By: Leslie Kelly

The one his father had tried so hard to get home to.

Tears were spilling from Viv’s eyes now as she imagined the years he must have spent, wondering why he’d had to lose his father, and his grandfather, and be left with a parent who didn’t seem to give a damn about him.

“I’m so very sorry, Damien.”

“Me, too,” he said, holding her hands. “But honestly? Sylvia did me a favor. I’d been worried, you see.”


“About whether I could really ever love anyone. I had never witnessed any evidence of love growing up. Now I understand why—my father was in love with someone else, and his wife could never forgive him for it.” He shrugged. “There’s nothing wrong with me at all.”

“God, of course there isn’t!” She slid her arms around his waist holding him tight. “You are one of the most loving people I have ever met.”

She should know. She’d been the recipient of that love even before she recognized that it existed.

“So you’ll come back with me? Everything’s going to be fine with the business, and the team,” he said. “I have the best lawyers in the country—Neeley won’t get anywhere with his threats, and he’s going to be behind bars for many years.”

“To hell with him, with everything else,” she said, smiling up at him. “Yes, I will most definitely come back with you.”

He hesitated, drawing a deep breath, and then asked, “As my fiancée?”

Viv’s heart skidded around and her mouth fell open. Before she could respond, Damien had reached into the pocket of his stiff jeans and pulled out a small velvet box. Flipping it open with his thumb, he revealed an amazing, beautiful ring. An enormous sapphire was at the center, surrounded by smaller sapphires and diamonds.

“We can exchange it for a more traditional one, if you’d prefer.” He sounded hoarse. “But diamonds are icy. You are warm and vibrant, colorful. And this reminded me of your eyes.”

She held out her hand, unable to speak, watching him slide the ring onto her finger. It fit perfectly—in fact, it was perfect in every way. Exactly what she would have chosen for herself.

“So?” he asked. “Will you marry me?”

“Oh, yes, my love,” she whispered, kissing him softly. “I’ll definitely marry you.”

Then, knowing he loved his vixen, she had to teasingly add, “But only if you wear that costume downstairs to the party. I want my parents to meet you dressed just like that.”

He grinned. “Can we tease up your hair and put you in a pair of black leather pants?”

“I’m fresh out.”

“Well,” he said, reaching for the waistband of her skirt, “you’ll just have to put on something else to make it up to me.”

“What would that be?”

He unzipped the skirt and pushed it down, stroking her hips as he leaned close and whispered, “Me.”

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