Rush Page 50

Chapter forty-four

Mia spent the weekend with Jace—or rather he spent it with her. Ash was in and out, bringing takeout and generally fussing over her. The two men brought movies, and they crashed on the couch watching TV until Mia would drift off into a fever-induced sleep.

By Monday morning she was feeling better, but not well enough to tackle work, so she called in to let Louisa and Greg know she wouldn’t be there.

Jace and Ash headed into the office but told her they’d be back, because they had something special planned for the evening.

Through it all, she hadn’t heard a single peep from Gabe. No flowers, no gifts. Just silence. It unnerved her and had her questioning every decision she’d made with regard to him.

She didn’t have the heart to tell Jace she didn’t feel up to whatever he and Ash had planned. They’d both been so great over the weekend, pampering her endlessly and working so hard to cheer her up.

Whatever they had planned, she’d be prepared and she’d take it with a smile. Jace had told her to dress warmly, so she could only imagine whatever it was they were doing was outside.

Thank goodness she wasn’t still running a fever, or the thought of being out in the cold would drive her right over the edge.

She showered in the afternoon and tried her best to do something with her hair and makeup so she didn’t look hungover and dragged through the wringer. But even makeup had its limitations…

At six, Jace and Ash arrived, their eyes sparkling with mischief. She groaned inwardly because they were obviously up to no good, and since it involved her, she was going to be a victim of whatever they’d hatched between them.

Jace had a driver tonight, which was odd since he tended to tool around town in his car when it was just them. But they bundled her inside after making sure she was dosed in case her fever returned.

“Where are we going?” she asked in exasperation.

“That’s for us to know and you to find out,” Jace said smugly.

He and Ash both looked like kids at Christmas, and their eyes gleamed with unholy glee.

She relaxed in the seat and told herself she would enjoy whatever it was. Even if her heart still ached with emptiness. Gabe had disappeared after staying at her apartment Friday night. Not one word had she heard from him. Had he given up?

When they pulled up in front of Saks Fifth Avenue just across from Rockefeller Center, she gasped in pleasure at the enormous lighted tree towering above the skating rink. It was so beautiful, and it made her ache with all the memories of Jace taking her here when she was a child. They’d never missed a lighting. Not until this year, in fact.

“Oh Jace,” she whispered as he pulled her from the car. “It’s as beautiful as ever.”

Jace smiled indulgently at her, and then he and Ash fell in beside her as they guided her toward the crowd gathered around the tree.

The tree loomed over them, aglow with thousands and thousands of colored lights. Christmas music filled the air. And then a melodious sound as a man began to sing “The Christmas Song.”

“There’s a concert?” Mia asked in excitement as she turned to Jace.

He smiled and nodded and then urged her toward the front. Surprisingly, no one protested their cutting in front of others, and in fact, a group made room for them at the very front where the aisle cut up to the stage.

“Oh this is perfect!” Mia exclaimed.

Ash and Jace chuckled and then Mia’s attention turned to the singer performing Christmas carols.

Oh but it brought back so many warm memories of her and Jace. She reached over to catch Jace’s hand and she squeezed it tightly, her heart overflowing with love for her brother. He’d been her rock for so long, and he still was. She’d have never made it through her breakup with Gabe if it weren’t for Jace and Ash both.

“Thank you,” she whispered close to his ear. “I love you.”

Jace smiled. “Love you too, baby girl. I want this night to be special for you.”

There was fleeting sadness in his gaze and before she could ask about his cryptic words, the song ended and the singer began talking to the crowd. It took her a moment before she realized he’d said her name.

She blinked in surprise, and then a spotlight bounced over her and remained solidly in place, illuminating her spot in the crowd. She glanced up to Jace in bewilderment, but he’d stepped back along with Ash, leaving her alone in the spotlight.

“A very merry Christmas and warm holiday wishes going out to Miss Mia Crestwell,” the man said. “Gabe Hamilton wants you to know how much he loves you and how much he wants for you to spend this holiday season with him. But don’t take my word for it. Here’s the man himself to tell you in person.”

Her mouth gaped open when Gabe appeared at the end of the carpeted aisle that led up the steps to where the man had been performing. His gaze was fixed solidly on her, and in his hands he carried a brightly wrapped box with a huge bow on top.

The crowd around her cheered as Gabe drew near, and then he went down on one knee, the box still held out in his hand.

“Merry Christmas, Mia,” he said in a husky voice. “I’m sorry I was such an idiot. I should have never let you walk away from me. You’re right. You deserve someone who will fight for you always and I want to be that man if you’ll just give me another chance.”

She had no idea what to say, how to respond. Tears welled hot in her eyes and threatened to fall.

“I love you,” he said fiercely. “I love you so damn much that I ache when I’m not with you. I don’t ever want to be apart from you. I want you in my life always. Do you understand that, baby? I want you to marry me. I want forever with you.”

He held out the box to her and she took it with trembling fingers. They bounced erratically over the bow as she tried to pry the top off. Inside was a velvet jeweler’s box. She nearly dropped it as she pulled it out.

Around her flashes went off. People with cell phones were recording the moment. There were loud cheers and yells of encouragement. But she shut everything out but the man in front of her. Nothing else mattered.

She opened the box to see a gorgeous diamond ring nestled inside. It glittered in the light and blurred in her teary vision. Then she glanced down at the man on his knees in front of her. He was begging her with his eyes.

Jesus, but he was crawling.

“Oh Gabe.”

She went to her knees in front of him so they were on the same level. She threw her arms around his shoulders still holding on to the box with the ring.

“I love you,” she breathed. “I love you so much. I don’t want to be without you.”

He grasped her shoulders and pulled her back, his eyes fierce with love and possessiveness. Then he reached into his coat and pulled out a thick document. Oh God, it was their contract.

And then he slowly and methodically tore it in two, his gaze never leaving hers.

“From now on our relationship has no rules,” he said hoarsely. “It will only be what you and I make it. What we want it to be. No constraints. Nothing but our love. The only signature I want from you is on a marriage certificate.”

He took the box from her hand and pulled the ring free. Then he picked up her left hand and slid the glittering diamond onto her third finger.

The crowd erupted around them, and then Gabe pulled her into his embrace, his mouth hard and fierce over hers. She clung just as fiercely to him, absorbing this moment, committing it to memory. It was one she’d never forget as long as she lived.

When she and Gabe were old and gray, she’d remember this night and play it over and over. It would be a story to tell their children, their daughters.

And then she realized she had no idea if he even wanted children.

“I want babies,” she blurted out.

Then she blushed wildly as she realized how far her voice had carried in the crowd. There was laughter around them and one called out loudly, “Give them to her, man!”

Gabe smiled, his expression so tender that it melted her heart and warmed her so thoroughly that she didn’t even register the cold.

“I want babies too,” he said huskily. “Daughters as beautiful as you are.”

She smiled so wide she thought surely her lips would split.

“I love you, Mia,” he said, his voice gruff and uncertain. He looked so vulnerable there on his knees in front of her. “I’m going to love you forever. I hope that’s good enough for you. I’ve done so much wrong since you came into my life, but I swear to you that I’m going to spend the rest of my life making it up to you. No one will ever love you more than I do.”

Tears leaked down her cheeks as she stared back at the man who’d humbled himself in front of her and half of New York City.

“I love you too, Gabe. I’ve always loved you,” she returned softly. “I’ve waited most of my life for you.”

He slowly stood and then lowered his hand to help her to her feet. Then he pulled her into his embrace and held on tightly as the music began around them.

“I’ve waited just as long for you, Mia. Maybe I didn’t always know what I was missing, but it was you. Always you.”

He turned them so they faced Jace and Ash. She’d forgotten all about them, and then realized that they were in on this too. She realized the enormity of them being in on it.

Joy flooded her heart, and she launched herself at Jace, nearly toppling him over as she hugged him.

“Thank you,” she whispered in his ear. “Thank you for understanding and for accepting, Jace. You can’t know how much this means to me.”

He hugged her back, emotion thick in his own voice. “I love you, baby girl, and I just want you to be happy. Gabe has convinced me that he’s the man for the job. That’s all any big brother can ask for.”

She turned and threw herself into Ash’s arms and kissed him on the cheek. “I love you too, you big lug. And thank you for helping me through these past weeks.”

Ash grinned and kissed her cheek before releasing her back to Gabe. Then he ruffled her hair affectionately. “Anything for you, kiddo. We just want you to be happy. And well, I want to be the baby’s godfather.”

Jace scowled. “Oh hell no. That’s my job. I’m the kid’s uncle.”

Mia rolled her eyes and squeezed herself into Gabe’s side as Ash and Jace started arguing. Gabe chuckled and then tightened his hold around her waist. He smiled down at her, his love shining brighter than the star atop the Rockefeller tree.

“What do you say we go home and practice giving them a baby to fight over?”

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