“Yeah,” he murmured with a small smile. Then he kissed my eyelids. “I know exactly what you mean. And that’s why I really need to show you something.”
I sniffed, blinking at his serious tone. “W-what?” This didn’t sound good. At all.
“Do you remember Lake Tahoe?” he asked.
I sucked in a breath “You got the job?”
Oh God. He’d gotten the job and was going to leave. Against my will, more tears fell.
He wiped them away and shook his head. “Not that part. Do you remember when we got really drunk on the beach, and how Zwinn told us they had to stop us from going to that walk-in wedding chapel and getting married?”
I wrinkled my nose and frowned. “Yeah?”
“Well...I think we might’ve snuck back over there later...after they fell asleep.”
I blinked. “What?”
Oren lifted his hip and reached into his back pocket to pull out his wallet and unfold it. With trembling hands, he pulled a sheet of paper free and handed it to me. “I found this in my luggage after we got home.”
He handed it to me and watched me from worried eyes as I unfolded it.
I stared at the document for a full minute before pointing at it. “This is a marriage license.”
Oren blew out a breath. “I know.”
Eyes widening, I stuttered a second before blurting, “This is our marriage license. Oh my God. Is this real?”
“Yes. I called around until I got a hold of someone in some courthouse in California. We were legally fucking married that night.” He slipped the license from my limp hand and carefully smoothed it open flat.
“Oh my God,” I uttered. “We’re married.”
He blew out a cheek full of air. “Yeah. Pretty much.”
Panic flooded me. He watched it fill my face. Grasping my shoulder, he silently urged me to look at him, even though I couldn’t focus too well.
“We were drunk,” he started in a calm voice. “We can annul it, no problem, if that’s what you want. This doesn’t have to impact you at all.”
“If it’s what I want?” I repeated incredulously, shaking my head. “But what about you? What about what you want?”
“I...” His gaze bored into mine. “I’ll respect whatever decision you make.”
Stunned speechless, I shook my head. “But what if I don’t want to annul it? Would you respect that?”
A slow grin stole across his face. “Hell, yeah.”
My mouth fell open. “Holy shit, you don’t want to annul it, do you? You...you want to stay married to me.”
“Kind of,” he answered with a shrug.
“Kind of?” I laughed outright. Oh my God. I was married, and it looked as if I might stay that way.
“Kind of...a lot,” Oren murmured into my ear, pressing his nose against my cheek.
Even though a giddy warmth stole through me, I shook my head. “But I’m only nineteen. I’m—”
He took both my hands. “We don’t have to be traditional. Fuck, the very word gives me hives. We can take this slow and any way we want to. We can keep on how we are now for a while if that’s what you want.”
“You mean with me living with Noel and you staying with Zwinn?”
He shrugged. “Sure. Whatever you want. I mean, I’m sure Gamble’s had enough of a shock for one day. We can keep this under wraps for a while until we’re ready to deal with it.”
“What about a ring?” I asked, starting to really get into the idea.
A grin split across his face. “Do you want a ring?”
“Kind of.” Then I smiled big. “A lot.”
He pulled me into him and kissed my hair. “Then I’ll get you the biggest damn ring I can afford.”
“Oh my God,” I gasped. “We’re really married. We’re—oh my God, wait. What about Lake Tahoe? Your interview. You—”
“I didn’t get the job,” he said immediately.
My shoulders fell because I didn’t already know this. “You didn’t? Why didn’t you tell me?”
He glanced away. “You weren’t exactly speaking to me at the time, so...”
I took his hand, feeling like an absolute bitch for staying away as long as I had. Sure, it had hurt to learn everything I’d learned, but I’d asked to hear it. I’d...I was just a total bitch. “I’m so sorry.”
He shook his head, unable to look me in the eye. “No, it’s fine. They, uh, they had someone else in mind, I guess.”