She’d showered and shaved, and then she’d dressed in the scandalous deep purple corset and thigh highs Cole had left out for her on the bed. He’d even provided black stilettos, which she carefully buckled on her feet, her hands trembling the entire time.
Something had shifted in him last night, but she wasn’t sure what. All she knew was that she was both frightened and excited at the same time. This morning, he’d all but growled at her to get her ass in the shower and wait for him in the bedroom.
So here she sat, perched on the edge of the bed, waiting to see precisely what Cole Fury had in store. The anticipation made her restless, and after a few moments of silence, she got up and paced the room. He’d asked her to give him three days, and today was the third. Was this some kind of sendoff? Did she want to leave him?
But she was so close to losing her heart to him all over again… If it didn’t work out this time, she didn’t think she’d ever get over the pain. What would she do if…no, when…he left on another tour? Would she be able to handle it this time?
Tomi shook her head, trying to rid herself of the dark thought.
“I don’t think I’ll forget this for the rest of my life,” Cole’s deep voice made her freeze. He stood in the doorway, filling it up as if he owned it.
Tomi rounded on him, not liking the fact he’d snuck up on her and caught her unaware. “Forget what?”
He grinned at her, a heart-melting, butterflies-in-her-stomach, impossibly handsome grin.
“I thought purple was your favorite color.” He cocked a black brow.
Her irritation vanished, and she propped a hand on her hip. “I never envisioned myself wearing it in quite this way.”
“That’s a shame.” The appreciation in his gaze started a slow burn on her insides.
“Do you want to tell me what all this is about?” She gestured to her outfit and waited, trying her best to exude an air of confidence when she felt anything but.
Cole’s amused demeanor changed; his smile flattened in a way that made her want to cross the room and cup his cheek in comfort. But she could no more make her legs work now than she could if she were a puppet. His look pinned her in place. Just like always, he’d taken all of her bearings and flipped them upside down. And he hadn’t even said a word yet…
“I’ve been avoiding this, and I shouldn’t have. It’s been a disservice to us both. But I’m honest enough to admit to you, Tomi, that I was afraid.”
“Yes, I was—I am afraid of losing you.”
The raw honesty in his voice stole her breath. “I am, too,” she began.
Cole held up a hand, and she immediately stopped talking.
“Do you remember the conversations we used to have?”
Tomi’s heart stopped in her chest. For a nanosecond, she thought about pretending she didn’t understand what he was asking, but she couldn’t disrespect Cole like that, not when he’d been so upfront with her. Her voice trembling, she said, “Yes.”
“Do you still feel the same way?”
He wasn’t asking her about her young, innocent declarations of love for him. She knew exactly what he wanted to know. Did she still fantasize about giving up control?
Her pulse throbbed in her ears, but she held her chin high, knowing this might be the last chance she had to experience everything she’d been searching for over the past decade. “Yes, I do.”
Cole didn’t speak, but his demeanor shifted. He straightened from his casual pose, more alert. His nostrils flared, and his lips parted. “I need you to clarify.”
It’s now or never, Tomi.
Drawing on every bit of inner strength she had, she crossed to him, coming to a stop when her toes were just inches from his. She had to tilt her head back to look at him, already feeling surrounded by his tremendous presence. “I’ve searched for someone to replace you. Someone who knows what I need, a man who can read me and understand me without being told what I’m feeling.” Tomi sucked in a breath, fear holding her hostage.
Cole looked at her darkly. “And did you find him?”
“No one could replace you,” she admitted quietly. “No one could ever replace you.”