“Yeah, ready for the kind of relationship that will ruin you for anyone else. Not that we have to worry about that because I know this is a forever kind of thing.”
“You’re so confident,” she said, shaking her head, a grin pulling at her lips.
“Yeah, because I know what I want, and when I want something as bad as I want you, I know I’ll do anything to keep it.”
“I admire that about you.”
“Good…because I’ve never been in love, and I want to do this right. I want to do you right. I read once that being someone’s first love is great, but to be their last is beyond perfect. I want that with you, and I don’t care how crazy that sounds.”
Looking away, she pulled in a deep breath before looking back at him. “You scare me shitless, Karson King, because I have decided to trust you. I hope to God that everything you say will be true because cancer broke me into a billion pieces, and I’m just now putting that all back together. Picking all those pieces up again would be the hardest thing I would ever have to do, so please don’t break me.”
Cupping her face, he leaned in, running his nose along hers before he whispered, “There won’t be any pieces to pick up because I’m not breaking you. I’ll hold you together. You’ll never face anything without me right there. I’ll be there until the end. I promise you that.”
“I trust you.”
That was all he needed to hear.
Their relationship was on the fast track from that moment on. It was intense and maybe a little insane, but Lacey wouldn’t have it any other way. She was falling madly for him, and she wasn’t the least bit ashamed of it. Wherever Karson was, Lacey was, and vice versa. They were constantly together, studying, going out, and just enjoying each other. She had never felt so free in her life, and she knew it was because of him. He made her feel alive, like the most beautiful girl in the world, and he continually told her that. She had never felt so strongly about someone, and despite Rachel and Grady telling her she was nuts for falling for him so quickly, she still allowed herself to do so.
It was just that Karson made everything feel so right, so perfect, as if it was meant to be. He made her feel as if there was nothing but them, and she loved that about him. And boy, could he make her hotter than anybody ever had before. Lacey wasn’t a virgin, not by a long shot. Growing up around nothing but Grady’s friends, she’d lost her virginity when she was sixteen, but there was a difference between fooling around with boys and being with Karson.
He made her feel so special with each touch. They hadn’t had sex, but there had been heavy touching and rubbing because he said he wanted to wait. What twenty-year-old guy wanted to wait? Karson King did because he wanted her to be completely ready and trust him. It was night and she was thankful because every time they fooled around and things got hot and heavy, her anxiety was always high when his hands gravitated toward her breasts. She knew she needed to tell him about them, but she couldn’t bring herself to do it. She loved their relationship and didn’t want to feel the sting of rejection if he felt he couldn’t deal with it. In her heart she knew that wasn’t true, but still, it made her nervous.
Along with spending every waking moment together, they never missed an event for the other person either. Every game, Lacey was there, Karson’s number written on her cheek with Rachel right beside her, Grady’s number on her cheek. Grady still wasn’t okay with Karson and Lacey being together, but at least he hadn’t tried to swing at Karson in the last two months. When Lacey performed with the Catappellas, Karson was front row, watching every moment, and the loudest person cheering when they finished a set. They had a routine; Karson walked her to every class and was always there at the end to greet her before rushing off to his own. She wasn’t sure how he got away with missing so much, but he guaranteed her it wasn’t a big deal, that he was passing. She was fine with whatever he was doing as long as she got to see him. Call her selfish, but she valued the time she got to spend with him since, more than likely, he’d be going into the draft. After being picked for a team, he’d be shipped off to whichever team chose him. He had been flying out a lot, interviewing with all kinds of teams, and it was nerve-racking, but she was so proud of him.
While she prayed every night that the Blackhawks chose him, she knew that was probably not going happen since they were on the road to the Cup, and they wouldn’t get the first draft pick. Karson wasn’t sure, but he promised, no matter what, she would always be the keeper of his heart. She was grateful for that and trusted him, but she also knew that her man would probably go to some team that was rebuilding somewhere far away. She believed that nothing could derail their love. She loved him so hard that it was scary. The more she thought about it, the more she knew that if he asked her to go, she’d go without hesitation.
Looking across the table at her father, she smiled when he met her gaze. His mouth curved in a grin, and it made her heart happy. Her dad had aged so much over the last couple of years, and she knew it was her fault. She knew he loved her though, and that eased the guilt a little bit, but she wished she could take the hard years away.
“Daddy, can I invite Karson to dinner next Sunday?”
Grady looked up as Rachel glanced up, too. Rachel had been coming to Sunday dinners since Grady asked her out, but Lacey hadn’t brought Karson yet. Even though they had been together for two months, she figured it would be a tough pill for her dad to swallow, knowing his daughter was involved with someone. He had always been so overprotective. He knew about Karson and he seemed indifferent to it all, but still Lacey wanted to include Karson in their family get-togethers.