Dedicated to my favorite avid reader, Rachel.
MEGAN MELTED RIGHT INTO him, her breasts crushed into his chest as the kiss continued. At that moment, he wanted to lead her back to the truck, strip her out of the clothes that separated them, and make love to her. Every fiber of his being screamed at him to do just that, but rational thought swept in and he couldn’t. Instead, he tore his mouth from hers.
Megan moaned and rested her forehead against his chest. Her heavy breathing making it worse as his body hardened and every thought drifted to hearing her calling his name while he made Megan his for the first time.
“We always get so close…and you pull away,” she muttered.
Corey slid his hands down her back, his mind searching for the right words to say. He couldn’t deny the fact because it was true. The intense kissing and light petting always left him wanting more and the more it happened, the harder this all became. He needed to make sure her first time was perfect, not in a car, but in a bed, and special so she’d always remember it as something good. This wasn’t the first time she’d commented on it and coming up with constant excuses was getting harder with each passing day as they spent more and more time together.
Megan took her tiny fist and hit his chest, light, no power behind it at all, just a tap, but her frustration would be hard to miss. “That’s what you always say. I’m beginning to think that there is something really wrong with me.” She twisted out of his arms and stepped away from him.
Corey sighed and raked a hand through his hair. He didn’t want to screw it up, yet here he was, doing just that.
“There is nothing wrong with you.”
“You know, I put Grace out of my mind, thinking it was just a one-time thing, no big deal. We weren’t together, it shouldn’t matter, but I’d bet money that if she were here with you right now, you’d have no trouble dragging her to the ground and sleeping with her again.”
The words cut like a knife and made him jerk back as if she’d struck him. Corey closed his eyes for a moment, searching for the words he needed to fix this before it went any further.
“There’s only one problem with that theory.”
Megan spun around, crossed her arms over her chest and waited.
“Grace Grayburg wouldn’t be here. I’ve never brought anyone up here, not even Anna.”
He heard the audible gasp and his heart pounded as he relaxed a bit, knowing he struck a chord with her.
“That only makes me feel a little bit better,” she muttered. “You brought me to your special place, shared that with me, but still you keep me at a distance. You don’t let me in. You only let me in so far, only to the point that you don’t have to make a promise or commitment to me.”
Corey’s jaw dropped as the words sunk in. Over the past few months, he tried to make Megan see just how he felt about her. Needed her to know what he wanted from their relationship and what being with her meant to him. All this time, all the time they spent together, and she still didn’t know. He’d done a bang-up job, because she couldn’t see it, didn’t
recognize it. That had to change, she had to realize what he wanted, where he needed this relationship to go.
Without a second thought, he dropped to his knees. “Marry me, Megan.” Corey reached his hand forward, waiting, hoping beyond hope that she would step forward and agree to be his wife.
If the last gasp were any indication of the shock from before, the ragged intake of breath this time beat the other out by tenfold hands down.
“Get up,” she said, her voice carrying a hint of laughter.
His heart plummeted, and had he been standing, he might have fallen over. A lump formed in his throat, one he fought hard to swallow, but he remained where he was, on his knees, his mind swirling like a pinwheel, remembering her laughter when he professed his love for her.
“I’m serious, Meg. Marry me.”
She moved forward and dropped to her knees before him, joining him on the thick grass. “Why? It’s a little sudden don’t you think? Not to mention that you have a drinking problem, and still live at home.”
“I don’t have a drinking problem. I’ve been drunk only a handful of times in my life.”
“Corey, I love you, but…” she shook her head.
“You have a tendency to run towards the bottle when things get rough, and each time, you end up doing something stupid in the process.”
Her hand came forward and stroked his cheek, and although he wanted to get lost in the tenderness of her touch, take her soft hand, kiss it and pull her down on the ground next to him, he couldn’t. It was as if in one swift moment, his steady world tilted on its axis. Everything around him felt off-kilter, shifted and made no sense.
COREY PULLED AWAY FROM her touch and the warmth slipped away as he rose to his feet. She closed her eyes, knowing that one word had brought their fun night to an abrupt halt. The proposal couldn’t have been serious. Her mind scrambled to replay the last few minutes, his words rushing back through at warp speed making her almost dizzy. He proposed, and she said no. Oh, my God, Corey Brady asked me to marry him and I said no! That thought caught on a loop and replayed in her mind until she had to cover her ears and shake her head to make it stop. She had to get a grip. She did the right thing. Didn’t I? The timing couldn’t be worse. She was scheduled to leave for New York in two days, Corey was busy on the ranch, and they still had issues between them, things that could make or break their relationship. Feeling his disappointment, she began to wonder if maybe she was overreacting or just finding excuses.
She hated that he wouldn’t sleep with her, and every time he pulled away when they came close was like another jab at her inexperience. How am I supposed to gain experience when everyone keeps me at arm’s length and treats me like a child? Everyone save for Joe. The mere thought of losing her virginity to him, not to mention having no clear recollection of it, made her stomach queasy and she took a deep breath just to try and make the churning stop. He said he was serious, and she knew he wouldn’t just toss something like that out there if he didn’t intend to follow through. Megan got to her feet.
“Corey, I love you. I’m not going anywhere. I don’t need a ring to make love to you. Don’t you get it?”
He stepped forward and pulled her into his arms. “I can’t do that, Meg, not to you.”
What did that mean? What’s wrong with me? “Oh, but you have no trouble sleeping with other women? What makes me so different? Why am I not good enough?” she demanded, squirming out of his embrace as anger shot through her. “Just what can’t you do to me? Have sex with me?”
Corey reached for her, but she sidestepped his hand. “Megan, please.”
“You better come up with some kind of explanation, or else you can just take me home.” Fury stayed with her, images from the dream with Joe flashing before her eyes. She had to drive those thoughts out of her head, but the longer it took him to give her an answer, the worse it got. The silence was never comforting and as it continued to grow, she decided and headed to the truck. If he couldn’t talk to her, she’d just go home and ignore him until he had something worthwhile to say, something that made sense. She thrust the door open and climbed inside, waiting for him. She watched as he made his way to the truck and got in behind the wheel.
He clutched the wheel but had yet to say a word. Finally, he turned toward her. “Megan,” he said, barely above a whisper.
She waited, hoping he’d enlighten her, but when he said nothing more, she crossed her arms. “Take me home, Corey.”
He started the engine and reversed the truck, heading back to the winding road that had led them to his favorite spot. Megan’s mind raced, wishing they could go back to when they first arrived here before things got dicey between them and the silence festered making this an impossible situation. She didn’t have anything else to say, and it appeared he didn’t either. One beautiful night ruined by something that should have made it even better, by a night that could’ve been magical and bonded them together for a lifetime.
HALFWAY TO HER HOUSE, Corey slammed on the brakes, making Megan reach out for the dashboard to prevent her from hitting the windshield. She turned to him and scowled. “What did you do that for? Are you trying to kill me?”
“No. Marry me, Megan. If you say yes, then I will give you everything you want.”
She gawked at him, the words playing around in her mind. “I want you, Corey. I want to make love to you. To give myself to you.”
“Then say yes,” he said, reaching out to stroke her cheek.
She wanted to, with every fiber of her being she wanted to say yes, to be his wife and share her life with him, but she knew even if she did say yes, he would still make her wait. What if they made love on their wedding night and it was a disaster? What if he realized she was no longer a virgin?
“If I say yes, are you still going to make me wait?”
He sighed, and his silence confirmed her suspicions.
“Megan,” he began.
“Just forget it.” She pulled away from him and slid as close to the passenger door as she could get, her heart aching something fierce.
“Damn it!” Corey yelled.
“Look, I know I’m not as pretty and sophisticated as Grace Grayburg, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be a good wife to you someday. You don’t even have your own place, Corey. Where would we live? With Dex? Your parents? You haven’t thought this through. I want to take this relationship to the next level. I want to know what it’s like to give myself to someone completely, and I want that someone to be you. So, if that’s not enough for you, if I’m not good enough for you, then tell me now so I can move on with my life.” Tears burned her eyes as thoughts of him letting her go slammed through her. She couldn’t believe she’d said those words aloud. To him!
“All right,” he whispered.
Megan gasped and turned to him, wondering if she heard correctly, or if he said something else entirely.
“What did you say?”
Corey laughed. “I said all right. You win, but the only way we are sleeping together is if you say you’ll be my wife, which you haven’t done yet.”
Happiness rushed over her and she threw her arms around his neck. “Yes. Yes, I’ll marry you.” Megan peppered his face with kisses, excitement blazing through every inch of her body as thoughts of becoming a real woman raced into her mind.
Finally, she was going to have this cowboy in every possible way.
Corey took her arms and pushed her back. “Good, now that that’s settled.”
He got the truck moving again. Megan suspected they were going to a motel, or back to the ranch so they could find a soft spot for this occasion, but instead, Corey Brady drove them to the preacher’s house in the middle of the night. Megan couldn’t believe her eyes when they pulled up in front of his house at two o’clock in the morning. It was insane! She didn’t care about a big wedding but getting married in jeans was not her idea of a wedding either. Not to mention no friends or family either.
“You can’t be serious,” Megan uttered. He laughed again. That deep throaty laugh that she loved to listen to.
“Oh yes I am,” he said, reaching over and pulling her close. “You will be my wife when we make love for the very first time tonight.”
His mouth captured hers, in one swift movement robbing her of breath. His tongue slid into her mouth, searching, demanding and insistent, in a way he’d never kissed her before and she melted right into him. Megan’s body caught fire, the desire that took over had her willing to do anything he asked of her, not that she would resist anyway. She wanted him, and at that moment nothing else mattered.
He broke the kiss and opened the door. “Are you ready, Miss Evans?”
Megan could only nod. He grabbed her hand and pulled her right out of the truck with him, taking long strides to the door of Pastor Brooks’ home. Corey rang the bell and squeezed her hand, holding on so tight, as if she might disappear.
The lights came on in the house and Pastor Brooks opened the door looking from Corey to her and a slight smile took over his full, round face. “Corey is everything all right?”
Corey nodded, “Yes, sir. We need your services.”
“Well come on in,” he said, opening the door wider and letting them pass.
Megan followed Corey inside, butterflies taking flight in her stomach as the realization of what was about to happen hit her full on. Excitement danced with uncertainty and she had to take a quick breath just to steady herself.
“I’m sorry about calling so late, but we couldn’t wait,” Corey began. “We’d like you to marry us. Tonight.”
Pastor Brooks turned his attention to Megan. “Well, Megan, is this what you really want?”
She found it funny that he wasn’t concerned if it was what Corey really wanted, only her. Megan nodded, looking at Corey once more and noticing those dark eyes shining brightly. All her dreams, everything she ever wanted was right within reach. How could she say no?
“All right then. Let’s go to my office.” He led the way toward the back of the house, where lights were still glowing. The room was big, with one desk, and a bookcase that took up an entire wall. Bible verses were framed and hung on the walls, as well as one large picture of Venice, where the water led to a church with a beautiful blue dome that matched the sky.
Corey and Megan sat down across from the Pastor as he pulled out some papers and began filling them out. He asked a few questions, but nothing seemed to register. The only thing that Megan could remember was that she was going to be Mrs. Corey Brady before morning. Pastor Brooks got his wife and eldest son to be their witness’. They took their vows in that room, the short ceremony flying by so fast she could hardly remember saying I do.
When he asked for the rings, Megan gasped, but Corey didn’t miss a beat. He took the ring from his finger, and slipped the bulky metal onto hers, whispering that he’d buy her a real ring later. Megan’s head swirled, and her focus stayed on what was to come, what it would be like to make love to him, to be naked in front of him for the very first time. It wasn’t like he hadn’t seen parts of her body before, to be fully naked would be something completely different. Corey gave the Pastor money for services rendered and swore him to secrecy, stating that they wanted to be the ones to let the family know. Pastor Brooks agreed and showed them to the front door, while Megan found it difficult to concentrate on anything.
Her body moved, but her mind was in a fog.
“Thank you all so much,” Corey said.
“You’re very welcome. Congratulations to you both,” the pastor's wife said, her voice thick with amusement.
Corey headed to the interstate and hit the first hotel they came to. Neither had spoken on the drive and as he pulled into the parking lot, Megan became nervous. It was all happening so fast, like a dream, yet she knew it was real. She gazed down at her left-hand staring at the gold band with the letter “B” etched into it, knowing it was all the proof she needed.