The Billionaire's Embrace Page 64

I lost track of time. It seemed to go on forever, our bodies moving as one, Regan meeting each thrust and moaning beneath me. Her cries became louder and more frequent, and as her body tensed, muscles drawing taut, I realized belatedly that she was about to come.

“Let go, my sweet one,” I told her, and she shuddered and clenched rhythmically around me.

Feeling her flutter around my cock was the last straw. I quickened the pace of my thrusts, my orgasm building swiftly, and within a few strokes I was in its grasp, helpless, shaken.

We came down together, slowly.

I stroked her sweaty hair back from her forehead and kissed her, our noses bumping together. She smiled at me and stretched, lithe and lovely.

“I feel like I need to smoke a cigarette after that,” I said.

She laughed. “Have you ever smoked in your life?”

“In college, a few times. I thought I was cool. I wasn’t.” I stroked her breasts, no longer sexually interested but still happy to touch them as long as they were exposed. “I have to go deal with this condom,” I said.

“Okay. Then come back and cuddle with me,” she said.

I grinned, and pulled out of her carefully. “Your wish is my command,” I said. I padded into the bathroom, turning in the doorway to look back at her. “And tomorrow we’ll go buy rings.”

“And then what?” she asked. “What comes next, after that?”

“After that, we’ll just be happy,” I said. “We’ll keep on being happy. For the rest of our lives, I guess.”

She smiled at me like the sun breaking through the clouds.


Three Years Later

“Nicholas Brandon!”

“Chizoma Buhari!”

I waited.

“Phuoc Bui!”

Regan’s mother leaned over. “She next?”

I nodded. “I think so,” I whispered back.

The man at the podium looked down at his list. “Regan Cabatu!”

Rubylyn squeezed my arm so tightly that it hurt, but I didn’t mind. I felt the same way.

Regan, beaming, climbed the steps onto the stage. Her black gown was too large, and her mortarboard was slightly askew, but she looked beautiful: glowing, triumphant. She crossed to the man at the podium, who shook her hand and gave her the blue tube containing her hard-won diploma.

Beside me, Regan’s mother used a crumpled tissue to wipe away her tears.

“Joanna Canter!” the man called, already on to the next graduate, and Regan sailed off the stage and disappeared down the steps at the other side.

We wouldn’t see her until after the ceremony. I settled in to wait. I had my phone with me, of course, but I thought it would be rude to start replying to work emails while other families were still waiting for their loved one’s name to be called. Regan’s mother pulled out her knitting and continued work on an unidentifiable tube of yarn.

When the commencement ended at last, we fought our way outside through the crowds to the corner of 34th Street, where Regan and I had agreed to meet. She was waiting there already, holding her cap and diploma in one hand and shading her eyes with the other, searching for me in the crowd.

I nudged Regan’s mother. “There she is,” I said, pointing.

Rubylyn shoved her tote bag at me and hustled down the sidewalk, calling Regan’s name. Regan, hearing her, turned toward us, and I saw the exact moment that she realized who was calling to her, because an expression of shock and joy came over her face.

By the time I reached Regan’s side, she and her mother were hugging and crying. I slung Rubylyn’s bag over my shoulder and watched them, my heart so full I felt like it might burst.

They disentangled after several minutes, and Regan turned to me, her face streaked with tears. “You didn’t tell me,” she wailed.

“Surprise,” I said, and she launched herself at me. I caught her, laughing, and spun her in a circle, kissing her wet face. I set her down and said, “I’m so proud of you.” I bent to kiss her: Regan, my lovely wife.

“You flew my mother out here?” she asked. “How did you—how long have you been planning this?”

“Months,” I said. “And you told me I’m terrible at keeping secrets! Eat your words, Cabatu.” She had, of course, refused to change her name when she married me. I had been a little hurt when we first discussed it, but she explained that she felt that changing her name would mean denying her heritage, and then I understood. I never wanted her to feel invisible, or erased.

“I’m eating them,” she said, eyes crinkling with her smile. She turned to her mother and said something in Tagalog, and Rubylyn laughed and nodded.

“Are you ladies hungry?” I asked. “Late lunch? We don’t need to be at my mother’s until 7:00, and I imagine we’ll all be starving by then.”

“I could eat,” Regan said, taking my hand, and I smiled at her. She was always hungry, lately.

Well. It made sense. She was, after all, eating for two.

Her mother didn’t know yet. We were planning to break the news at dinner that night. I was eagerly anticipating my mother’s protestations that she couldn’t possibly be old enough to become a grandmother.

We walked south on 11th, toward Chelsea. It was a lovely spring day, not too hot. As we strolled along, I slung one arm around Regan’s shoulders and said, “So what happens next?”

“Well, law school,” she said. “And, you know.” She glanced at her mother, who was gawking at her surroundings and didn’t appear to be paying attention. “Children.”

“More than one?” I asked, faking horror. “Do you really think that two only children can successfully raise a brood of offspring?”

“We’ll start with one, and see how it goes,” she said.

“Sure,” I said. “And then what?”

“And then we’ll be happy,” she said firmly.

I squeezed her shoulders. “I think we already are.”

She looked up at me and smiled, and said, “I know. We really are.”