Forever in Cape May

Page 57

She recognized the shock, but it was the other emotion she saw in his eyes that hit her deep: pride.

The man sitting across from her had always believed in whatever she wanted to do. The sheer joy and pride reflected in his gaze were the confirmation of a love she didn’t know if she was strong enough to deny any longer.

Because she loved him right back.

“I knew it,” he whispered fiercely. “I knew you’d do it. Taylz, you’re going to be rich and famous.”

They sat in that café, gripping each other’s hands and laughing full force, drawing a bunch of looks from other patrons and the French waiters. Pierce lifted his hand and motioned them over. In clumsy French, he asked for the best bottle of champagne they had, and they toasted to her success.

As Taylor drank her bubbly, her heart filled with both excitement and regret. Because as she was finally reaching her lifelong dream, she was letting a different one go.

Chapter Twenty

The window was open, and a warm breeze drifted in, fluttering the cream curtains. The faint sound of French music faded in and out, along with the occasional chatter of Parisians as they strolled back and forth on the street below. The lamp was dimmed, and the room was shrouded in darkness. The luxurious satin sheets were a tangled mess around their limbs. They lay naked together, her head on his chest, her fingers stroking his face.

“We’re not meant for this, you know.” Her hand dropped to rest on his upper arm. “Us.”

He pressed a kiss to the sensitive curve of her shoulder, letting his teeth sink in. The shudder caused a rush of satisfaction. She was so responsive, never hiding a reaction or the animalistic need in her eyes when she wanted him. If only it was just that.

Sex. Want. Lust.

Instead, it’d become so much more. He loved her. Wanted to claim her as more than his buddy or lifelong friend. He wanted to officially date and be exclusive and not hide their relationship. He wanted to try. But did she?

Pierce knew she was falling just as hard. It was in every look and touch and kiss. Those few seconds when she’d caught sight of him at the art exhibition, he’d seen the naked love in her eyes. He didn’t doubt her feelings any longer.

But he doubted if she wanted him enough to risk it all.

“We’ve done pretty good for ourselves so far,” he said lightly. Her nipple pebbled when he teased the peak with his lips. Her fingers clutched him tighter. “Best friends since high school. An easy transition to lovers. We’ve done all the hard work already.”

Her pink hair fanned out on the pillow when he gently pushed her back. Her lips were swollen, her skin warm and flushed with razor burn. “What happens when the bubble bursts?” she asked at the same time she lifted her arms to welcome him closer. “I’m probably staying in Paris. I’ll find out tomorrow what Luis thinks is the next step.”

He hated the touch of guilt in her voice. He’d never think of changing her mind. His feelings may have morphed to something bigger than they’d imagined, but this was her time and her opportunity. He wouldn’t let her blow it over guilt for leaving him back home. After all, it was his choice to stay in Cape May. But these past weeks, he’d realized he had his own dreams to pursue. He just hadn’t known exactly where they’d lead him.

Until now.

He’d been playing it safe for long enough. These past months of feeling a bit lost and unsatisfied suddenly made sense. All this time, he’d wondered if he was limiting himself by staying in Cape May. But being with Taylor these past few days had made him realize he’d been wrong all along. It wasn’t about the place.

It was about the person.

Taylor Sunshine was his true home.

Once the thought took form, a sense of peace and acceptance overtook him. He finally knew all the answers. He’d live in Paris. Explore the countryside and people. Steep himself in the culture and fill up his well. And be with the woman he truly loved.

Pierce opened his mouth to tell her, then shut it. No, it wasn’t the right time. She needed to talk to Luis and focus on the next steps that would be best for her career. But afterward, he’d present his plan and how they could move forward as a couple.

“We’ll work it out. And as for us not being meant for this, I’ll have to disagree.” With one quick movement, he parted her thighs and slid inside her hot, wet channel. She gasped, her nails digging into his shoulders, and he swallowed the sound with his mouth. “I think we fit perfectly,” he whispered, keeping his thrusts slow and controlled.

Sweat dampened her skin, and she pressed her heels into his ass, urging him on. With each jerk of his hips, he pressed a gentle kiss to her face, dragging her right to the edge and keeping her there with a ruthless precision.

“We were always meant to fit like this.” He increased the pace, and she sank her teeth into his bottom lip as her body shuddered. “No one will ever fit me like you, Taylor Sunshine. Now come for me.”

She did, crying out his name. He studied each beautiful feature as she broke apart, committing this moment to his memory. And as he orgasmed, spilling his seed and holding her tight, he swore everything was worth it for this—no matter what happened.

It was only after she was sleeping that he uttered the words to the empty, dark room. “I love you, Taylz. I have always loved you, and I always will.”

He listened to her steady breaths. It was hours later when he finally fell asleep.

Chapter Twenty-One

Taylor sat next to Luis in his office. They perched on the leather couch. Two cups of espresso sat on the breakfast tray. He’d brought in croissants, thin slices of cheese, and an array of jams. The air was full of delicious smells like coffee, wood polish, and lemon.

A giant desk was near the window, and the decor was luxurious yet masculine. Thick wine carpeting, a stately black chandelier, and mahogany cabinetry filled the space. Normally, she’d be a bit intimidated, but she’d already spoken at length with Carter and her sisters last night. Carter reminded her that although Luis was a businessperson, he was more interested in helping talented new artists rather than turning a large profit. Luis held long-term relationships with the clients he’d helped, and Carter trusted him.

They discussed the terms Luis might offer and helped her flesh out what would work for her, and what deals to avoid. After doing some additional research, she felt more confident in her negotiation skills.

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