didn’t go far—close enough that we could still see the fire, but far enough that the night air was beginning to cool. Bennett took my hand and led me to the base of a wide pine tree. We settled down between two enormous roots, and when I shivered, he wrapped his arms around me, holding me like something precious.
I curled closer to him, my head resting on his chest, just under his chin.
“I remember,” I said quietly. “I remember kissing you.”
“Oh?” he said quietly, fingers stroking lightly down my bare arm.
“Yes,” I said, snuggling closer. I had remembered quite a few things from that night by now. “I remember I liked it.” I laughed, nervous even now. “I remember liking it a lot. But I... I still don’t remember the Elvis impersonator.”
I felt Bennett stiffen a little, and I worried he was still hurt that I didn’t remember our ceremony at all. I could hardly blame him. I’d be furious if my husband had forgotten our wedding.
Even in his stiff silence, his arms stayed curled around me, holding me close. I snuggled further into his warm, the faint sound of the nearby drums soothing me into relaxation. “I wish I could,” I murmured, the warmth and the alcohol conspiring to pull me into sleep. “It sounds like we had fun.”
I don’t know how I got back to the ranch that night. Bennett wouldn’t admit to carrying me, but I couldn’t imagine him letting anyone else do it, not with the possessive way he’d held me when we danced.
By the next morning, Layla seemed perfectly content to stay as long as I needed. Over buttermilk pancakes and fresh blackberries, she confessed that she thought we could both use a vacation.
“I mean, sooner or later we’re gonna have to go back to the real world, but until then?” Her gaze wandered over toward River. “There are worse places to hole up.”
I still didn’t know what my husband did for a living. He said he was “independently wealthy”, and it certainly seemed like he had endless amounts of cash, given the way he lavished me with random, exceedingly expensive, gifts as if he were simply treating me to a Snickers bar. One night he had an expensive new dress waiting for me in our room, telling me he thought we could dress up for dinner that night. Then waiting for us in a small, private dining room was a diamond necklace to match.
The man was full of surprises. On our first full day there, he took me on a quick tour of the grounds, and when we got back, River told him there was a short in the breaker for the cabins and offered to call an electrician. But Bennett waved him off.
“I’ll take a look. I’m sure I can handle it.”
“You’re the boss, boss,” River said with a lazy salute and a bright smile.
I followed Bennett to the breaker, mostly because I didn’t know where else to go. Layla had said she’d be sunning by the lake all day, but I wanted to do something more active. And I wanted to get to know my husband.
He took a path that led around behind the main house, to a room full of more electronics than I could ever identify. Lots of boxes with blinking lights and switches. “What is this, WarGames?” I asked, laughing.
“This,” he said with a smirk, “is the beating heart of the ranch. It’s where all the magic happens.”
He moved to one of the boxes and started fiddling about in it. I watched him, but I couldn’t even guess what he was doing. It seemed complicated.
“I don’t get it,” I said after a moment. “Do you ever even use the cabins?”
“Not really,” Bennett said with a shrug.
“So why do you need to fix the breaker now?”
He was quiet for a moment while he worked, and several emotions I couldn’t identify flitted across his face.
“I like to keep things going,” he said after a while, his voice so quiet I had to strain to hear it over the whirring of fans in the room.
As I watched him work, I mused out loud, “I had no idea you could do all that.”
He winked at me. “Your
The Gathering: The Justice Cycle (Book Three)