A.N: As I promised the people who sent me a pm, here's the next part.
The anguish that twisted Jeff's face was momentary but it still caused her to reign in an unsteady breath and twist her fingers into the fabric of his shirt. He quickly covered it up with a look of grim acceptance. His multicolored head dipped in a curt nod and he exhaled sharply, "That's all right."
"Jeff, you don't understand…" Trish began but he cut her off hastily.
"I understand." His words came out in a jumbled rush. "After everything I did to you, I don't have the right to want a second chance."
"I admit it. I did let myself hope that when you said you loved me earlier that you meant it but deep down, I knew that the only reason you said it was because you thought I needed to hear it or because you were afraid to let me go off on my own because I'd do something crazy."
"You've always been too good to me and for me. I've never given you anything but heartache and questions." Regret burned in his intense emerald gaze. "I'll suffer for the rest of my life because of that."
"Don't." Her whisper was broken, pain touching the plea. "Please don't."
"No, darlin, it's ok." He offered her a smile but it was false and disappeared instantly. "I told you that you have a right to hate me, to never want to see me again and I meant it. I'll find a way to make sure that us working together again won't cause you any more pain or trouble. If it's the last thing I ever do…"
She put a finger to his lips, silencing the words she didn't want to hear. "I already told you that I don't hate you. I never could. Do you know why?"
He didn't try to answer around her protesting finger, opting instead to shake his head. His entrancing eyes were curious but guarded, not allowing himself to hope for anything.
"You don't realize how special you are." She informed him flatly. "From the first moment we met, I was captivated. You weren't like anyone I'd ever met and I wanted to get to know you better, to try and solve the mystery that was you."
His head tilted reflexively and she removed her finger from his lips, knowing that he wouldn't interrupt her.
"I thought about you all the time when we had days off, wondering what you were doing and if you…" Her voice trailed off, sudden fear replacing her resolve, and she looked down, not wanting him to read the vulnerability in her eyes.
"If I what?" He prompted breathlessly, forcing her to return her gaze to his gorgeous face.
"If you thought about me at all." She murmured and took a deep breath. "And if you did think of me, was it the same thing that everyone in the back thought of me."
"What was that?"
"That I was just another blonde bimbo with big breasts who wouldn't be anything more than eye candy and a cover girl for the magazine."
"Darlin," His voice was melodic and soft, almost lyrical. "I never saw you that way. To me, you were this gorgeous, intelligent, funny, brave woman who was trying her hardest to show people that you couldn't judge a book by it's cover. Who wasn't afraid to get in the ring and work her ass off to become better, even when she ended up bruised and broken."
She smiled, blinking back the rush of moisture his words had brought to her eyes. "Thank you but please let me get back to my point."
"I've always been very practical and rational. Guarded even. Everything I did, I always thought and planned out every aspect of it." She shrugged slightly. "When it came to falling in love, I planned to fall in love with a normal, conventional guy who worked a regular nine to five job. Wanted the whole idealized version of marriage and family because it was expected of me."
He said nothing but his eyes narrowed suspiciously.
"You took me by surprise. I didn't realize that I had fallen in love with you when we first met. I was still unaware of it when you kissed me at your party." Her mouth had gone dry and she swallowed thickly. "That scared me."
"To me, love wasn't supposed to be consuming, confusing or impulsive. It was supposed to be simple, rational and logical. But when you kissed me that night, I felt something that I never felt before. Something that I believed only existed in the context of cheesy books and movies. Nothing about the emotions that kiss released fit into my world. It completely threw me." She licked her lips, smiling slightly. "And every time I tried to sit down and figure out how and if we could work, I only ended up more confused and consumed than when I started."
Her fingers twined a lock of his long, thick, silken hair around them. "I knew that if I allowed myself to accept the fact that I was in love in with you the world I built for myself; that safe, stable, planned existence would no longer exist. That by being with you, I was taking a leap into the unknown."
His face was troubled, "I'm sorry."
"Don't be." She told him sternly. "Because the night I stopped fighting the inevitable and gave into my emotions was the first time in my life that I ever truly felt alive. And I've never regretted it. Not even when things were bad. Not even when things ended so suddenly that I felt like I lost half myself."
"I'm sorry darlin," He shook his head, his expression self-loathing. "If I could go back in time and change things, I'd gladly pay any price."
"I don't want you to." She fiercely informed him. "The whole point of this conversation isn't to make you feel bad or hurt you. I need to explain why I can't love you again."
"Go on." He took a deep breath, steeling himself. "I can handle it."
"I can't love you again because that would mean that I stopped loving you to begin with. I never did because I never wanted to. Even when it felt like loving you would crush me. Or when it hurt so much I could barely breathe and wanted to curl up into a ball or die so I wouldn't have to feel it anymore." She heaved a sigh. "I just buried it. Ignored it. Pretended like it never existed. Went back to my old fail-safe of a planned, controlled existence. Rebuilt my walls and forced myself to keep going."
"Trish, baby, what does this all mean?" Jeff's voice was an odd mixture of fear and barely veiled hope. "Is this your chance at closure or is it the beginning of something else?"
"I don't want closure." She took a deep, heart-steadying breath. "I want there to be an us. I've never wanted anything more. But there's a part of me that's terrified."
He nodded slowly, his own breath tremulously falling over his parted his parted lips. "I understand that fear because I stand before you, paralyzed by it."
"I'm not perfect. Far from it. Yet I keep pursuing perfection because I know that even though you're too good for me and I don't deserve you, I can't let you go." He smiled self-depreciatingly. "But for some unfathomable reason, you've chosen to give me a second chance and I'm scared to death that no matter what my intentions are, I'll find some way to screw up and blow it."
"You won't." saying those words aloud, she was suddenly sure of them. "We know what it's like to live without each other and speaking for myself, it was miserable."
"Miserable doesn't come close to summing up my life without you in it." He brushed a lock of stray hair from her face, his fingertips gently stroking over her cheek. "Bleak, pointless, abysmal are more fitting."
Trish wanted to let herself get swept away but she couldn't. That pragmatic side of her was urging her to bring the concerns she had to the forefront. With a shaky breath, she gave into the nagging. "In theory, this is perfect. But there are things we need to face."
"We still have the issue of living in two separate countries. How is this going to work when we're off? Or does our relationship only pertain to on the road?"
"We're together, on and off the road." Jeff assured her, cupping her cheek. "And as for our living situations, I have a possible solution to it."
"Ok, what is it?"
He smiled, that breath-taking, beautiful, enchanting smile that made her knees quiver. "I think we've spent enough time apart. Too much damn time. We have a lot to make up for and I would like it if you'd move in with me."
"Darlin, like I said, my life without you wasn't worth living and since the issue of us living in two different places has always been a thorn in your side then it's the best possible solution." He leaned his forehead against hers. "To wake up to you everyday, knowing that this was our house and not being afraid of you having to leave, would make me the happiest man on the face of this and any planet."
"But it's so fast…"
"It's not fast." He countered, grinning wildly at her apparent shock. "Given how long we've known each other and the fact that we're been together for three years,"
"No, we haven't."
"Darlin, we never officially broke up. So technically, we were still together but just separated by circumstances beyond our control." He raised an eyebrow in challenge of his logic. "And we've known each other for six years. So it makes perfect sense that after all that time together, we'd take this step."
Her head was spinning. It was all so overwhelming. But she wanted it even though her practical side was screaming at her to slow down. "Ok, I'll move in here."
His arms bound around her and his lips touched her forehead. "You won't be sorry. I promise you, I will never do anything to hurt you ever again."
Then his lips were on hers, cutting off anything else she was going to say. All her worries and apprehension melted away with every languid, skilled movement of his mouth.
This was real.
They belonged together.
It wouldn't be easy.
There'd be problems and arguments.
Moments of insanity and bliss.
They'd laugh, cry and yell.
In the end, the only thing that mattered was that they loved each other and that they kept fighting to make it work.
That's it. Thank you for all the reviews, encouragement and interest. I hope you all enjoyed this.