The Dare(81)

By: Rachel van Dyken


"Knew what?" I whispered.

"I knew I wanted you. I knew I wanted to marry you. I knew I wanted to spend my life watching that smile, gazing into those eyes. Then again, I was only sixteen and stupid, so I can't totally blame it on love at first sight. We'll just call it lust. I wanted to touch you so damn bad that my hands were shaking."

I shuddered as he moved his hand to my neck and rubbed softly. "I promised myself that I'd dance with you. I'd ask for your name and that would be that."

"But you kissed me."

"I couldn't help it," Jace whispered, brushing his lips across mine. "You tasted so good. I was hooked the minute my mouth met yours, and then I panicked. Again, I was sixteen, so let's give me a little credit. I didn't want to get the shit beat out of me by the other football team, so I left."

"You walked away." I sighed dejectedly.

"I came back," Jace argued. "But I never made it."

"What do you mean?"

Jace closed his eyes. "Remember when we jumped off the cliff?"

"Yes, I thought you were dying."

"And you almost did a belly flop."

"Jace…" I warned.

"Fine."

His warm chuckle made my stomach flip.

"When you kissed me, for some reason, it jolted a memory, one I'd forgotten until now. My dad, who, by the way, can give Grandma a run for her money any day, told me what really happened that night. I ran home, told him I'd found the girl I was going to marry, and quickly got into my car and drove headfirst into another vehicle after running a yellow light."

I gasped, putting my hands over my mouth as the tears welled in my eyes.

"You see…" e smiled sadly, "there was this pretty girl with bright green eyes that I really wanted to see again. I wanted to kiss her and tell her how gorgeous her dress was. I wanted to apologize for being an ass, and I wanted to tell her just how good we would be together, if she'd only give me a chance." He swallowed, his Adam's apple bobbing. "Instead, I woke up three months later from a coma."

Warm tears slid down my cheek.

"So here's the thing, Beth. Your whole life has been based off thinking you didn't have a charge, assuming guys weren't into you, wrongly assuming I had walked away — when the very opposite was true. I almost died trying to get to you, and the truth?" His voice shook. "I would go through it all again, as long as I knew you'd still be waiting for me on the other side."

With a sob, I threw my arms around his neck, letting the tears spill over my cheeks. "You could have died!"

"But look," Jace squeezed me tight, "I'm right here. And I'm waiting."

"Waiting?"

Jace pulled away and, with a grin, took off his long black trench coat, revealing a tux. "For the last dance we should have shared. For the moment that was taken. I want a do over. Because, maybe, in this cold senator's chest, there's a heart hat believes in second chances, and quite possibly the fairytale."

"You're re-creating prom?"

"Kind of," Jace winked, "minus all the lusty teens with acne. I hadn't really planned on dancing with you in a hospital."

Tears streamed down my cheeks as I took his hand and started swaying with him.

"I'm sorry," I said, wrapping my arms around his neck, holding on for dear life. "I'm so sorry."

"You did nothing wrong. Hell, all you did was look pretty, and I was lost."

"And then I opened my mouth, and you wanted to smack me?" I teased.

"Nah," Jace's gaze turned serious, "you opened your mouth, and I fell in love."





Chapter Thirty-five





"Sorry." Grandma dabbed her eyes. "I just love that part." She blew her nose loudly and shook her head. "It seems true love finally does win in the end, doesn't it, Gus?" She stood and yawned. "Lovely talk. We'll have to do it again sometime."

"Sit."

"But I told you everything I know."

"Sit. Now."

Grandma rolled her eyes but sat.

"The ending. I need to know where this story ends, because where this story ends tells me where you end. In prison? Or in the free world."





Jace





I would be content holding her for the rest of my life. It had taken me awhile to work out the kinks. After all, taking more vacation? After being gone for a week? It wasn't sitting well with people, but I'd worked my ass off the last fourteen days, so I could do this with her, so I could go to Seattle and sweep Beth off her feet the way she deserved.

I was planning on staying until she relented. I went as far as to buy a Thor costume in hopes it would sway her plan. If that didn't work, I was going to have to resort to wine, and lastly Benadryl.

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