“Because you want to be mayor. It’s not all about the money. I know you can do a good job and I think we could be happy here. I believe you love me, Riley. You don’t have anything to prove. You’ve always been a better man than you believed.”
He drew her close and hugged her. Feelings flooded him—feelings he’d never had before. “I love you. I want you to know that.”
He looked at her and grinned. “Practicing?”
“Should I be?”
“Absolutely. I bought you a ring.”
He kissed her and in the background he heard cheering. “I think I just lost my authority with the staff,” he said.
“No, they’ll work harder because they care about you.”
He kissed her again and breathed in the scent of her. “Marry me, Gracie. Marry me and let me take care of you. Let me love you and prove it each and every day.”
She looked into his eyes and smiled. “Only if you let me love you back.”
She sighed. “You’ve officially violated the three F’s, big guy. They’re going to throw you out of the club.”
He cupped her cheeks and let himself get lost in her. “There’s only one F. Falling. Falling for Gracie.”
THEY HELD the rehearsal dinner at Bill’s Mexican Grill because it was Los Lobos and where else would they hold it?
“We only have a few minutes,” Riley said as he glanced at his watch, then at the big television Bill had wheeled into their private banquet room.
Gracie leaned against him. “I can’t believe Zeke is going to be on Jay Leno. Isn’t that the best?”
“It’s pretty great,” he said, although not his idea of the best. The best was being with Gracie. He would marry her in the morning, and then they would fly to Hawaii for a romantic, albeit short, honeymoon. They had to be back in five days for the swearing-in ceremony.
“If you’re going to be called His Honor, the mayor, do I get to be Mrs. His Honor, or am I Her Honor?”
He chuckled. “I haven’t a clue.”
“It’s time,” Vivian said from the far side of the table. “I wonder if we’ll be able to see Alexis in the audience. She must be so nervous.”
“But proud,” Tom said.
Riley glanced at the younger couple. They weren’t engaged yet, but they were dating and Gracie had high hopes.
“Turn up the TV,” someone called.
Gracie hit the volume button on the remote, then she tucked her arm around Riley’s and sighed.
“You know I love you, right?” she whispered.
She looked at him. “About that family we wanted to start right away….”
His heart stopped. He felt the absence of thudding and everything else went still. “Gracie?”
She leaned close and lowered her voice. “I have a stick I peed on earlier. Want to see?”
He started to laugh. As Zeke had just told his first joke, everyone else joined in. Riley pulled Gracie onto his lap and started to kiss her. They would tell their friends and family later. Right now it was enough to know and have her close and in love with him.
“You’re sure?” he asked, more delighted than he could say.
“Absolutely.” She grinned. “This is going to make the town love you more.”
“But you’re the one I care about.”
“Sure, but I’ll have competition. All the old ladies in town will start knitting. It’s going to be great.”
“The best,” he said. “You always make it the best.”