"I love you," I tell him.
"I love you more, sweetness," he whispers.
Six Months Later
"Keep your eyes off her tits, dude," Colton growls at Pace for the third time today.
I giggle and look over at Pace. He smiles at me not-so-innocently before fixing a pair of sunglasses over his eyes. "Sorry, Soph. I'm having quite a dry spell, and any time there's boobs in the vicinity my eyes automatically go to them, but I know it's no excuse," he says.
Colton looks ready to punch him. I settle my hand over Colton's in an attempt to calm him. "It's okay, Pace."
I look down at my bikini clad chest, making sure that everything's covered. It is. Thank God.
"Here, cover up, sweetness." Colton hands me a beach towel.
"I'm not wearing a towel. I'm trying to get a tan," I tell him.
Colton bites his lip, stewing, but he lets it go.
We're spending a perfect day on Collins' yacht, and I have to admit, I feel like a bit of goddess. All three men have been very attentive, helping me board the boat, bringing me champagne, rubbing sunscreen onto my shoulders, and providing me with endless amusement as they bicker.
There are times I feel bad for smiling and laughing when she can't anymore. But then Colton weaves his fingers through mine and I know he's reading my thoughts. Becca would want me to be happy, so I push the dark, somber thoughts away and focus on the good in my life.
The sun is shining brightly overhead, making my diamond and sapphire engagement ring sparkle and glitter in the light. I hold out my hand, admiring it in the sun and Colton's answering smile is bright enough to light up a room.
The day he slipped it onto my finger was one the happiest of my life. I'd inadvertently found it in his sock drawer a few weeks before he proposed. I'd tucked it back away of course, but as the days passed without a proposal I'd started to panic, wondering if he'd changed his mind.
A few days later, he flew us to Rome, back to the hotel I stayed at with Becca. And in the same hotel suite I'd shared with my sister, he proposed. We were surrounded by dozens of white flickering candles and big bunches of white peonies. After I said yes, he pulled a pink Starburst from his pocket and bit it in half, feeding us each a piece of it. It was incredibly sweet, romantic and heartfelt. Becca was there, silently cheering us on. I could almost imagine her grabbing my left hand, and making some obscene comment about how large the stone was.
The last year has been the hardest of my life, but I'd worked through all seven stages of grief. Denial. Pain. Anger. And now I've reached acceptance, though in my darkest hours, I never thought this day would come. Maybe I just never wanted it come. Never wanted to reach the place where I accepted her loss.
It's been a rocky healing process, but I've been stitched together by Colton's love and my own sheer determination to live life to the fullest. God had a plan all along. He knew he was going to call Becca home, and brought me to Colton in the most unlikely of places.
I know the ache will never go away, but I've begun to heal. To actually live again, rather than just going through the motions. And that the change in me is mostly due to this beautiful man lying beside me.
Colton is exactly what I need. He's smooth as silk when the situation calls for it, opening doors, pouring wine, helping fasten the pearl necklace at my throat. And rough around the edges when I need that too. His hungry mouth devouring every inch of me, a firm hand tossing me down onto the bed, pulling my panties down my legs and punishing my insides with his powerful strokes while whispering filthy words that make me blush. I love every side of this man. Crave them all. I thank my lucky stars that one man has been enough to satisfy all the different sides of me when I felt like I was splintering and breaking apart.
"We should have invited Kylie," Pace comments to no one in particular. The few times he'd seen her, he always regarded her with a mystified sort of interest. She'd been a good friend as I worked though my grief, bringing homemade soup over to the house and letting me miss as much work as I needed.
"She has a baby, she can't just take off boating at a moment's notice," Colton reminds him.
"I never thought about that," Pace says, looking thoughtful. "I could have watched the little guy…" he remarks under his breath.
Collins, Colton and I share a meaningful look, as if wondering what has gotten into him.
Becca's words from the pool party and her letter come rushing back to me about what pretty babies me and Colton are going to make, and I wonder if I can get him to sneak below deck with me. Who am I kidding, this is Colton. Of course he will.
"Hey hot stuff," I say to my handsome fiancé. "Do you want to go cool off below deck?"
His wicked grin tells me he knows exactly what's on my mind. "I love you so fucking much," he says. "Let's do it."
I rise, and tug him up. His full height towers above me, making me feel small. Then he laces his fingers in mine and I know I am going to be okay. We are going to be okay.
Our relationship has been unconventional. Unexpected. As he thumbs the ring on my left hand, I think to myself how we have come full circle.
"Can you believe we're here? That you will soon be my wife?" he asks, mirroring my thoughts. The word wife on his lips in relation to me sends little tingles skittering up my body.
"Who would have thought it would cost you a cool million to get a wife?" I ask, gazing up at him sweetly, but my tone daring.