Page 22 of Forbidden Stranger

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Me:I might regret how I started this whole thing, but I’ll never regret finding you.

“And you’re sure she’s coming in today?”I ask Joy, and she nods.

“I sent her a text first thing this morning and she said she’ll be here.”

“Do you think I brought enough cupcakes?”Frostie asks both of us.

“I think this is enough to feed the whole town,” Carol says as she puts down cups for hot cocoa and Colden hands her the marshmallows.

“Thank you again for making them last-second,” I say as I take one of the boxes from her and place it on the table near the children's reading section.

“Anything for Noel.She’s the reason my man smiles so much.”

“That’s enough,” Clause says as he picks Frostie up and carries her away from us.

“North is waiting out front.”Joy checks her phone and then looks at me with wide eyes.“Tinsel is on the way too.”

“It wasn’t me,” Carol says and then bites her lip.“Okay, maybe it was, but you know how she can be!”

“It’s all right.I was expecting this,” I say, and just then the doors bust open and Tinsel walks through wearing her mirrored lens aviators.Jack is not far behind her as he stands by the door and talks to North for a second.

“This looks like breaking and entering to me.”She walks right up to me, and I shake my head.

“Look, I know you really want to do your thing right now, but let's cut to the chase because Noel will be here any second, and I don’t have time to waste.”

“Fine.What are you doing here?”

“Trying to fix my fuck-up with a big grand gesture, so if you could step out of the way, I’d like to prove to Noel that I’m worthy of her love.”

“Oh.”She takes off her sunglasses and nods approvingly.“Carry on.”

“Thank you,” I say, and Jack looks astonished.

“If Noel doesn’t take you back, I will,” Jack says as Tinsel elbows him in the side.

North sticks his head in from outside and gives me the thumbs up.“All right, everybody, it's go time.”

For the past three days, I’ve given Noel space, and in the meantime, I’ve recruited her friends to help me pull this off.The library was closed on Sunday and Monday, but today it’s back open, and I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.It was hell not going to her house and knocking down the door, but I found a way to do all of this while keeping her in my heart, and I hope she sees what she means to me.

As soon as Noel walks into the library, her feet stop moving when she sees me standing in front of the circulation desk.For a moment, our eyes meet, and I can tell she hasn’t been sleeping.Maybe I’m deceiving myself, but there’s a flush to her cheeks that might be happiness but it’s quickly replaced with suspicion.

She looks like she might turn around and bolt, but thankfully, I planned for this.Her friends step out and block the exit as I move in a little closer.

“What’s going on?”she asks as she looks around with hesitation and maybe even a little fear.

“I want to show you something,” I say as I hold out my hand to her.“Come with me.”

She shakes her head, and I open my mouth to say something, but Tinsel interrupts.

“Oh come on, Noel, it’s like a romance book.It’s the big grand gesture chapter!”she says, and a few people laugh.

“Fine.”Noel puts her hand in mine, and the second she does, everything in my world falls back into place.

“You’re lying if you say you didn’t miss that,” I whisper to her, pulling her close to my side.

“I’m not saying anything.Show me what you need to show me, and then I can get back to work.”

“All right,” I say as we walk back to the romance section and I stand in the place where we first kissed.

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