I slid into the loo and was beginning to close the door when a hand reached out, stopping me.
“There’s barely room in here for me,” I whispered, putting a hand on his chest.
He stepped forward anyway, deftly swapping our positions so my back was to the door.
“Just . . . give us a second,” he said to the bewildered flight attendant.
Sliding the door carefully closed behind me, he lowered the lid on the toilet before sitting and looking up at me.
“What in the bloody hell are we doing in here?” I asked.
He took my hands, staring down at them. “I don’t want you to walk away from me after I tell you I love you.”
“I’ll be sitting next to you on the entire flight,” I countered lamely.
He winced, shaking his head a little. “Pippa . . .”
“I came home from Boston and was miserable,” I told him. “I quit my job, moved back home, and set about making my life something I would want to rejoin after vacation.”
“I couldn’t decide if you ruined me, or . . . or found me,” I said. “I went on dates”—he winced again—“and didn’t enjoy any of them.”
“I haven’t been out with anyone since you,” he said.
He laughed. “Not even her. It wasn’t a sacrifice.” He reached up, cupping my jaw and staring directly into my eyes. “And maybe Hanna and Will would say that’s par for the course, but I did date, before. I just hadn’t met you yet. You’re the most beautiful person I’ve ever known.”
He was looking at my face when he said this. And he hadn’t said anything about my hair.
If he’d noticed that it was lavender, he’d given no indication. He didn’t even do the casual—but obvious—scan of my bracelets stacked up my arm, or my chunky necklace or my red combat boots.
And I think that’s when I knew. I was done for. Those thickly lashed green eyes; the smooth, flushed cheeks; the hair he’d let grow long enough to fall over his brow; and now, the way he saw me for me, not as a series of eccentric parts and bright colors . . .
My brain tried one last argument. “You’ve come to London for the grand gesture because you’re lonely.”
Jensen studied me, reaching with one hand to thoughtfully scratch his jaw. “It’s true.”
The two short words hung heavily between us, and the longer they lingered, the more I realized he could find someone else if it was only about wanting companionship.
“It’s too late?” He stared up at me, lips slowly pulling into a skeptical half smile. “I feel like we haven’t really had a chance yet. We were both trying to make it casual last time.”
“I don’t know what to think about all of this,” I admitted. “You’re not the impulsive type.”
He laughed, taking my hands. “Maybe I want to change things a little.”
“Before . . .” I began, gently, “you really only wanted me when I was convenient.”
Jensen looked around at the tiny bathroom we were crammed into, on the flight he had booked only to see me. His argument was superfluous, and we both knew it, so he looked back up at me and grinned. Playful. Relaxed. Exactly the man I knew on our wine trip. “Well, here we are. Not exactly convenient,” he added with a teasing smile. “And I love you.”
The words burst out of me: “I’ve slept with a lot of blokes.”
I felt my heart reaching out, trying to claw its way out of me. “What if I don’t get a job in Boston?”
“Just like that?” I asked, my heart a mass of flapping wings in my chest.
“It isn’t exactly ‘just like that,’ ” he said, shaking his head. “I’ve spent the last month being miserable and debating every reason why this doesn’t make sense. The problem is, there are no more compelling reasons remaining.” He ran his index finger across one raised eyebrow. “I don’t care about the distance. I’m not worried that you’ll leave me without explanation. I don’t care that we’re such different people, and I’m not worried that my job will get in the way. I won’t let it. Not anymore.”
I felt the air around us go still, and the tiny space seemed to shrink further. “You what?”
His smile was tentative and sweet. “I haven’t told anyone yet. I . . . I wanted to tell you first.”
But being so close to him and feeling this crushing hope was terrifying.
“Pippa,” he said, looking up at me, “do you think you could love me, too?”
He stared up at me, unspeaking. It wasn’t cockiness in his eyes, and it wasn’t defeat, either. It was some surety, deep in his heart, that told him he wasn’t wrong about us.
I know how hard he had worked to trust his emotional compass, and I would be damned if I extinguished that trust.
“If I said that, you would know I was lying,” I said.