By: Skye Jordan

Applause erupted through the auditorium. Laughter tingled through her belly, and she delighted in seeing this confident, gregarious side of him.

“I thought so, I thought so,” Troy said. “But I won’t take this special night away from our true star.”

He faced Giselle, growing quiet and serious. And as if the crowd could sense his mood, they also grew quiet. He met her eyes, and everyone else faded. Nothing mattered but the man in front of her and the way he filled her with happiness and laughter and love.

He picked up her hand and threaded their fingers, and while he never broke their gaze, he still spoke into the microphone, sharing this very intimate moment with everyone.

“It’s no secret how much I love you, Ellie. Or how long I’ve loved you,” he said, his voice smooth and rich and soft. “But some days just…intensify…that love. Like today.”

Giselle reached for his free hand, and he held it, but only for a moment. Then he let go to reach into his pocket and pull out a small box, and watched himself turn it in his fingers. Her heart flipped with surprise, and the importance of his impromptu visit suddenly took root, spreading tingles through her whole body.

“And a little bird told me…that you believe in keeping love grounded in simplicity.” Troy tucked the microphone beneath one arm and used both hands to hold the box. “I can’t think of anything simpler than finding myself spending every free moment just thanking God for the day you were born. Or thanking God for the day you were brought into my life.”

Her heart swelled until her ribs ached. Tears blurred her vision.

Then, as he held her gaze, he gracefully lowered to one knee, took her hand in his and offered her the box with the other. “I’d like to spend the rest of my life thanking God for the day you agreed to be my wife.”

She gasped, and her mouth dropped open. Her tears spilled over. She heard a faint gasp around the edges of the room before everything drowned in the thud of her heartbeat.

Time slowed as she sat stunned, watching Troy scan her face, his expression open and vulnerable and so hopeful. Saw his mouth edge up with a grin. A warm, loving, I-can’t-live-without-you grin.

She felt, more than heard, the words, “Yes, absolutely, there’s nothing I want more” roll out of her mouth on a messy mix of laughter and tears, before she fell into his arms and kissed him to the applause of a thrilled crowd. To balloons and confetti falling from the rafters and littering the ice. To performers skating in circles around them, wrapping them in streamers as Troy slipped the ring on her finger.

She pulled back, brushing confetti from his hair, laughing. “God, I love you.”

“Mmm, baby, I swear every day I couldn’t love you more. Then I do.”

He kissed her again, then picked her up, wrapped his arms around her, and skated around the rink with her while the cast and crew served cake and drinks to the audience.

At the first opportunity, he skated off the ice and ducked out of sight behind a stage curtain and pulled her in for a longer, deeper kiss, and she understood why he’d taken her off the ice.

He broke away to drag in air, his smile so wide, so joyful. “The ring isn’t your birthday present.”

She combed her fingers through his hair and pressed her mouth to his throat. She wanted to eat him. “No?”

“No. We leave for Turks and Caicos in an hour. A week of tropical bliss—that is your birthday present.”

Giselle pulled back, grinning, dizzy and dreamy, unable to place the location—maybe somewhere near the Bahamas? Bermuda? “Turks and Caicos?”

“Turks and Caicos,” he whispered, diving in for another kiss. “My angel deserves a little slice of heaven now and then.”

She fisted his hair and kissed him hard, stroking his mouth with all the need built up over the days and nights they’d spent apart on the road, before pulling back and meeting his eyes deliberately. “Hmm. I bet we’ll even find time to sneak in a little lick of hell into that slice of heaven. Devils need love too.”

Her devil agreed with a laugh that mirrored the hot curve of his mouth and the burning kiss that followed.

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