(Note to reader: this is an unedited bonus scene that is just for fun! Read at your own risk!)
Graduation Day – Five years before Epilogue
“Did I ever tell you why M&M’s are my snack of choice?” Beretta asks the moment he steps into the house, shaking his candy bag in in one hand, holding a small box in the other.
“Not that I can remember.” I turn to Arsen and kiss his cheek, thanking him for the hot coffee he brought me.
“Check it out.” Beretta drops the box on the floor, turns to the countertop and pours the entire bag onto the cool granite. He pushes them around with his fingers, his eyes lifting to mine.
My lips pull to one side, and I cut a quick glance at Arsen.
He sips his drink, leaning a hip on the opposite side of the island, waiting to hear what Beretta is about to run with, if he doesn’t already know.
Beretta takes one of every color and places them in a row. Lowering his fingertip on one, he slides the candy up, so it now sits on its own.
“When we were young, I was the dumb kid who could hardly read, the son of an alcoholic farm hand that didn’t believe in education and an over worked mama who fought him every night until he finally let me go to school.”
He pushes a second candy up. “Arsen was a raggedy haired, mismatched foster kid who didn’t speak.”
Beretta pushes another M&M up, three now sitting in a row. “Ransom was the skinny kid with dark circles under his eyes who used to steal extra food in the cafeteria when he thought no one was looking.”
His eyes meet mine.
“We were three punk kids, poorer than shit, had no friends, no futures, no hope. We came from different places, looked different.” He taps the blue, then the green, then the brown M&M.
I take a deep breath, realizing what he’s saying and cut a quick glance to Arsen, who winks my way briefly, but keeps his focus on Beretta.
One by one, he bites into each color, setting down what’s left and once again forming a row of three.
“But on the inside, you guys were the same,” I whisper.
Beretta’s grin grows and he leans on his elbows. “Exactly. We were dying to break out, eager to live, desperate to love and even more so to be loved. We were wild, wanton and warriors of our world. On the outside we were a mess, made no sense, but on the inside, we were the same. We weren’t what the world delt us where it mattered.”
Arsen slips closer, snagging an M&M from the abandoned pile and holds it out to me.
With a small pulled grin, I bring the candy to my mouth and bite half of it off, dropping it back into Arsen’s open hand.
He sets it beside the other three, holding his hand over the four of them as he meets my eyes, and then pulls it away, stepping in front of me.
This is Arsen saying neither were you, not where it mattered.
He pushes my hair over my shoulder and gently kisses my forehead. As he shifts away, Beretta is there to do the same.
My eyes gloss over and I nod, squeezing him. “Did I ever tell you why coffee is my drink of choice?”
His smile is soft. “Not that I can remember.”
“Because my mom was a raging bitch, and nothing made me forget it like a steaming latte.”
Beretta laughs loudly and wraps his arms around me.
I hug the man back.
“Love you too, Trouble.” He quickly let’s go, flicking open the velvet box he sat down.
I smile, take a giant drink of the coffee I’ve ignored for far too long, and follow with a deep breath.
Three hours from now we will walk the stage with our class, smiling as we leave our high school years behind, and by this time tomorrow we will also be saying goodbye to Southern California. We’re headed toward the Northern part of the state in search of a place that feels like ours. We have no idea what we want but we know we want out, so when Arsen said he found us a temporary rental equipped with everything Sienna could ever need, we knew that’s where we would search first. So, tomorrow morning we will pick her up, and hit the road.
But tonight we have other plans, the first of which I’m not privy to, but I’m not the only one out of the loop.
I have a bit of a surprise for him too.
Arsen pulls the gold chain from the black velvet pillow it lays in and Beretta slips the matte black band onto it.
Arsen pulls my hair up, smiling down at me while Beretta clasps the piece around my neck.
I lift my hands, moisture building in my eyes as I nod at the two of them, then gently tuck the necklace into my top. The chain is dainty and long, so its reach is to the wire of my bra, which is exactly what I had asked for.
My phone beeps with a text from Monti, letting me know Ransom’s done giving his hour long instructions to Tanner on how he is to pick up Monti and bring her to the stadium for our ceremony. The movers picked up all her belongings yesterday, outside of what she needs to travel with, and they’re already on their way North. If we timed everything correctly, the beds and furniture will be set up by the time we arrive.
The front door opens, so I smooth my black dress at my sides and wink at the boys, going back to drinking my coffee while acting like it’s a normal ass day.
Ransom wastes no time wrapping his arms around me and tugging me to him. He kisses my neck, pulling back with a smirk. “Ready?”
He nods, and the four of us head outside.
I move toward the new Yukon we customized with Sienna in mind, but Beretta grabs my hands and pulls us toward Arsen’s Camaro.
I laugh when the three boys build a wall in front of me.
They don’t say a word, but the cocky way in which they tilt their heads and quirk their brows is all too telling.
I close my eyes.
Chatter of dozens upon dozens, the click of heels and soft laughs of passerby’s, as well as the click of something I can’t place fills my ears, but it’s not enough to give me concrete answers as to where we are.
When the boys insisted I stay blindfolded and allow them to lead me by hand, I agreed without pause, but to say I’m not nervous would be a lie.
Uneasy, never. Not with them.
It’s more of a nervous excitement because at the end of the day, while the boys are easy for me to read, they’re still very much unpredictable.
A few minutes of blindly walking in line with them, we stop, and slowly Ransom’s mouth meets my ear.
“Ignore anything you hear, and let me lead you,” he gives his raspy command.
I know that tone.
It’s his chest deep, greedy...needy growing voice that comes before, well, we do.
It’s his playtime whisper and it has my toes curling in my pumps.
A small bell rings and then cool air meets my skin.
We get two steps forward when a woman speaks in the distance.
“Excuse me, I’m sorry but—”
“I got this,” Beretta’s voice drowns her out.
We don’t stop walking.
“Miss, I need you to remove...hey, what are you—” a second woman is cut off.
Ransom chuckles at my side, and it sends my stomach swirling with anxiousness.
They’re up to something.
He hurries us forward and then there’s a soft click, followed by a second.
My hips are gripped tight and then his lips land on mine.
I don’t hesitate, I wrap my arms around his neck and kiss him back.
It’s deep and chasing at first, but it slows, the heat in my core building as it does.
Ever so slowly, his lips pull free and his forehead falls to mine.
“I love you, Trouble.”
I grin. “I know.”
He growls, but it’s playful, and he spins me so I’m facing away from him. His lips find my ear once more. “Take off the blindfold, baby.”
I do as he says and my hand freezes half in the air, the blindfold still stuck on my head as I’m met with a mirror.
A familiar, three panel mirror.
A laugh bubbles out of me and Ransom helps the bandana off the rest of the way.
I glance at him over my shoulder, slowly stepping forward and turning to face him.
“The exact dressing room we cornered you in the first time we officially met?” He quirks a brow, inching closer as his eyes grow dark. “Yes, it is.”
My chest raises with a deep inhale and I hold it.
He reaches me, but quickly slips to the side and I turn as he reaches for the chaise tucked in the corner, grips the legs, and yanks it out, a loud screech echoing around us.
My muscles twitch.
He drags the flashy piece to the center of the dressing room, the curled edge inches in front of the mirror.
When he turns back, he does so linking his hands in mine and tugging me close.
His lips nip at my bottom one. “I wanted you the day I saw you, and then I spoke to you and I knew I had to have you. It was beyond want, beyond need. I don’t know what you call that, but that’s what it was.”
My lips curl and his blue eyes fall to my mouth.
He licks his own. “When I stepped into this dressing room my mind went haywire, and I had a lot of long nights that followed with a single vision in my head.”
I clench my thighs.
My man’s voice is growing rougher, his breaths shallower.
His eyes pop up to mine. “Turn around for me baby.”
I do as he says, my body starting to shake as his once did.
It doesn’t anymore.
He’s come a long way.
He’s bossy and needy and perfect.
Again, I know what he’s after.
I don’t just turn around, I place my knees on the soft material and lay my forearms on the edge, my eyes flicking up and meeting his as he climbs on behind me, his coarse palms lifting my dress up and over my hips.
But as he reaches up to grip my hair, and push it over one shoulder, the golden necklace tucked into my top, slips free, the band attached to it clinking against the glass before us.
Ransom’s eyes fall and his muscles grow taught.
Ever so slowly, he sits back on his feet, his blue gaze finding mine.
A hint of bashfulness warms my skin as sit back on mine as well, staring at him through the mirror, before turning my head over my shoulder, my body shifting last.
A heavy crease forms between his brows as he reaches out, sliding his fingers behind the band to hold it in his palm.
“Baby...” he whispers.
“You were right before, when you said I was trying to hold onto the one thing that linked me to my dad...the Filano name.”
He looks to me.
“I didn’t know it at the time or I guess I might of, I don’t know, but...I—”
“Stop stalling, Trouble.” He shifts closer, his hand closing over the ring and gently towing me to him. “What is this?”
“The only person I want to hold onto, is you,” I tell him point blank. “You’re going to be my husband, Ransom Rossi, and this is the ring you’re going to wear once you are.”
“You’re taking my job, asking me to marry you?” he says instantly, a hint of strain in his tone.
“No.” I shake my head, my smirk growing. “I’m not asking, I’m telling. You will be my husband.”
His grin grows wild, and he tips his chin. “Now? Tonight?”
I laugh lightly, shaking my head. “Not now, not tomorrow or even the next day, but you will marry me, and until then I’m going to keep it right where it is,” I whisper, bringing my mouth a breaths space from his as I wrap my fingers around his wrist and press it against my left breast.
He understands, kisses me slow and bites at my lips when I dare pause for a breath.
Ransom flips me how he wants and shows me exactly what he’s fantasized about since the day our eyes met.
And holy shit, what a fantasy it was...
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