Samantha Young E-Bundle

By: Samantha Young

For all the Joss and Braden fans . . .

Chapter 1

The Proposal

My fingers moved fast but quietly across the keys of my laptop, and I’d adjusted the screen light so it wasn’t so blaring. I’d woken up in the middle of the night, wide-awake and itching to finish the chapter in my manuscript where my dad finally makes progress in his relationship with my mom. Much of what I’d written was conjecture since I only knew the basic history of my parents’ relationship, but their world, or the world I’d given them, had taken me over these past few months and I found myself enjoying writing in a way I had never before.

This often meant late-night type-fests and despite the fact that I was partially consumed by their story, I was also very much aware of my considerate bedfellow and was trying to act as he would and not wake him up.

I’d been typing for just over an hour and finally I’d come to the end of the chapter. After saving the file, I shut the laptop down and stared at it for a while. Breathing in and out, slowly, evenly, I controlled the wound inside of me. Pain slashed me deep across my chest and when I thought on the loss of my parents, of my little sister, Beth, that cut would widen into an agonizing gash. Before my considerate bedfellow, I’d have sewn that cut completely shut and put a numbing agent over it. Now I felt it. I just didn’t let it overwhelm me by turning it into a gaping hole.

Braden helped a lot with that.

My considerate bedfellow.

Among other things.

I smiled and turned in my chair to look at him in the dark room. His bare back was uncovered, the sheets drawn up to his waist, his long legs tangled in them in the middle of the bed. We didn’t have “sides of the bed.” Braden was a cuddler—he insisted we didn’t need sides.

He’d had an exhausting day yesterday. He’d called me late, explaining how he’d gone from meeting to meeting, and then he had been pulled into some emergency at his nightclub Fire, which turned out not to be such an emergency but a case of crap management. When he’d returned home I must have already fallen asleep but I wasn’t surprised that I woke up in his arms. Or that he’d been so tired he didn’t wake up when I extricated myself from his embrace.

Gazing longingly at his muscular back and strong arms, I wanted to slip back into bed and wrap him around me. But looking at his sleeping face in profile I stopped myself. I was afraid I’d wake him up and he obviously needed his rest.

Standing up slowly so my chair wouldn’t squeak, I tiptoed in the dark across to the bed and very gently eased myself back into it, checking constantly to make sure I hadn’t woken him as I pulled the sheets back up over me. I lay down on my side, my hand tucked under my cheek, and I stared at him.

He was beautiful.

Just looking at him caused a different kind of ache inside of me.

This was a man who’d fought long and hard to keep me, even when I was bent on self-destructing us. This was a man who understood I could be difficult and stubborn and a little bit irrational (okay, maybe a freaking lot irrational), and still loved me. I wasn’t the best at expressing my emotions. I’d spent so long guarding them so I wouldn’t be vulnerable to heartbreak that even now I wasn’t the gushy, emotional type of girl who could tell her boyfriend every single day that she loved him.

But Braden knew I loved him.

Sometimes I wondered, though, if he knew how much. I wondered if he knew that just watching him sleep made me scary happy, breathless even. I wondered if he knew that he was absolutely, without a doubt, everything to me.

Usually that wasn’t something I’d want anyone to know because it meant admitting it out loud, and if I admitted it out loud and then lost that person, then I couldn’t pretend I’d never felt so much for them in the first place. But that was the old me. Dr. Pritchard, my therapist, wouldn’t be happy with me if I held on to that kind of thinking.

I wouldn’t be happy with me.

Worse, Braden wouldn’t be happy with me.

I snuggled a little closer, just needing to feel the heat from his body against my skin. My eyes dropped to his mouth, his beautiful mouth, which said and did a lot of nice things to me.

I was everything to Braden. I knew this because he told me so. He never made me doubt how much I meant to him.

“Is there a reason you’re over there and I’m over here?” he suddenly muttered, his eyes still shut.

I’d jerked back at the sound of his voice but was now smiling as I slid closer. “You’re awake,” I whispered, wrapping my arm around his waist, entwining my legs with his as he draped a strong arm over my back and snuggled me against his firm chest. I sighed. Content.

“I’ve been awake for the past ten minutes, waiting for you to get your arse back in beside me.”

I snorted at his disgruntled tone.

His warm hand slid down over my back, caressing my butt before smoothing back up my spine. “You get what you needed to get down?”

“Mmmhmm. Finished my chapter.”

“Good, babe. Now go back to sleep.”

I smirked against his chest. “Okay, caveman.”

A minute or so passed and just as Braden was drifting back off I whispered, “You’re my everything. You know that right?”