Home > Almost Beautiful (Beautiful #3)

Almost Beautiful (Beautiful #3)
Author: Jamie McGuire

To Jessica Landers

My right hand, my right brain, my therapist, my biggest cheerleader, my ride or die, my best friend. In a very literal sense, there would be no me without you.



Chapter One





Travis towered over the bed and our luggage, quietly separating our dirty laundry.

We couldn’t even call our quick trip to Las Vegas a whirlwind—it was a hurricane; one that had no end in sight. We’d run to elope, hunkered down for a family meeting with Shepley and America, and Trenton and Camille to go over the new story of our whereabouts, and now it was just the two of us in our apartment, waiting in the eye of the storm. Sure, it was quiet, but knowing what was coming was almost worse.

Travis had been silent for the most part since we’d gotten home from his dad’s to break the news of our elopement.

Jim took it well. Better than well, he was ecstatic, but he could tell there was something else looming over us. Now that the whole nation knew about the fire, I could tell Jim didn’t want to ask.

“Trav, you’ve been quiet. What are you thinking about?”

He held my wedding dress in front of him, and after several seconds he laid it carefully onto our comforter. “Nothing.”

“Nothing?” I repeated, dubious.

“Mostly about the few hours between the wedding and leaving for the airport. It wasn’t long enough.”

I crawled across the bed, over the laundry, and clasped my fingers behind his neck. “Agreed. It felt like a different dimension. But on the bright side, we can have as many nights alone as we want.”

Travis smiled, but it was strained. He looked over to my dress again. The satin and tulle were a bit wrinkled and ruffled, in part from travel but mostly from our wedding night.

Travis was right, it hadn’t been enough time—those magical, perfect hours between our I dos and the plane ride home—but we’d made the most of them.

Even though Travis had kissed me, touched me, held me many times before, his excitement for the wedding and that he could call me his wife, those once-familiar things had all felt new. As we consummated our marriage over and over again, Travis convinced me he wanted nothing and no one else, that being my husband was the most important thing to him in the world.

I kissed his cheek and then returned to my spot on the bed, watching him resume sorting laundry. In truth, there wasn’t much, but he made sure to turn each article of clothing right side out and laid it flat, something he’d never taken the time to do before, as evidenced by the four older piles on the floor.

Travis seemed determined to get lost in mundane chores, anything to keep his mind off the questions and worries swirling inside of him.

I held up my left hand, staring at my diamond ring the way Travis had revered my wedding dress just moments before. I wiggled my fingers, enjoying the way the diamond caught the light, and then noticed Travis staring at me as he came into focus just beyond my hand. One side of his mouth turned up into a half-smile and he laughed once.

“Still okay?” he asked for the third time since we’d arrived home.

“Still Mrs. Maddox,” I said. “So… yes. But I wish we had more time before classes start up again.”

“We can skip a few days,” he said with a smirk.

At first, I thought he was joking, but when his gaze met mine, he dropped the clothes in his hand and walked around to the other side of the bed to sit next to me. He scanned my face with his warm, brown eyes, a day’s worth of scruff on his jaw. He was still as breathtaking as the day I’d met him, his inked skin pulled tightly over his lean, cut muscles.

The tattoos covering his arms varied from artistic to tribal, but none were as precious to him as my nickname scrolled in delicate cursive across his wrist, or the phrase in Hebrew along his rib cage, spanning from under his arm to the crest of his hip. It read, I belong to my beloved, and my beloved is mine—and I was. Officially.

I’d even gotten a new tattoo in Vegas: Mrs. Maddox. For someone who’d never considered getting a tattoo before, I couldn’t stop staring at it ... or my new husband.

Husband. The word would forever give me butterflies, I was sure of it.

He nuzzled my neck, pressing tiny kisses on certain very lucky patches of skin. “I have never been so tempted in my life, but I have statistics this semester. Not a class I want to miss.”

“You'll do fine,” he said. “You solve problems the way I throw punches.”

“Nothing is that beautiful.”

He leaned back to catch my expression, a dozen emotions scanning across his face. His eyebrows pulled in, finally settling on adoration. “My wife is.”

“I don’t think hearing you call me that will ever get old.”

“Good. Then I don’t have to feel so stupid about how happy it makes me.”

He turned my head and planted his lips on mine, forcing his other hand between my back side and the bed, making every inch of my skin beg to be touching some part of him.

“Do we have time for this?” he asked.

“We’re newlyweds, we’ll make time,” I said, scooting further down on the mattress.

Travis reached back to grab his shirt and then pulled it up and over, tossing it to the pile of clothes on the other side of the bed. He slipped my black leggings off with ease, and then kissed me for a few moments more before reaching down and sliding his fingers beneath the cotton fabric of my panties.

I breathed out, a small whimper slipping with it. That tiny sound made Travis’s movements less patient, and he yanked down his shorts and, without pause, thrust himself inside me.

Once he was fully seated, he forced himself to pause, his faltering breath hot against my ear.

“I should … slow down … I’m gonna …”

“Don’t,” I said, locking my ankles behind him. “Not this time.”

He paused for just a few more seconds—long enough to kiss me—but once he moved again, slow wasn’t something he could manage. He rocked into me over and over, his arms shaking, so lost in the feeling that he ignored the performance of it all and allowed every nerve to be overwhelmed with the way his skin felt surrounded and caressed by mine.

“Pidge …”

“Don’t stop,” I whispered.

He felt as different as he did familiar, letting go of his control as he finished.

“God, you feel good … God da—” He groaned through his climax, trembling, holding himself inside me as he came.

We were both breathing hard, but then he inhaled, deep and slow, and then sighed. “Damn, I’m sorry.”

“Sorry for what?” I asked, smiling as I kissed his cheek.

“I got a little carried away.”

“And that’s a bad thing?” I asked, keeping my leg hooked over him as he lay next to me.

He stared at the ceiling. “That wasn’t making love to you, that was blowing off steam.”

“I’m not mad about it.”

He looked over at me. “Why do you love me so much? I think I’m a fuck up and you just … understand me. You already know before I ever explain.”

“I don’t know,” I said, running my fingers over his whiskers.

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