The glistening diamond on Kate’s finger kept her distracted. She could not stop staring at it. Although it was on the ring finger on her right hand and not her left, it still stood for something special.
Bruce was full of surprises and had gifted it to her at his own birthday party. He was like that, in love with making her happy. What woman would not want a man like that?
Twirling the jewel around her finger, it was a reminder of the commitment that she and Bruce made to one another. He promised to love her all of his days and she did as well. The love between them was not the issue.
Kate walked a tightrope between love and career on a daily basis. Being the CEO of her own fashion consulting company as well as a thriving boutique left her with little time for anything leisurely. During the past year of their relationship, Bruce had also picked up more work as well. He was a private consultant in the accounting sector, which took him on trips to meet with various clients.
When they first met, Bruce had not immediately won her over, although it did not take long. He had walked in to her boutique, looking like a deer frozen in headlights. Every time she thought about that moment, it made her chuckle. He was completely out of his element, which was why he came to her to get some help with finding the right apparel to wear for a fundraiser gala.
After his fitting, he’d invited her out to have a bite to eat. An innocent meal resulted in interesting conversation and allowed Kate to see that she had more in common with the cowboy boot, jeans, and ten gallon hat wearing gentleman that she bargained for.
Bruce’s chosen sense of style was in stark contrast to the swanky city apartment that he owned. Kate wondered for a moment why a man that had such rugged looks would live in such a contemporary abode.
She soon found out that Bruce had once been an accountant at a Fortune 500 company and he had in fact done some consulting as well and that, along with his investments had made Bruce Stanger a billionaire.
To this day, Kate did not understand why he had gone back to consulting. It was not like he needed the money. And with him constantly complaining that she was working all of the time, it seemed odd that he would go back to the very thing that would take him away from home when he longed for a more conventional lifestyle.
The ring was not quite an engagement ring, more like a promise ring. Kate was not exactly ready for engagement and marriage and it was not because she had not found the right man. She found the perfect man in Bruce and it was obvious, just the thought of marriage itself was terrifying.
She held her promise ring and the promise he made to her dear. And she knew what the next step was. Bruce wanted to settle down and into a life with Kate and he was making it known more and more day by day. Soon, he would be proposing and she needed to prepare herself for it.
Real life was not like the movies. In the movies, the woman would gush over her proposal, crying and full of joy as she gladly accepted the proposal. Her beau would be on a bent knee in front of all of their family and friends and he would pull out a velvet box when everyone least expected and profess his undying love for his woman. When her proposal came, she was not sure if she would be overwhelmed with happiness or filled with anxiety about her future.
She knew that buying the promise ring was his way of allowing her baby steps. Bruce knew Kate well enough to know that asking her to marry him straight off would cause her to back away from him. She was happy that he gave her the promise ring. It let her know that they were going in the right direction. If she could just have a little time to adjust to the idea of forever, it would be even better.
“You’ve been up all morning twirling that ring around your finger. A penny for your thoughts.”
Kate rolled over. “I had no idea that you were awake.”
Wrapped in the blanket, she scooted her body a little closer to where he lay.
“One of the joys of my day. I like to lay here next to you and watch you sleep. You are so peaceful when you sleep.”
Kate smiled, still groggy. “Are you trying to say that you prefer me quiet?”
Bruce gently stroked her hair on her forehead. Lightly planting kisses on her temples and then her cheek, “No, not at all.”
“Of course,” she giggled.
Lying there, snuggled in his arms, it felt natural and as if she was where she was supposed to be. He held her tightly against his chest while running his hands through her hair. Early morning had become Kate’s favorite time of day. It was the time when she and Bruce were alone and calm in their own space and it was just the peace she needed to start her day. She had grown to appreciate the way he brought such serenity into the life.
“I want you to know that I saw the wedding magazines you have stashed in the bathroom.”
Kate sat up quickly. At first, she thought about trying to make up a reason why she had the magazines, but decided against it.
“I just thought that it would make sense to start looking at dresses. I mean, just in case.” She tried to shrug it off.
A gentle hand touched her shoulder. “It’s okay. I did not know that you were ready to even discuss weddings and marriage and such.”
“What woman do you know that doesn’t like to nose dive into a world of wedding dresses and bridal mania? I don’t know. You know how much I love fashion. I thought it would not hurt to take a look. That’s all.”
Bruce inched closer to her, wrapping his arms around her. “Why can’t you just admit that you are this much closer to considering marriage?” He held his pointer finger and thumb pinched together.
“I think we are good taking our time.”
Soft kisses trailed from her arm up toward her shoulders. “Take all of the time you need, my love. I’m here. I’m not going anywhere.”
The touch of his lips against her skin was enough to make her want to stay there in bed with him all day.
“You are trying to distract me and make me stay here in bed with you all day.”
Those steel blue eyes stared at her. “Is it working?” he asked with a sly grin.
Biting her bottom lip, she considered doing so. “Almost. I would love to, but I need to get to work at the boutique this afternoon.”
Bruce crawled slowly over her body. “Are you sure that there is nothing I can do to convince you to stay with me just a little longer?”
It was damn near impossible to resist the man. His fingers left a trail of fire on her skin, making her want him more and more.
Kisses set her body off, and she could no longer resist his advances. He nuzzled his lips in the cradle of her neck, the very spot he knew would encourage her to give in to him. Her legs spread involuntarily and he knew just when she was ready to accept him.
She shifted her hips, making sure Bruce had full access to enter her. When he did, a feeling of bliss settled over Kate. Feeling his hard body against hers was a complete turn on.
“How does that feel?” he asked as he slowly stroked her.
Kate silently nodded, unable to verbally respond as she felt him plunge deeper and deeper inside of her. He gripped her, pulling her closer and closer into his embrace. It felt as if he wanted to melt in to her.
Their bodies made their own music, sweet melodies of love. Kate was completely lost in the moment as Bruce patiently commanded all of her moods and emotions. Just as she was coming close to climax, it felt like he was reading her body’s language and he worked harder to bring her to her release.
The quick interlude was exactly what she needed to start her day. With a stretch, she rolled over, completely satisfied from her lover. She kissed him on the lips.
“I now think that I have the energy to start my day,” Kate teased.
“Oh really?” Bruce asked.
“We should make it a point to do that every morning.”
An eyebrow raised, Bruce opened his mouth to speak, then stopped abruptly.
“Go ahead, you look like you have something to say,” Kate prompted.
“We can,” he blurted out.
“We can, what?”
“We can do this every morning. We can, if you move in with me. Or we can find a place together. I just want to make sure that I wake up to you every morning, Kate.”
Now it was Kate that was stalling for the right words to say.
“Kate, move in with me.”
Heart racing, Kate was unsure of whether she should answer immediately or give Bruce’s question some thought.
His gaze penetrated her, and she knew that she would have to give him a response very soon.
“Come on, Kate. For once, just do what is in your heart. Stop thinking so hard.” Bruce took her by the hand.
“Close your eyes.”
She paused, wondering where he was going with the conversation.
“Seriously, Kate. Close your eyes.”
She sighed, doing as he asked.
“Okay, now. Kate Walker, let’s move in together.”
She could feel him squeezing her hand, and that, along with his comforting presence, was reassuring.
Her heart swirled and her mind was fighting, forcing a tug of war between the two. Bruce was right. She needed to stop over analyzing each situation and just go for what she wanted.
“Yes?” Bruce’s response was more of a question to reassure that he heard her correctly.
“Let’s move in together.” It was worth repeating so that Bruce knew that she meant what she said.
“You have just made me the happiest man in the world, Kate.”
She relaxed in his embrace, knowing that she had made the right decision. He was the right man for her and there was no reason why they could not take their relationship one step further.
Bruce planted soft, feathery kisses on her neck, still holding her close. “This is so right, Kate. We are perfect for each other.”
“I know,” she replied. “You and I are perfect together. Thank you for being so patient with me.”
“I told you that I would wait forever for you.”
Kate heard the words, but she was not sure that in reality, the man of her dreams would wait an eternity for her to accept his proposals.
“I think you have kept me in bed too long. It’s time for me to get dressed for work.”
“Fine. I guess I have to let you go.” He leaned in for a kiss, and she accepted.
“I have money to make today, thank you very much.”
She rolled out of bed, without a stitch of clothing on, knowing that Bruce’s eyes would be glued to her.
The hot shower felt wonderful, and it gave her time to think. Moving in together would not be such a bad thing. The two of them spent so much time with one another, that it only made sense. If he was not staying over at her home, she was staying over at his apartment. They spent the majority of their free time together and woke up next to one another every day that they were in town together. In the past year, they had created a comfortable rhythm that worked.
Making things between them more official was going to be great for their relationship. The more she thought about it, the better it felt.
By the time she stepped out of the shower, the scent of bacon and coffee floated into the bedroom. Bruce was a great cook and he always made sure she was well fed. It was a great compliment to the fact that she was no kind of cook at all. The kitchen was not her domain and she never claimed it to be.
She scanned her closet, never feeling like she had anything to wear. It was a casual day today; three consultations and she would spend the rest of the day at the boutique. Kate settled on a pair of vintage denim pants and a white button down collared shirt.
The smell of breakfast pulled her out into the front room.
“What did you cook for breakfast? It smells amazing.”
“Pancakes, bacon, and a little coffee.”
She took a seat at the bar counter. “I was not even aware that I had any ingredients to make pancakes.”
“That, my love, is why I am the cook. Sit down. Eat.”
He pointed to the seat where a fully made plate of breakfast sat waiting for her.
“What is this?”
A small black box sat next to the plate.
“Open it,” he urged her.
Kate could not wait to unwrap the package. She pulled the ribbon and took the top off of the box.
“Bruce, you spoil me.” A pair of princess cut diamond earrings shined brightly.
“I saw them and they just called out for a new home.”
“Where would you have been that you would have happened to see a pair of diamond earrings?” she teased.
“My little secret.” He flipped the last pancake and turned off the stove.
Before digging in to the breakfast, she put the earrings on.
“Bruce, you always make me feel like a princess.”
He popped a piece of bacon in his mouth, smiling. His expression made him look like a young mischievous boy.
“Those look amazing on you. Next, I have to convince you to wear some good old cowboy boots. You have on my uniform today.”
Kate looked down and noticed that she did have on what Bruce called his uniform: a crisp, white button down shirt and a pair of jeans. He always paired the outfit with cowboy boots and usually a ten gallon hat. Despite the fact that they lived in Los Angeles, Bruce was the requisite cowboy. Raised on a rather large ranch in a more rural part of the state, Bruce had not let go of his roots despite living in the metropolitan city.
“I guess I do. But I think I do it so much better. Especially with these gorgeous earrings.” She finished her breakfast and poured her coffee in her thermos to go.
“I’ve really got to go, Bruce.”
He leaned over the bar counter and kissed her on the lips, leaving her thinking briefly about whether she wanted to stay home with her beau.
“I know. I’ll clean up here and we will catch up later.”
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