I told myself I wouldn't mention marriage for fear of scaring her off, but I don't see fear in her eyes. It's something entirely different and it gives me hope—hope that she might have me as her husband.

She's doing that thing again where she's searching my face. I think she's looking for a clue as to what's on my mind so she'll know how to respond. "Umm…those sound like some pretty big plans Margaret has for me."

That is such a Laurelyn move. She answers me without answering me, and I recognize that as her signature defense mechanism. She's using it because she's afraid, so I owe it to her to take the first step. I love this woman and I can do it for her if she needs me to.

There was a time when she was able to bare her heart and soul to me, and I'll make sure she trusts me that way again.

"Laurelyn, I never expected to love you but I do…with every fiber of my being." She breaks into a huge grin when she recognizes my use of her words from the letter she left for me. "I've spent the last three months learning how me without you feels, and I've hated every minute. I never want to do it again." I reach for her hand and lace my fingers through hers. This isn't me proposing—because I want that to be something unforgettable—but I'm going to tell her how much I want to marry her one day soon so we can talk about our future and how we'll compromise to make things work. "I want…," I start but I'm interrupted by my mobile ringing—Margaret McLachlan's ringtone. Her timing couldn't be worse and she'd keel over if she knew what she'd just prevented me from doing.

"Who'd be calling you this time of night?" I wasn't planning to take my mum's call because I don't want this time interrupted, but I hear the suspicion in Laurelyn's voice and know I'm left without a choice. I have to take Mum's call so I can put Laurelyn's unease to rest. It has no place between us.

"It's my mum. She doesn't always consider the time change between Sydney and Nashville." But I know the real reason behind her call. She knew I was going after a big lead tonight to locate the woman I thought was Laurelyn. She's checking in to see if all is well.

I slide out of bed, completely naked, to retrieve my phone. Laurelyn props up on one elbow to watch me cross the room. "That's a mighty fine view I've been missing."

"I'm going to show you some other things you've been missing too," I laugh before I take Margaret McLachlan's call. "Hi, Mum."

She cuts straight to the chase. "I know it's late where you are, but I couldn't stand it. I have to know if you found her."

"Yes, Mum. She's with me now."

She squeals like a child. "Oh, that's wonderful news—exactly what I was hoping to hear. Are things going as you hoped they would?"

This is Margaret's code for asking, without actually asking, if we're making up for lost time. "They were."

"I interrupted whatever you were doing?"

"Indeed you did."

"Son, if you stopped to answer the phone, then you weren't doing whatever well enough and you need to get back to her and do it better. Don't answer the phone next time."

Damn. I just got zinged by my mum. "I'm gonna let that one slide, old girl. We'll call you later when we're finished doing whatever."

"Please do, because I want to know everything." She can forget that. "I love you, son, and I'm so proud of you. I won't ask to talk to her now, but please tell Laurelyn how happy I am and that I miss her terribly."

"I will and I love you too."

I end the call and silence my phone before I drop it on the couch. There'll be no more interruptions from that little noisemaker tonight.

I return to bed and slide in next to Laurelyn. She doesn't hesitate in scooting closer to put her head on my chest, wrapping her arm and leg around me. "I presume Margaret is pleased?"

"Yes. She's satisfied with me for the first time in months. She asked me to tell you how happy she is and that she misses you." I thought she'd lose her mind when we figured out that finding Laurelyn wasn't going to be as easy as originally thought.

"I miss her too and I'm glad she's so easy to please."

Easy is a subjective word. "I don't know that I'd call her easily pleased. I'm certain her preoccupation with Em being pregnant again is the only thing that saved me from getting my neck wrung."

Her face lights up in a way that I only see when she talks about babies. "Aww, Emma and Evan are having a third. When?"

"She's not due until mid-September but she always has preterm labor and delivers about six weeks early, so we're predicting sometime in August."

"She told me they were finished having babies," she laughs.

"They were but they had an oops." As soon as I say the word oops, I realize my mistake because Laurelyn was an unplanned pregnancy.

"Then this baby and I already have one thing in common."

I feel like such an arse. "I'm sorry. Oops was a bad choice of words. He was a surprise, one that they are both very happy about now."

She quickly gets that glow back. "It's a boy?"

"That's what they tell us."

"Two girls and a boy. That sounds like a perfect little family to me."

I remember her saying she wanted at least two. "You think three is a good number?"

Hmm. Three. I never even saw myself with one until a few months ago. Now, I have to get used to the idea of three. But I can and I will for Laurelyn. If she wants three, then that's how many she'll have.

I wake from the best night's sleep I've had in months, and it's because my beloved is by my side. I didn't wake in a panic and reach out for her in the night only to find her side of the bed empty. In fact, I don't recall waking at all until this moment.

I feel like a trellis the way Laurelyn's wrapped around me. It's a first because she hates being touched while she sleeps. She has always insisted on having her space, preferably while she is lying on her stomach with the covers riding low to expose her lower back.

Although I lie perfectly still, it's as if she can sense my brain waking and her eyes flutter open. When I see her caramel eyes staring back at me, I can't stop the smile that spreads across my face or resist kissing the top of her brunette head. "Good morning."

"Why, yes—it is a very good morning indeed. And it'll get even better if you'll give me a second in the bathroom."

She gives me a quick kiss on the mouth and I think she's going to jump up for the bathroom but she doesn't. Instead, she strokes her hand along my jawline. "I've missed feeling the roughness of your face against my skin in the mornings, but this is even better than before."

That's all it takes for me, reminded of our early morning naughties, to get ready for what I want to do to her. "Don't linger in the bathroom for long or I'll come in after you."

She has that look in her eye—a challenge—daring me. "You wouldn't."

I grab her hand and bring it down to wrap around my cock so she can feel how hard it is for her. "You better believe I'll be busting through that door in two minutes if you don't have your sweet arse back out here."

"Then maybe I need to work on this before I get out of bed."

She slides up and over until she's on top of me. I feel her warm breath beneath my ear where she's kissing my neck. "Do you like it when my mouth is on your neck right here?"

"Yes." And I do because she knows exactly how to hit that sensitive spot with her tongue.

"Good. I like it too."

She takes her time migrating down my body and stops when her mouth is in the center of my stomach. She scrapes her nails down my chest until she reaches the small patch of hair below my belly button. "Do you like my tongue here?"

"Yes," I hiss through gritted teeth because her fingers have wandered over to the ticklish spot on each side of my groin. She flattens her tongue against my stomach and drags it in one slow, upward motion and then drags her fingernails down through my happy trail. "But this isn't really where you want my mouth right now, is it?"

"No." It definitely is not the place I'm craving her lips most.

"Tell me where you want my mouth."

I reach for my cock and stroke it under her chin in a come hither motion. "Baby, I'm dying for it to be all over this."

"Please don't die. You wouldn't get to enjoy this if you did," she says. A naughty grin spreads across her face as she goes down.

I feel her tongue sweeping over my tip and my body shudders involuntarily. I think I've grown more sensitive to the feel of her wet tongue while we've been apart. "Baby, that feels so damn good."

The curtains are pulled closed but there's a crack where they meet, allowing the proof of morning into the room. The daylight peeking through illuminates the room just enough for me to be able to see Laurelyn and the motions of what she's doing—sort of.

Her hair has fallen forward, blocking my view, so I reach down and gather her long brown locks into a fisted ponytail on the back of her head. Mmm. That's a beautiful sight.

I hold her hair in one hand and massage the back of her neck with my other while she performs what can only be described as an oral pole dance on my cock. That's my girl. Her body slides up, down, and around in a beautifully sexy way on a pole; her mouth does the same during a blowjob.

"You don't have a clue how fucking hot you look when you're doing that." She lifts her eyes and makes contact with mine. And that winds it up for me. I'm a goner. "I'm about to come," I warn her in case she doesn't want me to go in her mouth. But just like always, she keeps going. "Fuck," I groan as I release. "You give amazing head."

When she's finished, she inches up my body and makes a show of licking her lips. I can't resist asking, "Still tastes like chicken?"