“I wanted you to do it, Emma. Don’t you see? I never realized that I was as scared as you were. More, maybe. I’d never met anyone like you. And I’m not talking about your family money, your upbringing.
I’m talking about the woman you are. The woman you always were. You made me feel things, big things I couldn’t control. Do you know what it’s like to go through life thinking you’re bigger, badder than anything the world can throw at you, only to be blown completely off course by a little blonde girl with big blue eyes?”
Emma was reeling from his confession. Standing was impossible with her knees shaking so hard. She sat down hard on the stones. Jason moved closer, sat directly in front of her, and when he reached for her hand she gave herself over entirely to his warmth and her elemental need for all that he was.
“I screwed up at least as bad you did, Emma. Worse even, because I didn’t stay to fight for you. I just let you go. And then I blamed you for ten years for everything. Let you sit with that blame.”
“You felt this way last Saturday?”
That muscle started working in his jaw and she reached out for it. He covered her hand with his and rubbed his cheek into her palm. Just being here with Jason like this was enough for her. She could sit in the quad with him forever and be happy.
“If I had I wouldn’t have been such an idiot all week. I saw your name on the reunion list and I couldn’t stay away from you. Not for another second. I told myself it was because I was finally going to get you out of my system, teach you a lesson, but now I know exactly why I fed myself such bullshit.”
“Why?” she whispered.
“Because as long as I believed my own lies it meant I could be with you again. And being with you was all that mattered. Itis all that matters. You know that, don’t you?”
She felt her eyes grow wet. “I do. And I’m not ever going to forget.”
He kissed her, then, and when his lips touched hers, she came fully, completely alive. Gently, she slipped her tongue between his lips, letting it dance with his in a way that was completely familiar and yet entirely new.
“I swore I wasn’t going to ask you this today, but I have to.”
Tears of joy streaming down her face, she stared into the eyes of the man she would always love. Whom she was certain would always love her. No matter what life threw at them.
“Emma, will you marry me?”
She couldn’t stop smiling as she said “Yes” and kissed him. Six months later, when they returned to that very spot—Emma in her gown and Jason looking extremely hot in a tux—and she said “I do,” the same exact smile lit her up from the inside out.