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Her arms snaked around his neck as she held on for dear life while he hammered into her. His lips were nibbling at her ear, his breathing was hot, labored, and liberally interspersed with groans as he lost himself in her. Bronwyn matched his thrusts with her own, and as she found herself hurtling toward another powerful climax, she arched her back and tangled her fingers in his hair.

“Bryce . . .” Her voice broke on his name, and her breath caught as she felt herself clamping around his hardness. In that incredible moment, she completely forgot that he couldn’t hear her. “I’m coming . . .” He increased his tempo when he felt her tightening, not needing to hear her in order to recognize the familiar signs of her impending orgasm. Bronwyn went as taut as a bowstring, right on the verge . . .

“That’s right, my love,” he encouraged breathlessly. “Come for me.” He drew himself nearly all the way out, until nothing but a whisper of him remained inside of her and she sobbed in frustration, before he plunged back in, angling himself to hit her just right. That was all it took to send her screaming down into the abyss. The intense contractions of her climax were enough to send Bryce plummeting down after her with a cry of pleasure. He moved his hand from the crook of her knee and flattened it against her back to pull her as close to him as she could get, while he shuddered inside of her for what seemed like forever. Afterward, they both went completely limp, occasionally jerking as pleasurable aftershocks hit them. They remained that way for a moment, still joined together and too drained to move. Bryce was planting idle little kisses on her damp neck, and Bronwyn was stroking his sweat-soaked hair.

“You’re breathtaking,” he murmured into her ear before stirring himself long enough to move off her and remove the condom. She groaned in protest when he left her briefly to dispose of it in the downstairs bathroom, kicking off his jeans and underwear in the process. He was back in seconds and stood grinning down at her nude body in immense satisfaction.

“Sated, sweaty, and ever-so-slightly smug,” he informed her. “That’s how you look.”

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“That’s how I feel,” she confirmed lazily, lifting her arms toward him. “Why are you standing there? Come down here. I’m cold, I need you to keep me warm.” He smiled tenderly and entwined his fingers with hers before tugging gently at her hands.

“Let’s head up to bed,” he suggested, and she pulled a sulky face.

“I don’t want to move,” she pouted, and he chuckled before releasing her hands to swoop down and deftly scoop her up. Bronwyn squealed and looped her arms around his neck when she felt herself slipping. He tightened his hold on her and clutched her possessively close to his chest. Bronwyn nestled her face in his neck and nuzzled his warm, delicious-smelling skin contentedly.

When he reached the bedroom, he gently deposited her on their huge king-size bed, dropping down to join her. He immediately reached for her again, seemingly unwilling to relinquish his hold on her for very long. Bronwyn loved snuggling up against his big, hard body; it always made her feel protected. They did nothing more than stroke and pet, still sated after their shattering bout of lovemaking.

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“Bronwyn, I can’t promise not to make mistakes, and I probably will inadvertently wind up doing stupid things that may hurt you in the future. I’m not perfect. I’m just a man and as flawed—more so—than any other man. But I can promise to love you with the entirety of my heart, protect you with all the strength in my body, cherish you with my mind and soul for the rest of my life and probably beyond that,” he vowed. Bronwyn’s cheek was pressed to his chest, and she couldn’t see his face, but his voice was husky and trembling with the intensity of his emotions and the veracity of his words. “I adore our daughter and with you by my side, I’ll be the best father I can be. If we should be blessed with other children, I’ll adore them too.”

Bronwyn raised her head from its resting place close to his heart and smiled up at him soggily. She adjusted her position sinuously until she was straddling his hips, with her hands braced against his chest.

“I love you too,” she reaffirmed. “Flaws and all, Bryce. The only person who ever demanded perfection from you was you. You’re not perfect, but you’re perfect for me. I’ll cherish and protect your heart today, tomorrow, and forever.” He reached up to cup her face with gentle hands, tugging her down for a fierce kiss.

“Forever?” he asked shakily after releasing her lips. She smiled again before tracing an x across his heart and then dropping her head to kiss the spot she had just marked.

“Yes. Forever.”

Bryce’s broad chest heaved in a shuddering sigh of contentment before he dragged her down to snuggle against his chest. Bronwyn burrowed against him and smiled drowsily when she felt him stroking her hair languidly. They were silent for a few long moments and Bronwyn was on the verge of dozing off when she heard his voice. It was quiet but filled with the awe of a man who was just now recognizing a completely unfamiliar emotion.

“I’m happy.”

That was all anyone could ever ask for.

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EPILOGUE

You’re what?” Bryce stared blankly into Bronwyn’s beaming face. They were in his study, and she had seated herself in the chair opposite his desk.

“Pregnant,” she enunciated and signed the word, but he still blinked stupidly for a few moments. Her chest heaved in a clearly exasperated sigh before she got up, rounded his desk to shout it directly into his ear. “PREGNANT!”

He jumped as his hearing aid squealed. He now had only 45-decibel hearing loss in his right ear after finally deciding to try that operation the year before. He still couldn’t follow conversations very well unless the speaker was sitting close to him, positioned on his right side, and his hearing aid was on. The operation hadn’t really changed his life much—except that his wife and daughter now sometimes felt the need to shout things directly into his ear when they felt he wasn’t paying close enough attention to them. He had only done it to hear Kayla’s laughter, and when he’d heard it for the first time, he had been gratified to learn that she did have her mother’s laugh after all.

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