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The Lover's Promise (No Exceptions #3)

By:J.C. Reed

The Lover's Promise (No Exceptions #3)
Author: J.C. Reed


New York City, 3 days earlier.

The past was the past, and the future would be nothing but whatever I made of it. My future was her, our lives interlinked with our hopes and our dreams, and long-forgotten plans. Strange to think that only a few months ago I never thought my life or I would change. I never thought that an encounter with a future employee would result in me actually wanting to take the next step and marry her.

Sitting in the bar, my heart sped up at the thought of what still lay ahead of me. The initial plans had been set in motion. Now it was time to execute them. I was going to do whatever it'd take to distract her, and then in exactly four hours and twenty-five minutes I'd propose to her, after which I'd whisk her away in a private plane for a quick surprise wedding in Las Vegas, leaving my friends to finish the rest of my arrangements and carry out my revenge.

It was supposed to be a simple plan, one I had organized for a long time. Now if only she would say "yes" and play along.

Granted, a marriage proposal came a bit soon in our relationship, maybe too soon, but I had no option-not if my plan was going to work. Soon, he'd find out I'd betrayed him, and he'd try to hurt her to get back at me. The thought of losing her to someone else, of my enemies finding her, made me crazy with rage. For her, to save her from the ones who wanted to hurt her and were after her, I would kill.

Marrying was the least of my problems, not least because I knew deep down that I was ready. Call me foolish, call me desperate. Fuck, call me vengeful, but in my heart I knew what I was doing was the right thing-for her, for us. And while I did not want to control her, I had every intention of doing whatever it might take to make her mine by law. And if by any chance, she wouldn't accept my proposal, or if she needed more time because I was moving too fast for her, then I'd bend her to my will until she realized we belonged together.

"So, this is your big night, huh?" Tiffany's voice penetrated the dark haze covering my mind, drawing my attention back to her. Looking up at one of my oldest friends, I frowned and swallowed down a snarky remark. I hated disruptions, and in particular the kind that took me by surprise when I was immersed in my thoughts. But Tiffany had always had my back, and right now, I couldn't afford to piss her off-not when she was helping me out with my somewhat illegal scheme.

"You could say that." My gaze met her sharp, blue eyes. "Did you get it?"

Tiffany nodded her head. "Custom-made, specifically designed for her." She put a black gift bag on the table and pushed it toward me. "Just as you asked."

My heart fluttered as I pulled a little velvet box out of the bag, my fingers hovering over the soft fabric. For a short moment fear choked me and dark thoughts gathered at the back of my mind. This better not be a mistake. It better be perfect. Of course there was a chance that I might be ruining everything, but as decisions went, I hardly ever backed down on them, so I pushed my dark thoughts away and opened the black case. Relief streamed in waves through me when my eyes caught the ring.

It was a delicate assemblage of gemstones with a two-carat diamond in the middle. Sparkling and gleaming in the soft light of the club, much like Brooke's eyes, which were the reason I had fallen in love with her, it was more beautiful than I had ever envisioned.

The tiny engraving read:

With no exceptions, my love for you doesn't need reciprocation to exist.

Jett x

The setting felt delicate and my decision final. I turned it around a few times, wondering how a piece of metal could feel both delicate and grave at the same time. Now my plans felt more real than ever. Brooke would like it, no doubt about that, but would she say "yes?" As if sensing my doubts, Tiffany cleared her throat, her soft voice drawing my attention back to the conversation at hand.

"She'll love it, Jett. I know it," she whispered, her eyes on the ring.

I suppressed a smile. "Brooke's like no other woman I've ever met. For all I know, she might just throw it at my head when she finds out what I'm really up to."

She let out a laugh. "You're right, I don't know her. But I know she'd be crazy not to like it, especially after you went all the trouble to get it perfect." She pointed at the ring. My gaze moved from her to our laser-inscribed names. They looked alien like they didn't belong to us, and for a moment it all seemed like a strange dream, the past few months eerily surreal. Was that what love was all about? Experiencing a string of events that would all slip away and mold into bittersweet memories?

Forcing my eyes away from the ring, I put it back it into the box and dropped the box back into the gift bag. "Thanks for doing it at such a short notice, Ti. I knew I could count on you to get it done within twenty-four hours."

She flicked her hand. "Don't mention it. Being friends with the owner of the shop has its perks." She smiled softly and leaned forward. "Whatever you need, just call me and it's a done deal." For a short moment, silence ensued between us during which she stirred her coffee with a teaspoon. "So, when does it start?"

"Tonight at dinner. Everything's finished." I returned her smile in a weak moment of excitement rushing through me.

"Have you told her about Nate yet?"

My smile died like a blown-out candle. "About my brother being let out of prison today?" I raised my eyebrows and snorted. "You're kidding, right?"

"What about you visiting with him the past few weeks? Another secret you'll be taking to the grave?"

"Now's not the time." I shook my head, more at myself than at Tiffany. Would there ever be a right moment?

"Seriously?" She stared at me for a few seconds, her face suddenly devoid of any em