A Real Good Bad Thing Bonus Scene
By Lauren Blakely
A blue tang fish swept past me, its fins brushing my leg. A parrotfish darted by next.
The water off the coast of Miami was calm today, and the view under the sea was as spectacular as ever. Today’s dive was mine. No customers, no video, just my brother and me, exploring one of our favorite spots.
I swam past a coral reef and began to make my way skyward.
It was my first “fun” dive in weeks, but I couldn’t complain about the work ones. Business had been good over the last year and had steadily picked up—both here in Miami and around the Caribbean. I’d been fortunate enough to book a few tours in Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas, and those had kept me busy. They’d also kept me away from Jake, but we knew the score. I knew what I’d signed up for, and I loved every one of our moments together. With our jobs, we were apart more often than not, but we made the most of the days when the stars aligned to bring us back together in Florida.
He’d been gone for the last week, tracking a missing Rembrandt in Switzerland, and I hoped to see him in a few days.
I reached the surface with Cole next to me. We swam to Lance’s boat twenty feet away as the afternoon sun cast golden rays across the water. When we reached the hull, I grasped the hand that Lance offered me.
But when I lifted my face, Jake was the one tugging me onto the boat.
“You’re back! I didn’t think you’d be here for a few more days.”
“I didn’t think I’d return this soon either,” he said as I climbed over the edge and joined him on the deck. I threw my arms around him and kissed him shamelessly in front of my brother and my friend. I’d missed him so much, and it was so good to see him again.
When we broke the kiss, I asked, “Did you find the Rembrandt?”
“Under a floorboard in an old villa in Tuscany,” he said with a wry grin.
I loved his tales of adventure. I ate them up. “Did you use your hammer?” I asked as I shed my dive gear.
“I sure did.” He sounded proud, deservedly so.
The shout came from Cole, who was dripping wet on the deck of the boat now too.
“Are you going to kiss the girl all day?”
Jake nodded to my brother. “Damn straight.” Then he grinned. “I guess I’d better take her to my boat,” he said, and I spotted a smaller boat tied up to Lance’s so we could step across.
“You bought a boat?” I asked. That didn’t seem his style. Jake was attached to his family and to Florida. Possessions, not so much.
“I rented it for the afternoon because I couldn’t wait to see you. Your brother told me where you’d be. I wanted to surprise you.”
“That’s so sweet,” I said and wrapped my arms around him again, not caring that I was getting him wet.
“All right, you two need to get off my boat before you start making out again,” Lance said in a surly growl.
“We’re leaving, we’re leaving,” I said. I grabbed my bag with my sundress and sunscreen and the rest of my necessities and then climbed onto the starboard side and stepped onto Jake’s boat. He joined me, and Lance helped us cast off.
Lance cranked the motor on his larger boat and took off with my brother, waving goodbye. Then I was alone on the ocean with the man I loved, bobbing under the sun on the gentle waves.
“So, is this my surprise? You? Because I like this kind of surprise,” I said, lacing my arms around his neck and planting an it’s-so-good-to-see-you-again kiss on his lips.
“Mmm,” he murmured as he showed me how much he’d missed me too.
But then he broke the kiss and dug into his pocket. “This is only the prelude surprise. I have another.” His tone caught my attention. It was serious, almost reverent.
It took me a second to process the change in his demeanor, then another second to gasp when he dropped to one knee.
“Ruby Ashley, you’re the best part of my days and nights. I’ve loved every second of our time together, and I know I’ll love every second to come,” he said, gazing up at me with adoration in his green eyes as the setting sun cast warm, golden rays around him.
My heart swelled in my chest.
“And I want to keep on loving you for the rest of my life. You’re the best partner I could ever ask for. In everything, but especially in life and in love. Let’s keep having adventures together for all time.”
He took a beat, then flipped open the velvet box in his hand.
“Oh my god,” I gasped.
The diamond ring sparkled brilliantly under the Miami sun. “Will you be my wife?” he asked.
Without hesitation, I dropped to my knees too, and flung my arms around him. “Yes, I would love to be your wife.” Then I kissed him, sealing our promise. When I broke the kiss, I whispered, “I can’t wait for you to be my husband.”
Husband. I loved the sound of it.
“Then let me put this on you, sweetheart,” he said.
“Right. Yes,” I said, flustered but amazed. I’d have said yes without a ring. Still, I stared at the diamond, so big and bright.
“I bought it before we left,” he said as he slid it on.
I tilted my head, checking my mental calendar, which didn’t line up. Except for… “The trip when we met?”
He nodded proudly. “I bought it from Montez that day he evaluated the diamond.”
“I knew then you were the love of my life,” he said. “I knew then I’d ask you to marry me someday.”
And with that, I fell in love with him a little more.
Jake smiled broadly, then ran a finger along the ring. “Read the inscription inside.”
I took it off and read it, then covered my mouth with my shaking hand. A tear slid down my cheek. A tear of happiness. “You’re my treasure,” I quoted as my voice hitched. “I love it.” I met his gaze again. “And I love you.”
He slid the ring back onto my finger where it belonged.
“Now, what do you say we sail off into the sunset and spend the evening on the boat on the ocean?”
“Will you do bad things to me?”
“Don’t I always?”
“You do, but even when it’s bad, it’s good.”
“And it always will be,” he said.
I knew that it would. Real, and good, and true.
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