Page 8 of Stealing the Bride

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“It happens.” She’s gulping in air too quickly.

“Vanna, I need you to breathe. Look at me.” Her eyes find mine, and I see her pupils are dilated. She’s had an adrenaline rush, and she’s probably not eaten.

“I just need a second.” She stutters out another breath, and then she looks confused. “How do you know my—”

Before she can finish the sentence, her eyes roll back, and she passes out cold in the passenger seat of my car.

“Well shit,” I say to myself, quickly glancing around. “I guess this is one way to do it.”

Placing her feet inside the car, I turn her body and then buckle her up. Once she’s secured, I go around to the other side and get in.

“Just so you know, this wasn’t part of the plan,” I say to her sleeping form as I pull away from the curb and head out of town. “But a win is a win.”

I check the back seat to make sure all her stuff is still there, and I look at the GPS to see how much farther I’ve got to drive. Putting my foot on the gas, I hope that I can make it there before she wakes up.

Earlier today, I broke into her apartment and packed a few things.

It’s scary how few possessions she had and how easily I could erase all traces of her from that studio apartment. After I had all of her stuff loaded in my car, the plan was to surprise her out of her building and then play it out based on her reaction.

I’m not willing to admit all the back-up plans I had just in case she wasn’t so cooperative, but lucky for the both of us, it’s nap time.

Vanna must have been exhausted because the whole way to the lake house she sleeps quietly. It’s dark out by the time we arrive, but she keeps on sleeping as I go around and open her door.

“Come on, let’s get you inside.” I cradle her in my arms, and her body naturally curls around mine. Her face pushes into that safe space at my neck, and for just a second, I close my eyes and savor it.

“I’m tired,” she mumbles, and I smile as I nod.

“You slept the whole way.”

When I walk in the house, she stirs a little, and I feel her pick her head up off my chest. “Where are we?”

“My family’s place,” I answer honestly. “I thought after your ordeal on the street, you could use a little break.”

“Oh my god.” She stiffens as if she’s truly waking up. “I can’t believe you punched him.”

I stop walking and stare down at her, my jaw clenched tight. “He put his hands on you.”

Her eyes stay locked with mine, and after a beat, she nods. “Thank you.”

“It was nothing,” I say as I walk into the living room that overlooks the lake. It’s completely dark now, but this far from the city, you can see the stars. “Sit here and rest, and I’ll get you something to eat, okay?”

“Okay,” she agrees, and I lower her into the oversized armchair that’s soft and great for curling up in.

I grab a blanket off the back of the chair and wrap it around her. Then I decide that I need to keep my eyes on her, and I turn the chair so it faces the kitchen.

“There.” I nod and then cock my head to the side. Reaching down, I pull the chair a few feet closer to the kitchen, and I’m finally satisfied.

“Thanks.” There’s a little laugh to her voice, and it’s the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard. “As soon as I’m feeling better, I’ll get out of your hair.”

“There’s no rush.” The words are casual, and I don’t push. I’m going to do everything I can to make her think that she can leave, all while preventing that from happening. All I have to do is convince her that staying here is the best option. It shouldn’t be too hard. “Besides, I’m pretty sure your ex-whatever isn’t going to give up so easily.” My eyes linger on her face, and I smile. “I know I wouldn’t.”

She blushes and ducks her chin before answering. “Ex-fiancé,” she finally says, rubbing the spot on her arm where he grabbed her.

When I saw him put his hands on her, I thought I was going to rip him in half with my bare hands. Lucky for him, I was preoccupied with kidnapping my sweet little kitten, or I might have.

“And you’re probably right. God, what am I going to do?” She shakes her head as if not liking her first thought. “I’m sorry, this is not your problem, you were just being a nice guy and stepping in. I really appreciate it, but I should probably get out of your hair—”

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