Jonathan blinked, pulled from his self-recriminations and exhausted stupor by a soft, dismayed sound from Mac. He met her worried gaze, and found himself unable to tear his own away for a long moment. When he could, he searched her face, and his heart stalled in his chest.
Mac was beautiful. He'd thought that from the moment he first met her, back in April. But the expression on her face -- the tender concern she couldn't possibly know was written on her face, and in her sapphire eyes -- right now reminded him of just how gorgeous she was. She was so precious to him he didn't even know if the words existed to express her importance.
He wanted to tell her. He was tired of holding his feelings in, and ashamed he kept so many secrets from her. He hated keeping secrets -- Mac deserved so much more from him. His shame grabbed him by the throat, closing off his windpipe and not allowing any sound to escape.
The warmth of her fingers brushing his forehead tore a sigh from him, and he could finally close his eyes, drawing strength and healing from her touch she didn't even realize she gave. He wanted to tell her the truth -- about who she was, and how he felt. The first, he was forbidden to do, and the other, he was afraid of how she would respond to. She didn't like to risk, and she could decide to remove herself from his life completely. She was his One, and he couldn't even breathe when he thought about going through the rest of his life without her. So he would hide how he really felt, and be her friend, if that was all she was willing to give him.
"You are not a failure," she asserted, cupping his face in her hands until he opened his eyes to meet her sapphire gaze, again. "I have faith in you, Jonathan."
He couldn't help it -- he could only stare, wonder sluicing through him as his chest constricted and blood rushed hotly through his veins. He couldn't have looked away if a nuclear bomb went off next to them. The absolute conviction and faith in her gaze, and her assertion she believed in him, despite her staunch refusal to accept anything involving the paranormal, awed him, and turned him on at the same time.
God, he loved her so much!
Dragging in a breath, the peppermint scent of her wrapped around him and swirled through his lungs, sending his blood rushing south, fast. He couldn't fight the need pooling in his soul any longer. Only Mac could stop this, and he wasn't sure if he was praying she would, or that she wouldn't.
Covering one of her hands as she shifted to remove them from his face, he turned his head to press his lips to her palm, never breaking eye contact as he inhaled the sweet, minty scent lingering on her skin. No mint he ever smelled in his life could ever do her justice.
"Jonathan..." Her protest, and her attempt to withdraw her hand from his grasp, were half-hearted at best. Her gaze, however, was alive with emotions that only encouraged him.
"I'm tired of fighting this, Mac," he admitted, his throat raw with his need. He was a drowning man, and she was his salvation. He was so tired of fighting these feelings, and of losing people he loved because he couldn't tell them the whole truth. "Unless you tell me no, right now, I'm going to kiss you."