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The ceremony was a blur. Boyce and I repeated vows, exchanged rings, kissed in front of everyone—and all I retained at the end of it all was the dark green of his eyes, steady on mine with every step I took and every word I said. Once Thomas put my hand in Boyce’s, he never let go. His voice was calm and sure. It made all the buzzing anxiety go soft, like footfalls on a forest floor. Before I knew it, we were presented as Boyce and Pearl Wynn, and he leaned close.
“Now that’s a Wynn-win,” he said, and we laughed.
I carried my new wife up the steps and into our house. She hadn’t been allowed to the top floor yet. A quarter of the footprint of the rest of the place, it was surrounded with a widow’s walk wide enough for a couple of chairs, accessed by french doors. In the distance, the gulf was just visible—a sliver of water below a sky that ranged pale gray to bright blue, depending on the weather’s mood. It wasn’t the bay view her parents had, but she swore she didn’t need that.
The bottom floor was a double carport—no more bedroom windows up against the side of the garage. The second-floor living quarters were brighter on cloudy days than that trailer had been in midsummer, and our bedroom had a bed like the one in that hotel in Houston. I was looking forward to performing my husbandly duties in that bed, but first I wanted to show her the top floor.
Instead of setting her down once we got inside, I walked straight to the winding staircase and put her over my shoulder because it was way too narrow to carry her up any other way. I probably didn’t have to steady her with my hand on her ass, but hell—there was no reason not to.
“Boyce!” She laughed, holding on to the back of my shirt.
There was no door—the staircase emerged into the center of a blue room, windowed on all four sides. I’d installed a big L-shaped desk into one corner—the one facing the gulf—and a sectional sofa in the opposite corner. Above the windows and the doors to the widow’s walk was a continuous shelf. On it were whelk shells I’d collected over the past few months—a couple hundred of them in just about every size. None were as big as that first one, which sat on her new desk.
I put her on her feet and watched her walk around, peeking out the windows, trailing her fingers over the reclaimed-wood desk, the upholstered desk chair, her diploma on the wall—space for the next one just over it. She touched the glued-together shell I’d given her when she was a pretty little fourteen-year-old who’d turned my world upside down with one kiss.
After walking around the room twice she returned, cuddled her hands on my chest and stared up at me. “This room is—?”
“Yours. You’ve got three or four more years of school, and though I’ll welcome you in your sexy little glasses at the kitchen table anytime, I reckoned you needed a room all your own.”
One tear and then another tumbled down her cheeks and her lower lip wobbled.
“Happy crying?” I said, winding that escaping curl around my finger, tucking it behind her ear.
Her hiccup of laughter made the rest of those tears spill, and her nodding smile was the clincher. “So happy. You?”
I slid my arms around her and pulled her close. “I’m the happiest son of a bitch in this whole damn state.” One thin strap slipped off her shoulder, and that coil popped back out from behind her ear, and in our positions there was no hiding what would make me even happier.
She raised one brow and gave me a sharp look. “I think that sofa behind you needs some breaking in.” She stretched on her toes and kissed my chin.
I lifted her just off the ground and strode backward, kissing her, until my calves hit that sofa, where I paused. “In your wedding dress?”
She pushed me down, lifted her skirt just enough to get it out of the way, and straddled me. Eyes shining, she bit her lip on that naughty grin she got sometimes. “Not like I’m planning to wear it again, right?”
I shook my head and wasn’t sure where to start—the one million buttons down the back of that dress or the hundreds of hairpins in her hair. She reached up and started pulling pins out and tossing them to the floor. Buttons it is.
“Sweetheart,” I said, kissing her while threading buttons the size of baby teeth through equally small holes, “I know you don’t believe in luck, but you’ll never convince me it doesn’t exist. Because I know for a fact that I am one lucky man.”