It’s finally HERE! I know, right?
I knew the story I wanted to tell, but I also knew that this would giveaway key elements of one of the next stories of the Kings, so I held off on posting it until now. Thank you so much for checking back in to read this special story!
I paced back and forth near the pier going over the words in my head. Running my sweaty palms over my shorts, I glanced up at the brightly lit beach house we’d been at all summer. The sand shifted under my feet with each step. Seagulls cawed overhead and swooped down on unsuspecting visitors on the boardwalk. Vigilance was required when a person got between those flying rats and some tasty food.
“I know what you’re going to say, it’s too soon and we’re too young, but you’re it for me, Books. Even if we don’t get married tomorrow, which I’m totally up for, I’ve even booked a spot at the courthouse, I want you to wear this ring.” I took out the box and balanced it on my palm. Opening the box, I stared down at the glinting stones in surrounded by black velvet. Even in dead of night, this thing could light up a whole house.
She’d kick me in the balls, if she knew about the advance I’d taken to buy this for her, but I happened to know an insanely generous benefactor who’d offered up the money interest free. Colm only requested that he not have to serve as a groomsman at the wedding as a reward. Tough luck, if he wasn’t careful, I might make him my best man.
My stomach was a knotted mess and it had been since I’d bought the ring. A quick trip into Philly under the guise of another guy’s fishing trip had been perfect timing to pick it up. I had no idea how Emmett walked around with one of these back in high school, but he’d never been rational when it came to Avery and definitely not this summer.
“Declan, Avery’s here.” Her voice carried over the gentle ocean breeze and distant roar of the boardwalk rides.
I snapped the box closed and slipped in into my pocket. “How’d you convince her?” Taking a deep breath, I turned around and walked to her.
The hints of red in her hair caught the light from the house behind her and the wind blew it around her face. She fought with the strands of hair, tucking them behind her ears.
“I may or may not have held her car hostage.” She tapped the front pocket of her jeans.
“So devious, Books. I love it.” I rushed up and wrapped my arms around her. “And I love you.” I picked her up and spun her around. Our lips met in that same explosive way that was like always a mix of coming home and exploring new treasure. She tasted like summer and every happy memory to come.
She squeezed her arms around my neck and buried her face in the crook of my neck. Her laughs could save a drowning man. I set her down on the sand and she wrapped her arms around my waist. There was a gentle thud on the sand behind me. She jerked back and peered over her shoulder.
“You dropped something.” She bent down and the world moved in slow motion. My hand went to my pocket where I’d shoved the ring. Empty. Shit!
She crouched down and picked it up with the smile still on her face. With the box in her hand, the pieces clicked into place. She was frozen with her eyes steadily getting wider like she was turning into an anime character.
Her head snapped up and she stared back at me with her chin practically dragging in the sand. I got down on my knee in front of her and her mouth opened and closed.
“What’s this?” Her voice was so high I was sure dogs were howling in the distance.
I covered her hand with mine. “It’s a promise.”
Her eyebrows scrunched down and she tilted her head. I put my other hand under hers and kept her trapped in my Declan hand sandwich.
“A promise?” she whispered, staring at our hands like they were a foreign object crashed to Earth.
“A promise that for the rest of my life, I will do everything in my power and maybe even try to swing a few things they aren’t, to make you happy.”
Her head snapped up and she looked into my eyes. But--”
“But you’re going to medical school and I’m a professional hockey player and there’s no way to know where we’ll be in six months let alone a year?”
She nodded. Her throat worked up and down.
“And you’re going to be working insane hours during medical school and residency and your first few years as a doctor?”
She tightened her hand around the box and tears pooled in her eyes.
“And you don’t know if you’ll have time to come to my games and travel if I make it into the championships? And you’re worried you’ll let me down or fail trying to split yourself in two?”
The tears clung to her eyelashes and her lips tightened. She sucked in a deep breath.
I ran my hand along the side of her face and smoothed her cheek with my thumb. “And you know what, Books? I don’t care about any of that. If you never come to another one of my games, if I only get an hour with you every night before you pass out beside me on the couch because you’re so tired or you need to lock yourself up in the library for a month to prepare for a big exam.
I blinked back the moisture in my eyes and my throat tightened. There wasn’t a life without her. She made everything I did and everything I was possible.
“I’ll give you a play by play of my games while making you dinner. I’ll tuck you into bed at night and I’ll bring you a packed lunch and dinner while you study. There isn’t another woman in the world more perfect for me and I’ll prove it to you if that’s the last thing I’ll do.”
My fingertips rubbed at the back of her neck. “What do you say, Books?” My words were low, barely over the roll of the gentle waves behind us.
Her gaze dropped from me to the box held in our hands. A tremble shot through her hand and I held my breath.
“Well, when you put it like that?” She peered up at me with a spark in her eyes that reached deep into my soul. “Of course.” Wrapping her arms around me, she knocked me over and we fall back into the sand.
I cradled her against my chest. Our chests shook with that giddy laughter that only bubbled up when new beginnings brought you even greater joy. I brushed her hair back from her face.
Her eyes shot open. “Crap, where’s the ring?” She scrambled off me, planting her hand right into my stomach. I let out an oof and rolled over.
“Look at you running for the ring?”
She scrunched her her face and poked out her tongue at me. “I don’t want it to get lost in the sand.” Lifting the box, she dusted off the sand.
I plucked it from her hand and popped open the lid.
A gasp shot through her parted lips and she pressed her fingers against them. “Declan...” There was the warning tone in her voice, the one you go when you were completely prepared to beg for forgiveness instead of asking for permission.
Slipping it out of the box, I held her hand in mine and slid the sparkling ring onto her finger. “I found it in a Cracker Jack box.”
Her lips pursed together, but her cheeks twitched with the smile I’d always been able to draw out of her.
“What do you think?”
She sighed and stared down at her hands. Flexing her fingers, like making them longer would somehow shrink the rink, she looked up at me. “It’s beautiful.”
I slipped my hand back into the box and pulled out a plain platinum band. “And I got you this for when you’re at school and at work.” Light bounced off the highly polished metal.
“Just when I think you can’t possibly surprise me anymore, you find a way. It’s perfect.”
“But you only get this one.” I wiggled the ring between my thumb and pointer finger, if you promise me you’ll wear that one whenever you can.”
She wrapped her arms around my chest and buried her head in my chest. “I will.”
Lifting her chin, I brought my lips down on hers. The first kiss from my fiance and of our future together.
I ran my thumb along her chin and she slipped her hand into mine. The cold metal of the ring and stones poked against my fingers. I could get used to that.
“We’d better get back in there. I don’t want Avery trying to hitchhike back to Philly.”
The blow out party Emmett had planned was in full swing. The perfect engagement celebration with all the Kings here, well once Emmett arrived.
We climbed the small dunes on the edge of the beach and right onto the patio of the beach house we’d rented.
Colm came out and handed us both a beer. “Emmett just got here.” He took a sip and stared up at the house like it might be the scene of a murder.
“How’d he look?” I squeezed Mak’s hand tighter.
“How do you think?” Colm said over his shoulder.
“Let’s get in there.” Mak took a determined drink from her bottle. We made it onto the front balcony on the main floor of the house when the sharp yelp heard three blocks away nearly deafened us.
“You’re engaged!” Liv rushed over to us and grabbed onto our clasped hands.
“How the hell did you even see that?” I massaged my hand from the death grip she’d had.
Liv held up Mak’s hand and examined her ring like a trained jeweler. “It’s gorgeous. Great job, Declan. Mak, I’m so happy for you!” She squeezed Mak tight around the waist.
Mak laughed and hugged her back. “Thanks, Liv. Did Emmett come in?”
Liv dropped her arms from around Mak’s waist and turned toward the hallway past the kitchen. “He went out there.” She pointed toward the closed door.
Like her words unlocked a magic spell, the door creaked open.
“Everyone act natural.” Someone shouted.
We all scrambled to not be gawking at the open door.
I wrapped my arms around Mak and we slow danced to music only we could hear. The music of our hearts and the life we’d create together. The perfect life because it was ours.
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These two!!!! I love Declan and Mak so much! They were the two that introduced the Kings to me. Through them I’ve learned so much about the people in their lives that they love and gotten to know them so well. I hope you’ll spend some more time with the Kings too! You can also download a copy of this extra special scene, if you’d like to have it for your e-reader.
Heath and Emmett’s stories are waiting for you…
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Ready for some more Kings? Heath’s off limits lover story is LIVE! READ RECKLESS KING NOW!
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Ruthless King is HERE!! Emmett and Avery are lighting up the pages with their fiery second chance, enemies-to-lovers romance!
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Have you read the FREE Prequel, Kings of Rittenhouse?! If not, grab your copy today!