She sniffled and wiped away a single tear. “I’m afraid you’ll get bored with me. We’re so different. I . . . I’m not as experienced or adventurous. I could be, but I don’t even know how.”

My chest felt lighter than it had in weeks. I took my first deep breath since the moment I found out Lila Kate was missing and why. “Are you serious?” I asked taking a step toward her.

“Do you have any idea how perfect you are for me?”

She shook her head this time.

“There has not been one time in my life I didn’t think about my future and see you in it. Your face was always there. Your voice in my head when I was doing the wrong thing. Those eyes would haunt me even when I was passed out drunk. You have been with me every moment of my life. Even if I didn’t want you there, my heart held onto you. My soul found its mate when I was a kid. I might have fought against it but the connection was made. It always will be.” I took another step toward her. “You can hate me. You can never forgive me. You can tell me to leave and not come back. But I’ll love you forever. That won’t change.”

She sniffled again. “Does that mean you’ll sit outside like some stalker watching me?”

Lila Kate closed the small distance between us and put her hands on my chest gently this time. “That doesn’t leave me any choice then does it.”

“Are you going to get a restraining order?” I teased.

She smiled then. The big beautiful smile that had been making my knees weak for as long as I could remember. “That’s an option,” she replied. “But I think I’ll go with option number two.”

She stood on her tiptoes and pressed a kiss to my jawline. “To love you the rest of my life.”

I held her face in my hands and stared down at the woman who would always be what made me whole. She was my center. Loving her had destroyed me. The old me was gone. The careless, selfish man I’d been was no longer there. I wanted to be good enough for her. And I would be. I would be the kind of man my father was. My life had purpose.

All because of Lila.