If you didn't read the Rose and Thorn epilogue, please do. Thanks!
He shrugged. "I suppose there's a little bit of that guy left… but maybe I just want to get in your pants."
Her jaw dropped open, red sweeping over her face and her breath catching. "Dan Fields, don't-" she closed her mouth, the red deepening. "OK… I know that isn't true."
"I don't know if it's true or not, Rose… that's why you should just go back home now, and pretend-"
He looked away when water crested in her eyes. God, how could he have said to her what he'd just said? How could he be such an effing idiot?
"That's bull, Dan. You know that's not what you want… and … you're a caring man at heart, and you've never really… OK, so you've changed some… but the good guy isn't dead. He's the one who's looking out for Allie, and he's the one who's been raising those…" she sniffled, and he closed his eyes.
God, I am an imbecile.
"Those plants… Dan, I saw all the flowers… I saw your garden. It's in you to nurture, and you know it."
Nurture? That made him sound like a pretty, little nurse in a white skirt.
"You just chose the plants because they can't…"
He looked up just in time to see a tear slip from each of her eyes.
"Rose, I'm sorry." He cupped a hand behind her head. "I shouldn't have said that… I really didn't mean... I just mean that I'm a mess right now, and I-"
"I know, that's why… I know what you meant."
"God, Woman, come here." He pulled her into his arms, and she lay her head on his shoulder, sniffing and sobbing while horns sounded and tires squealed around them. He was sure any minute a cop would arrive and that he needed to move the Jeep out of the road.
"The plants can't commit suicide," she choked out, and he weaved his fingers through her wet hair. "Right, Dan?"
He swallowed the lump in his throat, his reply hardly above a whisper. "What, Rose?"
"Think about it…" She straightened, breaking his embrace and pleading with her sparkling eyes, her fair face streaked with water and black mascara. "I can't let you just leave again… I want to help you."
"I'm not a project."
"Neither was I. But you helped me... and you cared, and you still do."
He nodded vaguely, suddenly aware that he'd never seen her quite like this. Yes, she'd pleaded for his affection, but this was different… her voice somehow wobbly and determined at the same time, her brows knit in fear but her jaw set.
"And I still care for you…"
Sappiness. She used to abhor sappiness; but look at her now, bearing her heart and soul and begging for a chance to help you.
"You don't owe me, Rose."
"Maybe not… But let me help."