Skin Page 71

“Okay. What does it mean?” she asked.

“Huh?” His face blanked.

“Nick, you can’t just give a girl a ring without it meaning something. You do know that?”

His forehead furrowed up.

“I mean, it has to say something.”

“What?” he asked. “Why?”

“Come on, Nick. The ring says something. Work with me here, please.”

He looked at the ring like it had suddenly sprouted poisonous tentacles. “I dunno. I just thought you’d like it.”

Honestly, he was such an idiot. He could probably spend an hour explaining the vibrating butt plug to her, but he couldn’t even string together a sentence about the ring. Her mind was officially blown.

“Come on,” she said, voice sounding more than a little aggravated. “Surely there was more thought behind this.”

“So you don’t like it?” His big hand closed around the case and he went to put it away. Like he wanted to die. “It doesn’t matter.”

“Don’t you dare! That’s mine.” She clambered across him, straddling him and wrestling for custody of the ring. And not being gentle about it. “Give it.”

“Ros.” He wisely let go before her teeth could sink into his arm. “Shit. Calm down.”

With the ring case in hand she sat triumphant atop him. One cranky-faced man with a world full of attitude. His lips were a tight, unhappy line. Poor baby. Bad luck, he’d chosen her. Now he’d just have to live with it. She wouldn’t be letting him off the hook anytime soon.

“Alright, I will tell you what the beautiful ring says. Since you clearly find yourself incapable of manning up and dealing with the moment as you should.” Carefully she pulled it front its case and slipped it onto her ring finger. Perfect fit. She gave quiet thanks to the universe at large. “It says that I love you and you love me.”

Nick looked at her and sighed, his face relaxing. “Well, yeah.”

She allowed herself a small, satisfied grin. The ring really did look splendid on her finger. “Exactly.”

“That easy?” he asked.

“You thought that was easy? Hell, Nick. I’d hate to see your version of hard.” She kissed the end of his nose.

“There was some news from Blackstone,” he said, distracting her from pondering her ring’s magnificence. “Duncan’s been keeping an eye on the place.”

“What?”

“Someone killed Tom. Slit his throat.”

“Wow,” she said. Her good mood started to slip through her fingers. “That’s cold.”

“He did kill Lila.” Nick’s eyes were thoughtful. Stuff was happening deep inside his brain. She could feel it. Lila’s death had been so unnecessary, such a stupid waste. Ros hated thinking about it. Maybe if they’d moved faster she’d still be alive. Memories of that night had woken her panting and covered in sweat, more than once. The sounds of the zombies coming out of the dark, surrounding them, and the mindless hatred and fear from the people of Blackstone. Lila had been nothing more than an innocent bystander. The noise Sean had made when he’d lost her … Ros couldn’t forget it. Whoever had killed Tom, she couldn’t bring herself to believe it was entirely a bad thing. If that made her a bad person, well … the world wasn’t what it used to be.

“Hang on,” she said. “You think Sean did it? That he might be alive?”

The man shrugged and drew her down for a kiss. “With the captain, who knows?”

“Nicky. There were a lot of infected and he had her blood all over him.” A shiver worked through her at the thought and she laid her head on his chest. Most sublime place in the world. “God, that was a horrible night.”

“Never again.”

“No,” she seconded.

“I was talking to Dan and Finn today,” he said.

“About?”

“Whether it’d be better to move on or stay here. It is only a few hours from Blackstone.”

His heart beat away beneath her ear, good and strong. The arm of her reading glasses dug into her, but damned if she was moving anytime soon. “Erin and Ali seem to have settled in for the long term. Is Blackstone really a threat? I mean, if we stay out of their way they shouldn’t be a problem, right?”

Nick shrugged, his body shifting beneath her. “They could get angry about Tom’s murder. Who knows what they’re thinking. Duncan and Joe are monitoring the radio, listening to their chatter, but it could still be a risk staying this close. So far as we know, they’re unaware of our location.”

“Other groups out there could be a risk too,” she said, looking up at him. “We just don’t know. But we’ve got walls and a defensible position here. Seems a shame to leave it.”

His smile lit his eyes. “Yeah, we do. That seems to be how the others see it too. But do you want to stay here with these people? There’s no reason we can’t go find another place like the cabin. Set ourselves up comfortably on our own.”

She sat up, staring down at him over the top of her glasses. “Is that what you want? Has someone been giving you a hard time?”

“No, sweetheart. Everyone’s been fine. Surprisingly friendly, actually.” He licked his lips. “But it’s your choice whether we stay or go. Whatever you want is good with me.”

Her heart hurt in the best way possible. “Really?”

“Yeah.”

There was a big wide world out there at their disposal and Nick was doing his best to hand it to her on a platter. Some parts of it were terrifying, but still, whatever she wanted. It was a heady feeling. “You know, I think I’d like to stay here for now.”

“Okay.”

She took a deep breath and let it out slow.

“I love you,” he said, his hands smoothing over her back.

She buried her nose in his neck and smiled. “You do?”

“Absolutely.”

“Hmm.” And that was really all she needed to know.

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