“There you are!”
Miranda closed her eyes at the sound of the familiar voice, her hands pausing on the keyboard. After Saturday…she wasn’t sure she could look at him without bursting into tears. But Declan never gave up. Even going to the computer lab instead of the physics lab to work on her paper hadn’t deterred him from finding her. No doubt he had some new mystery to solve…
“Declan, whatever it is, can’t it wait until tomorrow?” she pleaded, knowing that tomorrow would still be too soon but needing to buy time. “I’ve got a paper–”
Next thing she knew, he was in front of her, staring at her over the monitor. “No, it can’t. Miranda…we need to talk.”
“Declan, I’m busy–”
“I’m sorry about Saturday–”
Oh, God, he was going to try to make it right again. As if it ever could be, knowing for sure–
“–I’d just taken this huge risk and when you said…you didn’t know what to say…I panicked. I got scared I’d just made the biggest mistake of my life–”
“–but the mistake was taking it back.”
She froze. Her hands stopped searching for something to do. Her eyes stopped looking everywhere but at him.
“Miranda, look at me.” Declan’s voice was soft; the finger that he used to coax her chin upwards so their eyes met was gentle. And his eyes…oh God, his eyes…they were warm and brimming like a steaming cup of coffee with everything she’d ever dreamed in vain of seeing in them. “I meant every word I said. I love you, Miranda, and even if Peggy’s wrong and you don’t love me too, I’m not gonna deny it. ‘Cause that wouldn’t be fair to either one of us.”
Dizzy with a sort of delirious, delighted disbelief, Miranda’s mind lunged desperately for the one word in that sentence that wasn’t cloaked in this intoxicating haze. “P-Peggy?”
He nodded, a warm, loving smile spreading across his face. “I know you went to her in confidence, Miranda, but she said she thought I needed to know. That if I didn’t we’d both make ourselves miserable over a misunderstanding.”
“So, was she right?” he asked almost huskily, cocking his head to one side and watching her with deep, mocha intensity. A flicker of worry danced through those eyes, and he made a joke to cover it: “‘Cause if this is Peggy’s idea of a practical joke–”
“NO.” Fear of losing this moment again finally gave her own thoughts voice as one hand shot out of its own will, grasping his where it rested on the table before her. “No, Declan…it’s no joke.” The next part came out in a tender whisper. “I love you…so much. I have as long as I’ve known you. I just never thought…especially after…”
“Emma.” A grimace twisted his face as his hand tightened in turn on hers, his voice grim with regret.
Without releasing her, he circled around the edge of the table so that he was crouched beside her chair. Taking her other hand in his, he drew her towards him until their faces almost touched, then closed his eyes and rested his forehead against hers with a quiet sigh. “I know I said I hadn’t felt the way I felt about Emma since I was a kid…but I’ve never felt like this, Miranda. I’ve never felt about anyone the way I feel about you. That was a crush. This…this is the real thing.”
Feeling like her chest would explode, Miranda drew back, one tear slipping stubbornly out of her eye and high-tailing it south. Mouth open in wonder, she struggled to find something to say.
Declan shushed her softly. “Don’t say anything.”
Releasing one hand to run lazy fingers over her collarbone, under the dark waves of her hair and up the back of her neck, he drew her face down to his once again, this time meeting in an infinitely tender kiss. The kind of kiss you only saw in the movies between two people who had been lovers forever, two people who knew they had all the time in the world and intended to make every moment priceless. Overwhelmed with that quiet, timeless desire, she fell into him, her arms twining around his neck as he pulled her closer, hands possessively curling around her back.
When they released each other, Miranda reflected that she’d never understood before this moment what it meant to be breathless. Fighting for air and fighting the longing to cut it off again, she threaded her fingers into the short hairs at the back of his neck and smiled. An absurd thought occurred to her, making her laugh low and soft in her throat.
“What?” he demanded, his own voice deeper and deliciously roughened.
She smiled, bringing one hand around to trace the shape of his cheekbone with her thumb, barely brushing the rim of his glasses. “In the movie, ‘Clue,’ Professor Plum and Miss Scarlet made out on the couch in the…lounge, I think…to help hide a body…but I always thought it was just an excuse…”
Declan snorted playfully, tightening his hold so she was drawn back into his embrace. “Who needs an excuse?”