As he turned back, she said, “Seth, I...” Her eyes fluttered shut as she took a deep breath.
Watching her breasts rise as she drew in air, he also noticed how one shoulder was a good two inches lower than the other. “Why don’t you take your boots off? That can’t be comfortable.”
“It’s not,” she admitted, cheeks aglow.
While she sat on the bed, he moved to the window. He’d known it was going to be hard, but this was painful, keeping his hands off her. His lips off hers.
“I don’t even know where to start,” she said softly.
He turned, found her standing near the foot of the bed, stocking footed.
“I’m so sorry, I know my actions—”
Shaking his head, he moved toward her, until his finger touched her lips. “I’ll tell you where to start.”
Her expression grew even more serious as she nodded.
Trailing his finger from her lips to beneath her chin, he said, “Are you still engaged to Martin Clark?”
Frowning, she shook her head. “No.” Her cheeks grew red. “I lied about that, too.”
Seth held his breath at the joy erupting inside him.
“I lied to you about so many things. I—”
His finger went back to her lips. “There’s only one thing I want to know. If it was a lie or not.”
Her eyes had grown teary and her lips quivered beneath his touch as she nodded.
He removed his finger. “When you said you loved me, was that a lie?”
“No,” she whispered. “That was the truth. Still is. I love you very, very much.”
The rushing of his blood had him light-headed for a moment. His palm cupped her cheek. “That’s all I need to know.”
She wobbled and he caught her waist with his other hand.
“I do, however, have something to tell you.” He drew a breath while waiting until her eyelids opened, before he said, “Once, not that long ago, I promised I’d never hurt you, and yet that’s exactly what I did. I knew you weren’t Rosemary from the beginning, yet I never said anything. I’m ashamed of that. I should have told you, but I was afraid.”
“You were afraid?” she whispered.
“Yes, very. I still am.” Seth took a breath, knowing he had to come clean before they could start over. “I didn’t want to fall in love with you. Didn’t want to love anyone.”
He ran his finger down the side of her face, wiping at an escaping tear. “Because losing someone you love is very painful.”
“Yes, it is,” she whispered. “But never knowing love is worse.”
The sincerity in her eyes was so profound his breath burned his lungs.
“I never knew love until I met you,” she said. “Never imagined how splendid life could be.”
Her gentle smile was contagious. “We are quite splendid together, aren’t we?”
She let out a tiny giggle. “I think so.”
He’d never experienced such a reprieve. Such joy. “Me, too.”
Her gaze, still holding his, grew serious. “How did you know I wasn’t Rosemary?”
Seth knew now exactly what it was. Had discovered it back in Richmond. Framing her face with both hands, he caressed the delicate skin. “Your eyes. No one has eyes like yours. They melted my heart the first time I saw them. They’re gorgeous, and so...” He found himself choking up. “So full of kindness and generosity, and love.” He tilted her head back, wanting so badly to kiss her. “I love you, Millie.”
Millie wondered if her heart was going to beat its way right out of her chest, and her throat was so full of emotions words couldn’t filter through. Which didn’t matter because Seth leaned down just then and kissed her so tenderly she swooned.
His hands went to her waist, held her close, as his gentle kiss filled her entire being with pure and precious love. He’d kissed her before, but somehow, this kiss did more. It made her whole, the one thing she’d never been before.
When his lips slipped away, she wobbled slightly, and had to look down to find him when her eyes opened.
Seth was on one knee, looking up at her. “Millie St. Clair, will you marry me?”
Covering her gasp with one hand, she sucked in another gulp of air, afraid she might faint as she had back in Washington. She hadn’t expected this. Well, not yet. She hadn’t told him everything. Hadn’t apologized a hundred times over, and told him about little Louie, or that Rosemary had moved to England, and that as Millie, she’d never, ever lie to him again.