“We haven’t skated in years.” She wobbled and righted herself. “How dare you look so good doing this.”
With a snort, he caught Rosie around the waist and tucked her into his side. “I look good? Honey girl, I was just thanking God I’m the only man here.” He shook his head. “Christ, you’re the most beautiful woman on earth.”
“Thank you,” she whispered, swallowing through a veritable heat flash. “Last time, my father was here watching us, remember?”
“Remember?” he returned drily. “I was innocently trying to keep you upright and he thought I was copping a feel.”
“Innocently.” She raised an eyebrow. “Sure.”
He winked. “Come on, now. I was the perfect gentleman.”
Rosie hummed, letting Dominic turn her in a circle on the ice. “My father called you Octopus Hands for a year.”
Dominic’s head tipped back on a laugh. “He did, didn’t he?”
“Yes. And it was well earned.” They skated in the direction of the water, and the sounds were so soothing. The breeze, blades on ice, her husband’s voice. “He was wary of you right up until the day of the snowstorm.”
He shivered and squeezed her closer. “Don’t remind me.”
She ignored his gruff request. “Sophomore year, wasn’t it? They dismissed school early because of the blizzard and I never made it home. The snow was too thick to see my hand in front of my face. I had to wait it out in the pharmacy, but the power lines were down so I couldn’t call anyone.” Rosie tugged him to a stop at the wall of the rink and cuddled into his warmth. “You searched for me for hours. Almost gave yourself hypothermia.”
“Found you, though, didn’t I?” Dominic said quietly, cradling her cheeks and sinking toward her for a kiss. “I’d still be looking if I hadn’t. I’d look forever. You know that, don’t you?”
“Yes.” She slid her hands into his coat and settled them on his stomach, fingertips tucking into his waistband. “You’ll always love and protect me. Through everything, I never lost faith in that. Not for a second.”
He made a sound and pulled back, seeming to gather himself. “Good.”
Dominic went down on one knee and pulled a ring box from the pocket of his coat—and Rosie almost collapsed.
“Rosie Vega, marry me again.” His voice had a deep resonance that rivaled the power of the water stretching out behind them. “Please give me a chance to do better this time. I don’t want to start over—there’s no way to do that when I’ve already loved you for a millennium. I just want to start stronger.” He opened the box to reveal her mother’s wedding ring, except the missing stones had been replaced. Rosie’s hands flew to her mouth and she started to shake, overwhelmed by love for this man. Her husband. “Hell, we know I can be selfish when it comes to you, honey girl. I want you to commit to loving me again in front of God. I want to lock it down.”
“You have,” she wheezed, her words muffled by her palms. She dropped her hands away from her face. “You have my love already, but I’ll give it to you a second time. Yes. Yes, Dominic. Let’s get married again.”
He started to stand just as Rosie stooped down. They collided and toppled toward the ice, Dominic catching her in his arms before she could hit. Her husband’s panicked expression sent Rosie into a giggling fit, and after taking a few recovering breaths, Dominic joined in. For what seemed like hours, their laughter bounced around the skating rink in rich echoes that reminded her of the past, the future. Reminded her of them.
Rosie had everything. Her soul mate back.
Her dream coming true.
It seemed like nothing could go wrong.
Rosie turned in a mid-living-room pirouette, a stack of laundry on her hip. There were definite perks to being temporarily unemployed. This morning, she’d slept late and taken a bubble bath. After that, she’d met Bethany at an indoor antiques mall in Farmingdale and found some perfect pieces for Buena Onda. A shabby chic chandelier for the center of the dining room, a vintage chalkboard for the specials, Spanish-style doorknobs for the bathrooms. Deciding on the smallest details put big, whopping butterflies in her stomach, especially knowing that Dominic, Stephen, and Travis were spending their spare time making repairs and remodeling the restaurant space to her specifications.
Earlier that week, Dominic had surprised Rosie by taking her to the Brick & Morty office, where she’d sat on his lap while Stephen drew up a blueprint. God. She’d never felt more special in her life—and every day, she believed more in her ability to command a restaurant. She could do this. The way she walked felt different. Her voice was stronger, full of conviction. No one was doing her any favors. They really believed in her dream.
Rosie continued to the bedroom and dropped the stack of laundry on the bed, plopping down beside it and sighing at the clock. An hour until Dominic got home from work. He would be dusty and grimy. Which of course meant she’d be forced to strip him naked in the bathroom and bathe the poor man. Such was her lot in life.
She squealed inwardly and glanced down at her new engagement ring for the thousandth time that hour. There would be no recovering from that proposal. Days later and she still risked floating to the moon every time she thought about it. How lucky was she? Most people didn’t find their soul mates during their lifetime. She’d found Dominic twice.
The kitchen timer went off, and Rosie went to check her Chipa. She’d been experimenting with several recipes in the last few days, determined to nail down a short, tasteful menu, and Dominic was not complaining. He’d been going to the gym every morning to work off the food she fed him at night. When she’d scratched Dominic’s inked abs and mentioned she would love him even if his stomach wasn’t made of corrugated steel, he’d scoffed.
“Told you, honey girl,” he’d drawled, pushing her down onto the couch and unzipping his pants, dragging his tongue across his lower lip. “Not going soft when I’ve got a ten at home.”
An hour later, she’d had to apply Neosporin to the scratches on his back. He’d done the same to the rug burns on her knees.
They had a unique marriage.
“Wouldn’t trade it,” she murmured, taking her Chipa out of the oven, coaxing them from the pan, and setting the cheese-flavored rolls on the cooling rack. She took a knife from the drawer and carved off a small piece of one roll, popping it into her mouth—and threw her hands up in victory. They were perfect.
Having mastered one of her menu items, Rosie got the sudden urge to look at the restaurant blueprint. Just to remind herself this was happening. It was real.
Dominic had left the big rolled-up plan on top of the kitchen cabinet, and she retrieved it now with the help of a step stool. After moving the napkin rack and some bills out of the way, she unrolled the blueprint—and stopped.
“What’s this?” Rosie murmured, running a finger over the slope of a roof. It looked more like the blueprint for a house. That theory was bolstered by the typed address at the bottom of the page. It was located in Port Jefferson. Instead of taking the restaurant blueprint from Stephen’s office, they must have grabbed the plan for one of his flips.
Rosie was getting ready to roll the paper back up when she caught Dominic’s name at the very bottom, alongside her own. Homeowners.
She double-checked the address, positive she’d never been there.
What was this?
A weird shift happened under her feet. As if she’d been speeding along on a moving walkway at the airport and then stepped right in molasses. For over a week, everything had moved forward at such a rapid pace. Maybe she’d been in desperate need of some easy happiness. Some positivity. Because she hadn’t really stopped to think of the how.
How could she own a restaurant?
How could Dominic replace the stones in her mother’s ring?
The building materials seemed expensive, but she’d assumed they were left over from a flip. Or . . . donated.
Rosie swallowed the growing lump in her throat. She memorized the address on the blueprint and walked like a zombie to her car. Maybe the dread tickling her gut was unfounded, but something told her to go see the house. So she tugged the car keys out of her purse, got in her Honda, and drove . . .
When Dominic arrived home and Rosie’s car wasn’t in the driveway, he battled his disappointment. She’d probably gone down to the restaurant to check the progress, and he needed to get used to coming home from work and not finding her there. It wasn’t the first time since she’d moved back in that he’d returned to an empty house. And while he always counted the minutes until she darkened the doorway, Dominic found it wasn’t as hard as he thought to wait for his wife. Whenever he got the urge to get back in his truck, drive into town, and fireman-carry her home, he remembered her face when she’d become the owner of her own restaurant. He thought of the light that danced in her eyes every time she said Buena Onda.
Rosie had attained something she’d wanted her whole life. He’d worried he would be resentful of the restaurant consuming her time, but he only found himself feeling . . . lucky. Lucky as hell. He’d won back the love of his life and handed her the keys to her dream. The trust was rebuilding between them—and she couldn’t keep her hands off him.