He was both humbled and embarrassed by her words and sincerity. “For most of them, I make the pain start.”
She flapped her hands at him. “You know what I mean.”
“Yes, I do. You’re right, it is a powerful feeling to know that I’m able to take someone beyond their troubles. And I’ve seen how therapeutic a good session can be. There seems to be some kind of release, some kind of healing or mental reset that happens with some people after they’ve experienced subspace.”
“I want to know what subspace feels like,” Sunny admitted in a low, slightly husky voice. “Take me to Club Wicked tonight.”
Her eyes had darkened slightly, and the blush that had been on her cheeks traveled down her neck, disappearing behind the edge of his shirt. “Are you sure?”
She gave him a puzzled look as he left the room, but he ignored it, anticipation humming through him.
When he got to his bedroom, he opened the safe in the closet and pulled out a large, square black box embellished with gold scrollwork.
Much like their engagement ring, his plans to give her the piece of jewelry had originally been elaborate. He’d imagined doing it a dozen different ways, each more spectacular than the last. None of them had him kneeling before her while she sat adorably disheveled on his media room couch.
He held the box open, watching her closely as she gasped. “It’s your collar.”
“Oh. My. God!” she hissed. Her gaze darted between his face and the contents of the box. “Is that sapphire real? It’s the size of my freaking thumb.”
He bit back a smile and nodded. “I had this collar made for you after we went to see that exhibit of Viking jewelry at the Smithsonian. You went on and on about how beautiful the torque style necklaces were, and I knew right then how I wanted your collar to look.”
She hesitantly lifted the torque from its white velvet bed, her fingers trembling slightly. The thick gold band was etched with Celtic inspired patterns, and where the circle split into two pieces there were stylized hawks. Instead of a gap like some torques had, the space between the hawk’s outstretched wings cradled a marquise cut sapphire as blue as the deepest ocean.
“Oh. My. God,” she repeated as she turned the torque in her hands. “It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.”
“So, you like it?”
She gave him a look that clearly said he was an idiot. “I love it! But how do I put it on?”
“There’s a catch behind the left hawk’s wing. Here, let me put it on you.”
After a bit of fiddling, he slowly fastened his collar on her, and something settled into place deep in his heart. “Perfect.”
He leaned in to kiss her, but she was off the couch with a squeal, racing over to a nearby mirror. Lifting her chin slightly, she turned this way and that, the sapphire flashing whispers of lighter blue like crazy in the beams of sunlight coming through the window. With her hair in disheveled little curls, and her face still puffy from crying, she nonetheless took his breath away. Her smile—God, her smile—slayed him on every level.
Moving up behind her, he grinned as her eyes met his in the mirror. “I’m glad you like it.”
In her bare feet, she was short enough that he could rest his chin on top of her head.
“I never imagined my collar would look like this. I thought you’d go for the more traditional black leather. I can’t wait to show it off!”
He hated to burst her happy bubble, but he needed to ask her a question before they went to Wicked. “How do you want to tell our friends?”
“That we’re engaged? I think this honking big diamond ring will do that on its own and I think the collar is pretty eye-catching.”
Her tone was flippant, but he could easily read the sudden sorrow in her reflection in the mirror.
“I meant about your upcoming surgery.”
She dropped her gaze from his, instead focusing on the torque as she ran her fingertips over one of the hawks. “Do we have to tell them right away? Can’t we have a few days to just…live before we tell them? To be happy? When everyone finds out, they’ll treat me differently. I just want to have a chance to be normal with you, even if it’s only for a little bit.”
The selfish part of him wanted to tell their friends so that he didn’t have to handle it alone. He could really use some support right now, but Sunny deserved her taste of happiness. He knew their friends would be pissed because they’d hid such important news from them, but he’d deal with it later. If she wanted to wait, he’d honor her wishes.
“No, beloved, we don’t have to tell them right away. But we will have to eventually let them know what’s going on. It would hurt them deeply if we didn’t.”