“Love you too,” he whispers back.
As I sit back down, Brance disentangles his hands from my mom, who clutches at Caroline as he moves away. Gross. I mean, come the fuck on!
My eyes narrow as he places the pretty pink box in my lap. “What is wrong with you?”
He smiles and winks.
“Somehow I think I know what this is.” Ripping open the paper, I hold up the firm beige box with the white Christian Louboutin Paris logo on top.
Brance and I were drooling over them the other day, but I walked away after I saw the price. “You’re crazy—the dress and now these shoes?” I shake the black heels for effect. “What are you, the son of a billionaire or something?” I tease.
“Only for you, Pretty Girl.” A wave of emotion bubbles up out of nowhere. I truly am lucky. I might have crappy parents, but I’m loved.
“Thank you,” I whisper. He squeezes my shoulder.
Dimitri and Anna hand me an envelope, which I’m sure is full of cash. I choke out a thank-you and hear my mother mumbling to Caroline about their gift. Rolling my eyes, I glare at her and cringe. All the work Tilly and Brance did taping up her eye has vanished, and she looks like an emaciated stroke patient again. Only she’s wearing a couture gown.
Caroline pats her shoulder, taking a slim box from my mom. “It’s from your mother and me.”
“Thank you, Caroline,” I say, hoping my mother hears my jab. She’s still sniffling loudly.
Untying the pink bow, I see an itinerary for Fashion Week in Paris in September.
“Wow.” The fake smile is firmly plastered on my face. I so do not want to go. “Um, thank you, Caroline and Mom.”
Caroline hugs me. “We’ll take the private jet: you, me, Claire, and Brance! We are going to have so much fun!”
Clapping her hands with joy, her eyes suddenly fall on Lexi. “Oh my goodness, would you like to go, Lexi?” She grabs at my arm like she’s a genius or getting ready to pass out. Either way, I want to scream.
“Tess?” I must not be breathing because Reed has to instruct me.
“She did not just do that!” I whisper as I take a breath. Reed’s hands massage my bare shoulders. The room is silent, I guess because I can’t form words. My manners have completely left me.
Reed clears his throat. “Mom, you can talk about all that later. It’s my turn.” His eyes darken.
He squats down to me and I have never been more grateful or turned on. His turquoise eyes and long black lashes make me warm in all sorts of places. His full lips spread into a grin as he hands me a small box. Excitement makes my hands shake as I unwrap it. Sucking in my breath, I take in the bright red box and sparkly gold letters. They tease me.
“Cartier. Nice, Reed,” Brance murmurs.
“Reed!” I exhale.
“Open it.” His eyes are gentle.
He reaches into the red velvet case and pulls out the white gold Diamond-Paved Love bracelet.
Unlatching it, I blink back the tears as I gaze at the sparkling, precious bangle in my hands. “Oh my God, Reed. It’s… it’s magnificent.” My eyes lock with his, and for a moment, I don’t know what else to say. “I love you,” I say at last, throwing myself into his arms and crying.
He kisses me. “I love you too,” he whispers into my ear.
“Tess!” My mom’s screech makes me jump. “He did not give you that for your birthday. You have to put that in our safe.” Leave it to Cartier diamonds to revive her.
“Claire.” Reed turns to her. “I had this made the exact size for her tiny wrist. When I put it on, it stays.”
He pushes it on. It’s tight over my knuckles, but once it’s on, it dangles perfectly.
Brance is dabbing at his eyes.
“Stop it—you’re going to make me lose it.” I slap at him.
“I want Reed,” he whines dramatically then starts laughing at himself.
“You’re crazy.” I can’t help my own laughter from slipping out.
I look over and give Lexi a fuck-you stare. The girl looks me right in the eyes and smirks. Smirks! What the hell? I’m done. I want Reed alone. I smile sweetly and clear my throat.
“Everyone, thank you all for the beautiful gifts and sharing my birthday with me. I love you all so much.” I look at everyone except the Russians.
Caroline and my mom stumble into my arms. Reed helps steady me so that I can steady them.
“It’s been a long day, so I’m going to—”
“Come on, Tess, don’t kick us out,” Jax says. I throw him my “I’m going to kill you” stare. He chuckles but shuts up.
“You look tired, Jax.” Sarcasm drips from my voice.
“Whatever…” He rolls his eyes at Reed and me.
“Mom, Dad, I guess I’m heading home.” He gives Dimitri a salute and winks at Lexi. I almost kick him.