“All the better,” Mal said. “We’re ready to go if you are.”
Amery scanned them. “Aren’t you supposed to have a baby with you?”
“Didn’t work out,” Chrysabelle said. And at this point, she didn’t really care. She just wanted to be done with Tatiana and the whole sordid mess. She’d deal with the KM when the time came.
Mortalis went to the hangar door, chucked the car keys into the night, and walked back. “Let’s go.”
Chrysabelle got on the plane first. The sooner she could ditch this bloody dress, the better. She headed straight for her bag and the clothes she’d worn in.
Mortalis stopped her from opening the closet, his six fingers splayed out on the sleek ivory exterior. “I know you want to change, but wait until we’re airborne. We need to get out of here as soon as we can, and Amery won’t take off until you’re in your seat. He’s a stickler like that.”
“Okay.” She sat down and buckled in as Mortalis joined Amery in the cockpit.
Mal sat beside her and took her hand. “I know things didn’t go as planned, but we got your brother out and didn’t lose anyone. Could have been much worse.”
She nodded. The plane started rolling forward. “Octavian claimed to be the one who took the pictures of Damian after Tatiana had him beaten. I would have never guessed he was KM.”
“That explains how you got the child from him and his reluctance to attack you.” Mal was quiet for a moment. “She’ll kill him if she suspects.”
She sighed and stared at their interwoven fingers. “I suppose he knew the risks going in. He let her turn him.” She looked at Mal, into those dark, comforting eyes that hadn’t changed despite Dominic’s disguise. “He might have been drifting toward the other side.” She shrugged. “The noble life has its perks.”
The forces of takeoff shoved them back. Mal brought her hand to his mouth and kissed it. “Tatiana claimed him as consort. That’s as close to being married as most vampires get.”
She broke eye contact, shifting her gaze to her lap. And what was left of her mother’s wedding dress.
He let her hand go. “Dress is kind of ruined.”
She nodded. “I don’t think Maris would mind. It was a good cause.”
“Do you ever think about… marriage?”
She laughed before she realized he was serious. “That’s not part of the comarré plan. Ever.”
“You’re not comarré anymore. Haven’t been for a while, really.”
She inhaled deeply. “Your disguise is starting to fade. I can see your face coming through underneath.”
“Don’t change the subject.”
The strands of something bright and frightening worked through her belly. “I…” Her ability to breathe had been compromised by the thoughts he’d put into her head. “Is there a reason you want to know?”
Silver sparkled in his gaze. “I’m not getting any younger.”
“You’re not really getting any older, either.”
“Chrysabelle, you know what I mean. I love you. You love me. Why shouldn’t we make things more permanent?”
“Permanent is a long time.”
“Something we both understand very well.”
“Maris and Dominic didn’t work. Why would you and I be any different?”
“Because we would be. We’re not them. There aren’t any secrets between us.” He laid his hand over hers. “You’re trembling and your heart rate is going at the same speed as this plane. I didn’t mean to scare you, so I’ll just drop it.” He settled back into his seat and closed his eyes, but even she could tell he was disappointed.
“You really do love me, don’t you?”
He answered without opening his eyes. “Enough that it frightens me, too.”
His being scared made it a little easier to take. Like they were both on the same side of things, which they were, but his words just solidified how true that was. She loved him. She did. She wasn’t comarré anymore and shouldn’t be bound by any of those rules or standards. Didn’t want to be, really. What she wanted was a life of her own, where the decisions she made came from her heart and not a head full of rules. Fingers shaking, she unbuckled her seat belt and stood.
He looked up at her, the last vestiges of his disguise slipping off his skin. “Leaving?”
“I need to get out of this dress.” She held her quivering hand out to him and tried to keep her heart from exploding and her voice from cracking. “Maybe… maybe you could help me?”
His mouth opened, but no sound came out. He licked his bottom lip and blinked slowly. “Are you asking me—”
He was out of his seat a split second later and pulling her into his arms. “It’s been a really long time since I… helped a woman out of her dress.”
“Well, it’s been never for me.” She smiled at the absurdity of her nerves. “We’ll figure it out, though, right?”
Eyes shining silver, he kissed the corners of her smile and she realized she wasn’t the only one trembling. “Hell, yes.”
Behind the closed door of the plane’s bedroom, with Chrysabelle in his arms, the throb of her life in his veins and the full impact of what they’d just done, there was no way Mal wasn’t asking her again. So he did, inciting the voices to levels that would have been unbearable if not for the fresh blood in his system. “Marry me.” Fool fool fool.