Chapter 29

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Dominic walked me up the stairs still holding me around his waist, not once severing our concentrated eye contact.

The moment had finally arrived and I wanted to make it last for as long as time would allow. I dreamed of time standing still in this perfect moment; that maybe if I begged the Universe hard enough it would grant me this one wish.

As we reached the top of the stairs, Dominic slowly let me drop to my feet, my body sliding down his and feeling every surface of his sculpted body.

Dominic's stare lifted from mine to look behind me, causing me to turn over my shoulder to see what had caught his attention.

"Oh..."

Too many candles to count lit up the room in a soft golden sheen. The dim flames flickered across every inch of the room as the shadows it created came to life, dancing across the walls with a whimsical purpose.

Rose petals as red as the blood rushing to my cheeks littered across a mattress placed in the middle of the otherwise empty bedroom. There was neither frame for the bed, nor sheets for it either. Just a bundle of pillows and a large, fluffy looking blanket settled upon the mattress.

He did all of this for me?

I couldn't tear my eyes away from it all. I wasn't used to this. My stomach twisted violently as confusion stormed my brain like an unyielding army hell-bent on destroying this would be happy moment.

"You know you didn't have to do this." I forced a weak chuckle past my lips. "I was gonna sleep with you anyways."

I turned on my heel, readying an expression that would perfectly mask my incertitude and determined to not let anything ruin this highly anticipated moment.

Dominic apparently had other plans.

Upon facing him, for once my eyes were not drawn to his, but rather to the small, hand-wrapped box settled in his palm that he held out for me.

All thoughts left my mind as I stood staring at this square, short box. There was a tinge of pain bursting through my chest and it was then that I realized I had stopped breathing the moment I set my eyes on the neatly wrapped box.

Forcing my lungs to contract, oxygen swept back into my lungs long enough for me to mumble out, "Wha-?" I couldn't even manage to finish a single syllable word.

"I know your birthday was almost a month ago but I didn't know it was your birthday until it was too late to get you anything. Then, everything happened so quickly with the case and I could never find the right time to give this to you." Dominic gently placed the box in my hands, his thumb brushing against my skin thoughtfully before retracting.

"Happy birthday, Kat." His voice was so low and so intimate it was nearly a whisper.

I didn't want to open it. I didn't want to see what was inside. But I had no choice.

My fingers trembled against the wrapping paper as I removed each piece of tape and opened each folded down corner as slowly as possible. My heart was on a wild race through my chest, beating so erratically and so loudly that I was certain Dominic could hear it too.

The wrapping paper fell to the ground as I released the last piece of tape from the gift. Staring up at me now was just the box itself, the lid sitting patiently as it waited for me to remove it so it could reveal to me the present that awaited me inside.

Dominic was watching me. I could feel his intense stare on my face I lifted my sticky, sweating fingers to the box and removed the lid.

A sharp breath sucked into my lungs as I finally saw it.

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