Rolling my eyes, I took Dylan’s hand and followed Harlow inside. Jace sat in the front of the TV. I knew he was grumpy based on the way he didn’t look at me.
When I flopped next to him on the couch, he did smile.
“You smell like a strip club,” he said, narrowing his eyes at me.
“How would you know?”
“I’m not telling you my secrets.”
Shaking my head, I sighed loudly. “Why do you make me do this to you? It’s like you want to suffer.”
Jace knew what was coming, but his escape came too late. I pinned him on the couch and tickled him. Despite his efforts to seem unfazed, he couldn’t withstand armpit tickling.
While I tormented my laughing brother, Dad and Mom walked out from the kitchen.
“He missed you,” Mom said as I finally let Jace up.
Catching his breath, my brother leaned next to me on the couch. “I miss beating you at videogames.”
“I miss you beating me too,” I said, kissing his head.
Harlow flopped on the couch next to us and I smiled at the familiar comfort of my family.
Dylan watched us with a slight grin. When he caught Tad and Toni’s gazes, his smile grew.
Suspicious now, I glanced at Harlow who was busy gluing herself to me. “Are they up to something?” I whispered. “Am I going to be embarrassed?”
“I don’t know. If you feel embarrassed, I’ll punch Dylan in the crotch and distract everyone.”
Rolling my eyes at her threat, I studied Dylan who grinned at me.
“What?” I asked, nervous now.
“She’s on to you,” Dad said. “Better ask now before she gets squirrely.”
“Squirrely,” Jace snorted. “She gets batty too.”
Harlow laughed. “Winnie can do so many animal impressions.”
Ignoring them, I stood up and walked to a still smiling Dylan.
“What happened to patience?”
Without thinking, I reached to pinch my hand. Dylan took both hands then knelt on one knee.
“Don’t,” Harlow blurted, grabbing for me.
Everyone frowned at her. A moment passed where she stared at me in horror. Suddenly, she shrugged. “I meant don’t stop. Go ahead, Dylan.”
The mood in the room shifted back to anticipation. Our gaze focused on Dylan who smiled up at me.
“I know it’s been a few weeks. I don’t care. I love you and you love me, right?”
“I love you so much.”
“I’m not stupid. I know we’ll have problems. We run into issues. When we do, we’ll work them out. We’ll figure them out because we belong together. You believe that, don’t you?”
“Yes,” I whispered, staring into his beautiful dark eyes.
“Winona Todds, you are perfection and I refuse to live without you. Will you marry me?”
My legs turning to jelly, I knelt down too. “Yes,” I whispered, afraid he was about to change his mind. Maybe it was a trick. All these awful things rushed through my mind. I wasn’t good enough for Dylan. He was going to leave me one day. I didn’t deserve to be happy when I was so weak.
“You love me,” he whispered, pressing his forehead against mine. “You want me to be happy.”
“Yes,” I said, tears rolling down my cheeks.
“You’re what I need to survive.”
“I’m not really strong yet.”
“I love you now. I don’t want to wait. Do you want to wait for me?”
Shaking my head, I looked at my smiling parents then back at Dylan.
“We’re in love and planning to live together. We need to make our relationship official, so your daddy won’t kick my ass.”
Even laughing, I asked, “You want this?”
“I can give up everything else in my life, but never you. Married or not, you belong with me.”
I exhaled uneasily then smiled. “Yes, I will marry you.