be that way for her. She was certain of it. There was no way that she would ever read that scene and find it predictable or boring or dull. How could she? How was that even possible? The emotions and stakes were so heightened in that whole scene. It was sublime.
She couldn’t wait to hear Ambrose read it out to her. He would do an amazing job. She knew that for a fact.
Sarah hugged the book before setting it on the seat. After some worried thoughts, she covered the book with a convenient towel that happened to be on the floor. She spread it on top of the book with careful deliberation, trying to get it covered without drawing attention to the fact that there was an amazing treasure hidden underneath.
Finally satisfied with her clever camouflaging technique, she leaned forward and tapped John’s shoulder.
“Yes?” he said.
She pressed her finger against the middle of her chest before pointing at both John and Clarice. She then pointed straight ahead at the clothing store right in front of them.
“So, you’re ready to go inside and get some new clothes?”
She wanted to eyeroll about that question. Seriously? What else would those gestures mean? But she didn’t want to give him the wrong impression. So, she simply nodded and repeated the gestures.
He smiled. It was a very nice and genuine smile. It was not a fake kindness like Antioch’s had been. She had hated that so much about him. Fortunately, as Carthage’s project, she had very limited encounters with Antioch’s awful fake smile.
But Carthage hadn’t been any better.
In so many ways, he was worse than Antioch had been. But maybe he was also the same. But also maybe it didn’t matter.
Carthage was gone. Sarah had rejected him as her father. So, he had left. He was gone.
She didn’t think he would ever come back.
She didn’t want him to come back.