"I'm so tired," I whisper with a lazy grin.

"I agree with that statement."

"How much sleep did we get?"

"An hour."

"Jesus... Do you think we'll last until tonight?"

"I think we'll leave a little early to rest before the party?"

"I'm totally good with that."

He presses his lips to my hair and I watch as Andre strolls up to a guy in a van.

"It was worth it though," I smile, looking up. Tristan's golden hair shines bright and perfect and when he looks down at me, I simply stare, unsure as to how I found a man so utterly beautiful.

"And I agree with that statement."

"Guys!" Andre calls, gesturing us over. "This is Ronaldo. He's the architect. He designed this church."

The man has silver-hair and is wearing a suit- surprising me in this weather.

"This is my sister, Genevieve and Tristan Maddox, her boyfriend," Andre states as Tristan extends his hand.

"Nice to meet you, Ronaldo."

"No, it's a pleasure to meet you both. They were playing your statement on TV last night."

Tristan smiles awkwardly, nodding. "Oh?"

"I'm glad you guys are able to be together. This woman was an angel sent to you."

"She still is."

My heart jumps to my throat and I feel my face reddening as my brother looks between us. I honestly think he likes Tristan but I'm just waiting for him to pull me aside.

"Would you like to see inside? We just got up the stained glass."

I grin. "Love to."

We do a walk through of the building and I can't help but be extremely proud of Andre. He's so sure of his work- so confident with it and it shows. Every curve, every angle of this place is precisely done.

Tristan is asking questions, completely present and it only makes me care about him more. I don't know if this is what he wants to be doing right now but he's making an effort... He knows how important my brother is to me and that is everything. I so badly want them to get along.



I open my eyes, stretching and take in my surroundings. I'm in the hotel room, still in the clothes from earlier today. I grin, throwing an arm over my face as Tristan looks down at me, already showered.

"Please tell me I have another thirty minutes."

"I'm afraid not," he chuckles, rubbing my back. I inhale, rubbing my eyes sleepily as he stands up, grabbing a shirt off the loveseat. I turn to look at him, staring in admiration.

He's in dark jeans and a cream-colored sweater. I watch as he grabs his watch on the dresser, setting it onto his wrist.

"I got a call... From my lawyer."

Oh no. "About Casey?"

"Yes... This deal isn't seeming too locked in anymore."

I sit up, immediately aware. "Tristan, your father is going to jail because you did this deal. They have to keep their word, don't they?"

He looks over at me, his lips pressed tightly together. "I have connections, Genevieve but I don't know. I really don't."

I lick my lips in frustration, feeling anxious. I'm on my feet within seconds, walking up to him. "So, what does it mean if she doesn't get prison time?"

"It doesn't matter. She doesn't have anything on me anymore."

"But- but she deserves to go to jail for what she did!"

"Don't you think I know that? My father's in prison right now because of her!" he exclaims, looking down at me angrily.

"Yes, I think you do... So why aren't you fighting it?"

I sense him shut down immediately. "I don't want to talk about this."

My face contorts with confusion. "Why not?"

He grabs his cell off the nightstand, moving around my outstretched arm.

"Tristan- talk to me."

I hear the door shut behind him and close my eyes. Dammit. Dammit.

I'm trying to get the knot on the back of my dress when I hear the door unlock with the swipe of the key thirty minutes later. I don't turn around as I try to get the top of my halter dress tied.

I managed to get ready although I'm not used to fighting like this with him. We have such a calm relationship... It always seems to be this damn woman that's pulling us apart- even when she isn't around.

Frustrated, my teeth grind together as I hear the door close.

My body relaxes immediately though as I feel his hands on mine, grabbing the strings. Holding the front, I wait as he ties it at his own, controlled pace. I stare at the rug, unsure of what I'm supposed to say to him. I don't know what the hell is going on anymore.

As his fingers leave the fabric, his hands rest of my shoulders, gently.

"I'm sorry." My eyes shut as he wraps his arms around my shoulders, pressing his face to mine. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't take this out on you."

"Tristan... Just tell me what's going on. What are you thinking?"

"I'm thinking I don't want you to have to go through this... I'm thinking my father's trial is coming up and I don't want you to have to endure that. Casey Mathews- I don't know what the hell she wants- from me, from anybody but I don't think she's done. I don't and I don't want you to have to go through that either."

"I'm here, Tristan... I'm not going anywhere. I'm not ashamed to be with you- to go through this with you."

"I know you're not. That's what makes it worse- that I know you'll do it. You'll stand by me until you don't want to anymore. I just want to love you- I just want to be loved by you... Without any of this other bullshit."

I nod, smiling sadly at the helplessness in his voice. "I know... I know this is taking a toll on you and you know what? That's okay. You're completely entitled but don't shut me out. I'm not going anywhere."

He remains silent but I feel his arms come around me tighter.

"You need to let me in, Tristan. I don't want to just see the man you decide to show me- I want to see every part of you, good and bad."

"I know. I'm just not used to it."

"I think we're doing okay, considering what we've been through, don't you?"

"Yeah, I do... I just want us to stay like this. Where we can laugh and joke and make love until the crack of dawn without having to wonder when my phone is going to ring next."

"Well, it hasn't rung in a while... So that's good, right?"

He chuckles softly, nodding. "Right."

"Okay then. I just want to forget about her- about anyone tonight. I want to have fun and celebrate being with you and my brother."

His lips are soft on my shoulder. "Okay."


He lets me go slowly and I walk over to the nightstand, grabbing my phone. I'm stuffing it into my purse when I hear him chuckle.

"You know, you're a lot wiser than me."

I smile fondly, pursing my lips. "Damn straight." 

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