Now the tears spilled down her cheeks. He was being so selfless. She didn’t deserve him, didn’t deserve his love. She was a wounded creature who had been deprived of love and affection so many times that she didn’t even know how to ask for it anymore. She didn’t know how to say yes, that’s great, thank you.

But the understanding look in Jonathan’s eyes told her that he knew that, too.

“I’m scared,” she told him softly, her voice wobbling. “Every time I love, I get hurt.”

“Sometimes love is about hurting, Violet.” He brushed the backs of his fingers over her cheeks, dashing away her tears. “But the pleasure in love is greater than the pain. So much greater. You just have to be willing to take that leap.”

“And what if, in ten years, we can’t make it work? What happens if we part then?”

“Then I’ve had ten years of your love. Ten years of glorious, wonderful memories, and I’ll regret not an iota of it. Every moment, every year, every hour matters. I’ve finally figured that out, now.” His mouth twisted in a wry smile. “Remember when I told you that the last ten years didn’t count? I was wrong. Because if we didn’t have the last ten years, I wouldn’t know what it was like to lose you. Without that, I might never have come here tonight, despite knowing that you didn’t want me here. I might never have tried again. I would have just gone on. Those ten years let me learn from my mistakes.”

Weeping openly now, Violet fell into his arms and snuggled against his chest. “I love you,” she blubbered, all snot and tears and braying sobs. “I love you and I’m so, so scared.” Her fingers curled into his jacket. “Just don’t leave me again.”

“You can’t get rid of me, love. I promise. No matter what, I’m yours.” He wrapped her in his arms and held her tightly while she cried out her emotions onto his jacket.

They remained like that for a long, long time, Violet struggling to compose herself, Jonathan’s hands moving over her shoulders, her arms, her hair. She wasn’t sure if it was because he was trying to soothe her, or if he just couldn’t get enough of touching her. Either way, she loved it. She loved his touch, and she never wanted to be without it again.

With one last sniff, Violet pulled away from him and took a step back, gazing up at his face. His unshaven, hollow-eyed, beautiful, wonderful face. “I do love you. I just . . . didn’t realize it until I pushed you out again.”

“I love you too, Violet. I loved the girl I met ten years ago, but I love the woman she is now even more.” His hand caressed her neck, drawing her closer, and when he brushed his lips against her mouth in the tenderest of kisses, she felt hope once more.

The world was suddenly full of hope.

“I’m so glad you’re here,” she whispered.

“I’m glad that you’re glad,” he murmured. “I figured you’d either listen to me or there would be a restraining order involved. I’m actually a little surprised it’s not the latter.”

She gave a watery chuckle. “I wanted you here. It just took me losing you again to realize what I had.”

“You never lost me,” he said, brushing her hair behind her ears in a tender gesture that took her breath away. “Never think that.”

Her fingers curled in his clothes. “I was so worried that I’d pushed you away again and that you’d give up on me for good. That I wouldn’t be able to fix the mistake.” She hesitated, and then added, “I . . . missed my period.”

She felt Jonathan’s body tense against her own. “I thought you were on the pill?”

“I am. I never skip a dose.”

“And we used condoms.”

“I know. I still bought a pregnancy test.” She bit her lip. “I know the odds are pretty much impossible, but . . .”

“There’s always that slim hope.”

It was hope, Violet realized. She’d wanted a child to anchor Jonathan to her, to force him to come back into her life. But now that he was here, she still wanted a baby. She’d always wanted a family. More than independence, more than travel, more than a career, she’d wanted an honest-to-goodness family. That core unit of people that would love her unconditionally. That core unit of people she felt like she’d never had.

Until now. So she looked up at Jonathan and gave him a wobbling smile. “Shall we go pee on a stick together?”

“Well, I don’t know what mine will do, but if you want me to, I’m game.”

Violet beamed at him through her tears.

Ten minutes later, Violet sat on the bathroom counter, waiting for the results. She’d done the deed and then let Jonathan in so they could wait on the results together.

It wasn’t surprising to Violet that the test showed negative almost immediately. It had been too much to hope, really. “No baby,” she said softly, and dumped the stick in the trash. She must have been crazy to be disappointed, but she was. “It’s for the best.”

“Is it strange if I’m disappointed?” Jonathan asked, pulling her off the counter and into his arms.

“Not strange,” Violet said. She was oddly disappointed, too. The old, familiar worry returned. If there was no baby, then they didn’t really have to stay together, did they? He was free to go at any time.

“Get that thought out of your head,” Jonathan said softly, pressing a kiss to her forehead. “I can tell from the look on your face that you’re expecting me to run.”

She really was transparent, wasn’t she? “I didn’t say that.”

“No, but you were thinking it.” His mouth twitched in a smile. “Just because there’s not a baby now doesn’t mean there can’t be one in a year or two.”

Her skin prickled at his words; not fear, but anticipation and excitement. Just the thought of being two years down the road with Jonathan filled her with an intense sense of pleasure. “So what happens now?”

“We leave the bathroom?”

Violet rolled her eyes but pulled out of his arms and walked down the hall. She was heading for the living room of her condo when Jonathan tugged her hand, heading toward her bedroom instead.

Well, she didn’t have a problem with that. She let him pull her toward her bedroom, wincing when she spotted her unmade bed and the dirty clothes on the floor. “I’m not a great housekeeper.”

“I’ll get you one,” he told her, moving to sit on the side of her bed and pulling her down next to him.

“I don’t want you buying me a housekeeper,” she told him. “I’m a teacher.”

“Then you shall remain an impoverished teacher and I will take the housekeeper,” he told her, dragging her smaller form against his so he could nibble on her ear.

“Do you have a house here in Detroit?” It was difficult to concentrate with his tongue flicking against her ear. “I thought you lived in New York.”

“I fly in to Detroit a lot for business and live mostly in New York. I usually stay in a hotel when I’m in Detroit, but if you’re here, this is where I want to be, too.”

“But what about my teaching?”

“I wouldn’t ask you to give up your job for me.” He brushed her hair aside and kissed her neck, her cheek, everywhere he could kiss her. “I have a few private planes. I’ll just fly back and forth a lot more, provided you’ll fly with me occasionally. We’ll make it work.”

“I guess we will, won’t we?” There was that hope, beating a frantic pattern in her breast again.

“I do have meetings every Thursday night that I can’t miss, but if you don’t mind losing me one night a week, the rest of them are yours.”

“You’d relocate for me?” It sounded like he was going out of his way to convenience her. Her with the paltry job. He was a billionaire with an enormous company to run, and he was worried about inconveniencing her?

“Violet, you don’t seem to get it. I’d do anything for you.”

She turned to him and flung her arms around his neck. “I love you, Jonathan.”

He fell backward on her bed, his arms going around her waist as she fell onto his chest. His eyes were mysteriously shiny again. “You know I’m never going to get tired of hearing you say that?”

“I’m scared of being in love,” she admitted to him. “I’m afraid of putting myself out there and getting hurt.”

“The last thing I want is to hurt you,” he told her in a husky voice, gazing up at her with love.

“I’m starting to figure that out.” Her fingers brushed through his hair and she leaned down to kiss him, then pulled back again. “But it’s going to take me a while to get comfortable with things. I imagine I’m going to be difficult from time to time—”

“I like difficult.”

“And I’ll probably close you out when I get hurt or upset.”

“I’ll just have to push my way back in again.”

“And I’m a terrible slob.”

“It’s a good thing I’m getting that housekeeper.”

She laughed, feeling light and airy and wonderful. “I guess it is.”

“Just as long as you never leave me again,” Jonathan said, his fingers tightening on her waist. “I can put up with any difficult moments, any messy floors, anything you throw at me.”

“I won’t leave again. I promise,” she said, and traced a finger through the stubble on his jaw. “I do love you.”

“I love you more than anything in the world.”

She smiled and snuggled against his chest, pressing her cheek against his heart. She loved hearing that. She had a feeling she was going to constantly need to hear it just to believe it, but Jonathan was good about telling her.

His hand slid down her body, caressing her hip. “Can I say how glad I am you didn’t slam the door shut in my face?”

Her lips twitched with amusement. She felt so light, so wonderful, so utterly carefree at the moment. She loved him. She loved him, and he was all hers. For as many times as she wanted, for as long as she wanted. Violet felt a surge of possessive pleasure mixed with desire. Her hand moved down his front in a caress, gliding from his chest to his crotch. She felt him harden immediately under her hand. “You do seem glad. Nice and . . . glad.”

Jonathan groaned, his hands tightening against her. “You’re distracting me, aren’t you?”

“Is that bad?”

“Hell no. Distract me all you want.”

She couldn’t stop smiling; her hand caressed his c**k through the fabric of his jeans thoughtfully. “Tell me a poem?”

“A poem?” he echoed, clearly distracted.

“Yes. Tell me something romantic.” She stroked her hand up and down his cock.

He was quiet for a long moment; as he thought, her fingers dragged over the outline of his cock, and she circled the head through the fabric, causing him to twitch underneath her. “Do you . . . like Rossetti?”

“I’m sure I will.”

“All right, then.” He sucked in a breath when she dragged her nails over the denim, and then began. “‘I loved you first: but afterward your love, outsoaring mine, sang such a loftier song . . .’ something something.”

She giggled. “Something something?”

“I . . . can’t seem to think of the rest of it at the moment. I’m rather distracted.” His hand slid over her back, tugged at her bra clasp through the fabric of her top. “I think I’d remember more if we were naked.”

“Is that so?”

“It can’t hurt.”

“I’m willing to give it a try,” she teased, sitting up. She smiled down at him and pulled her blouse over her head, tossing it onto the floor. A moment later, her bra followed and she sat in front of him proudly, na**d from the waist up.