Reaching across the table, Zach took one of Gabriella’s hands in his and just marveled at how soft it was. He always wondered what her skin felt like and now that he knew, he wanted to feel more. “Don’t leave me. Please.”
Her blue eyes filled with tears and she used her free hand to quickly wipe them away before they fell and then studied their hands on the table. “Zach,” she said softly, “we’ve been over this.”
“I know, I know,” he replied just as softly. “I need another chance, Gabriella. I need a chance to make things right.” He looked up, his gaze meeting hers. “I need you.”
Deciding to be bold, he turned her hand over and twined their fingers together and gently squeezed. He was surprised she didn’t pull away and thought maybe—just maybe—they were making progress. “I know I can’t erase the things I’ve said and done, but if you’ll give me one more chance, Gabs, I promise not to screw up. If I do anything to upset you, you can walk away. Hell, you can slap me in the face, kick me in the shin or throw something heavy at me and I’ll take it. I just…I can’t do this without you.”
Her eyes never left their joined hands.
“I don’t want to do this without you,” he said quietly.
“I’m afraid to…believe you.” He barely heard her words, they were uttered so softly.
Everything inside of him clenched with pain. His always confident, ever-efficient assistant was now distrusting and uncertain—because of him. “I don’t know what to say to make you believe me. Tell me. Tell me what I need to do. Anything. Anything you need from me to gain your confidence, and I’ll do it.”
She looked up at him. “It’s not that easy. Every day I walked into the office, I gave you another chance. Every time you berated me or made me feel like I screwed up and I came back, I gave you another chance. From my standpoint, you’ve had two years’ worth of second chances. I think I’ve been more than generous.”
His other hand reached out to cup her hand in both of his. “I know you have and you have no idea how much I appreciated it.” She looked at him with disbelief. “It’s true! I know I never said it but every morning you were there, I was thankful. Every time you walked into my office, I was thankful. Please. I’m begging here, Gabs.”