“I'm ready to start climbing if that's what you're asking me.”
His eyes shift between mine as he angles his head slightly. There's a long, agonizing silence while he studies my face. “All right,” he finally spits out.
“All right,” I repeat. “All right what?”
“All right let's do it. Let's bring you on as a design consultant.”
“Are you serious?” I ask, my voice growing in volume as he smirks.
“Yes, I'm serious. I think it's a great idea. Your father loved what you did with that wall on Belmont. Just imagine what you could do if you had more time to really think about it.”
“Oh my God, Oliver! I'm so excited! I wasn't sure what you would say, but this is awesome!” Throwing my arms around his neck, I kiss him all over his face. “I can't believe you're saying yes to this.” My lips move down his cheek and across his chin, placing frantic happy kisses.
Oliver grabs my face in his hands, holding me still so he can look me straight in the eyes. “I'm not saying yes to this, I'm saying yes to you.” He runs his thumb across my bottom lip. “I'll always say yes to you.”
“I love you,” I blurt out before I have time to stop myself. I can't help it. It's what I feel inside and it's so strong I can't ignore it.
His whole body stills from his eyes to his hand. His thumb freezes on my lip, his eyes motionless.
Oh no. What the hell did I just do?
It's too soon! I said it too soon!
I wish I could take the words from the air and swallow them back down so he’d never heard them. But I can't. They're out there, and now I don't know what to do.
“I. . . I'm. . . I'm sorry,” I stutter, fumbling my words and trying to reverse course. “I didn't mean it like that. I just mean—”
He throws himself upright, slamming his lips against mine. “You mean it. You just got to say it before me. So, I'll just say it louder.” Oliver sucks in a big breath of air and belts loudly, “I love you!”
My neighbor who shares a wall, bangs against the sheet rock. “Hey! Keep it down!”
Oliver and I look at each other, then start laughing hysterically. I'm laughing so hard my eyes are actually tearing. I feel amazing. I'm ready for this fresh new chapter of my life.
My stomach tumbles with nervous flutters as the thought of failing or being rejected tries to find its way in. “I know this might be hard, but I'm ready.”
“Time to fly little bird,” Oliver says.
Smirking, I say, “Must our only options be to squawk and settle or never leave the nest?” He quirks a brow, and I can see the confused look on his face. “Forget it.” Waving a lazy hand, I glance away. “I'm a bit of a geek, if you haven't noticed already. I'm not perfect, but no one is.”
Oliver sits up in the bed, reaching out and brushing his hand down over my hair. “Just because something is not perfect, does not make it any less worthy of love.”
“Is that. . .” Holding up my finger, I spin it in the air. “Is that a quote from Bridgerton?”
His smile thins as he shrugs his shoulder. “Maybe.” Oliver chuckles, his eyes moving to my fanart. “I might have binge watched it to try and understand you better. Thought it could give me a little peek into who you are.”
“You did really did that?”
“I want to know you in every way. I want to see you for you.”
I kiss him instantly. He's stolen my heart. I'm his. I was his the second he laid eyes on me.
And he was mine, it just took me a little longer to see it.
Six months later
“Hey,” Hardin says as he comes into the workshop. He kicks the door with his foot to shut it, same as he always does.
I take a second to look up and give him a quick smile. “Hey, how's it going?” I ask, letting my eyes drop back down to my drawing. I'm half listening as he talks, doing my best to pay attention and concentrate.
He lays his work belt across the saw table then walks over to me and leans against the wall. “You do know Oliver is looking for you, right?”
“He is?” My eyes flick up, and Hardin nods. “Did he try calling me?” I pick up my phone off the table and check it to see if I have any missed calls. I didn't hear my phone ring at all, but maybe I’d been so into my design, I just didn't notice my phone going off. “I don't have any messages or missed calls.”
“All I know is there's a new client Oliver is talking to and he needs you to come talk with them about possible designs.”