Antonio sucked in a breath as her words unexpectedly cut through his heart. He had known he would be taking a
chance on proposing to her so soon, but the whole time he was on the plane all he could think about was how he
much he wanted to be with Gwen. He had been miserable without her these last few weeks. He knew they didn't know
each other well, but he knew what he needed to. He loved her. She was a part of him and for the first time in
his life he wanted more than just a few nights of physical satisfaction - he wanted it all. He wanted the house
with a two-car garage and a white picket fence. He wanted a wife and kids. Hell, he even wanted a dog. But none
of it mattered if Gwen didn't want to share it with him and apparently, he thought with a rueful smile, she didn't.
Antonio shook his head then stood and walked to the window on the other side of the room. He saw the cars speeding
down the street and commiserated with the pavement beneath them. He now knew what it felt like to have someone
drive through and leave nothing but tire tracks in their wake. His heart had the marks to prove it. How could
he have been so stupid? He had taken Luis' advice and put his heart on the line, for what? So it could be handed
back to him battered and broken?
"Tony?" Gwen called from behind him. Her voice was soft, low, and filled with sadness. Or was that
pity? "Tony, please turn around and look at me."
He closed his eyes and tried to gather the strength to do as she asked. Then once he had hidden all traces of
the pain she caused, he turned around. Tears ran silently down her cheeks and his heart broke all over again.
"Don't cry for me, sweetheart. I can take it. I mean you can't help the fact that you don't love me."
"Don't lo -" She broke off and shook her head. "You think I don't love you?"
"Isn't that why you said no?" Tony asked trying to keep the hope out of his heart. It didn't work.
"I said no because you don't love me."
"What!" He roared causing Gwen to jump in surprise. "I just proposed for crying out loud! Why
would I do that if I didn't love you?"
"Because of the baby." She whispered sadly. "You proposed because of the baby."
He laughed and Gwen's eyes widened. He supposed he couldn't blame her for thinking he didn't love her. After
all, he had left that important part out of his proposal. He just assumed she knew he loved her. Didn't she know
that was why he was here? "Sweetheart, I didn't propose because of the baby."
"You didn't?" She asked with a hint of uncertainty.
"No, I didn't." He said walking toward her and sitting on the bed. He removed the tray from her lap
and set it back on the table beside them, then he took her hands in his and looked into her golden brown eyes.
"I proposed because I love you, Gwen. I flew on a plane with this ring in my pocket. I didn't know about
the baby until I got here. So how could I have proposed because of the baby?"
"B... but we barely know each other. How can we get married?"
"Do you love me?" He asked searching her eyes.
She smiled and his heart lurched in his chest. "Of course, I love you. I think I fell in love with you the
moment I laid eyes on you."
"Then what more do we need to know about each other?" He asked framing her face with his hands. "Do
you need to know that you're a part of me? That you're a part of my heart, a part of my soul. Do you need to
know that these last few weeks without you have been some of the worst days of my life? Do you need to know that
every time I close my eyes to sleep, I dream of you? Or do you need to know that every morning when I wake up,
I wish I was waking up, holding you in my arms? What more do you need to know, sweetheart? Because I swear I'll
tell you anything and everything."
More tears rolled down her cheeks and he used his lips to kiss them away. "Say you'll marry me, Gwen. We
can spend the next fifty years getting to know each other. Just say you want to marry me."
"I do." She whispered against his cheek. "I do want to marry you."
He pulled back and grinned at her. "Is that a yes, Ms. Hotchkiss?"
She laughed and wrapped her arms around his neck. "Yes, Mr. Lopez-Fitzgerald, that is a definite yes."
"Thank god." Antonio whispered just before his lips descended upon hers for a kiss that spoke of love,
passion, and promises for the future, a future they would share together. He had definitely learned his lesson
about playing with fire, he thought his heart burning with love and happiness. But he knew without a doubt that
he would do it all over again, because playing with fire was what led him to Gwen and there was no place on earth
he would rather be.