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Echoes of You: Epilogue



“Why do I feel like I’m going to hurl?” I asked as Nash’s SUV turned onto the drive that used to be bumpy gravel but was now smooth pavement.

He chuckled. “Please, don’t. Clyde and I really don’t need that.”

The dog stuck his head between the seats at the sound of his name and dropped one of Nash’s T-shirts in my lap.

“Where did you get this?” I asked, a smile curving my lips.

Nash sent Clyde a scathing look. “Why doesn’t he steal any of your stuff?”

“I think it’s because he loves you more. He wants to be close to you.”

Nash slowed his SUV so he could kiss me. “I don’t know. I think you’re pretty loveable.”

“Really?” I kissed him back, deep and slow.

Nash pulled back, eyes sparking a deeper green. “But I’m not sure what all of this says about your dog training skills.”

My jaw dropped, and I smacked his arm. “Jerk.”

He shrugged. “He’s not very good advertising.”

The truth was, I didn’t need advertising. Word of mouth was spreading from one client to another, and I was working with more and more dogs. I still had my job at The Brew, but between private clients and working with the SAR K9s, I wasn’t sure how much longer that would last.

Nash took his foot off the brake. “Ready?”

My stomach flipped. “So much went into this. What if it’s not what we pictured?”

Nash and I had moved into his house while the construction took place. We’d been involved in every step of the renovation, but the moment the crew had gotten to the final stages, we’d stopped dropping by. We wanted that moment of a big reveal. If we were in there every single day, we wouldn’t get the true feeling of change.

Nash took my hand. “If we don’t like something, we’ll have them fix it.”

That was easier said than done. Holt’s friend, Chris, had done us a huge favor by squeezing us into his already crazy-busy schedule. And he was breaking ground on Holt and Wren’s house on Monday. Now that they knew they were expecting a little earlier than planned, they needed that house done stat.

Nash squeezed my hand. “Have a little faith.”

I took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “I can do that.”

Because faith had come through for us time and time again. Nash’s recovery hadn’t been an easy one, but he finally had his strength back and had returned to work. It was a good thing because, man, was he cranky without it.

Lawson had been cleared not long after the shooting, but I knew he still carried that weight. He was such a good man; there was no way he wouldn’t.

Adam was sitting in prison after breaking bail and attempting to flee the country. It wasn’t surprising. The man thought he could get away with anything. But that wasn’t happening this time. Women had come out of the woodwork once the story hit the news, all willing to testify about abuse and stalking at his hands. Not to mention his confession of murder. He would be in prison for the rest of his life, and I was relieved every single day.

My mother had, of course, blamed me for my father’s death and for bringing a madman into their lives. But her words hadn’t hit like they usually would. Everything I’d been through in the past several months had made me realize a strength I didn’t know I possessed. I could hear her words for what they were—bitter lies. My ability to tune her out drove her so crazy that she finally moved out of Cedar Ridge. I wasn’t sorry to see her go.

The cabin came into view, and my jaw dropped. If I hadn’t seen the structure that had once been here, I never would’ve guessed the new house even contained the smaller building. It had been transformed into a two-story modern farmhouse with a wraparound porch. White siding was punctuated by black windows and shutters that were somehow both trendy and timeless.

“It’s beautiful,” I breathed. It was also massive.

Nash parked and turned off the engine. Before I knew it, he’d rounded the vehicle and opened my door. I stepped out, still gaping. It was the most gorgeous home I’d ever seen.

Nash took my hand and opened the door for Clyde, who jumped out and ran off to sniff around the newly landscaped front yard. We headed up the walk, and I took in the line of rocking chairs on the front porch. “I can picture us out here, watching the sun go down.”

A grin stretched across Nash’s face. “Me, too.”

Heading up the porch steps, I moved to open the screen door, but Nash tugged me to a stop. I looked up at him. “After waiting for as long as we have, you’re not dying to go in?”

His grin widened. “I love how impatient you are.”

I arched a brow. “Impatient? I waited for you for over two decades.”

Nash chuckled. “You may have a point there.” He leaned forward and brushed his lips across mine. “I want to go in, but not like this.”

My brows pulled together in confusion.

Nash released my hand and sank to one knee. “I’ve been yours since we were five years old. I want to walk in that door with you being what you were always meant to be. Do me the greatest honor of my life and marry me?”

Tears filled my eyes, and I couldn’t get a single word out. But I bobbed my head up and down in a nod.

Nash pulled a ring out of his pocket and slid it onto my finger. The color of the stone was a deep blue nearly identical to my eyes and surrounded by a sea of diamonds. It was utterly unique and perfect for me.

As Nash pushed to his feet, I threw myself at him. He caught me with an oomph.

“You keep giving me everything,” I whispered.

“Because it’s what you’ve always given me.”

I pulled back so I could see those gorgeous green eyes. “I love you.”

“More than I thought possible,” Nash said, a husky tinge to his voice.

A series of honks sounded from down the drive, and I looked at him in question.

“I told everyone to come over. Grae’s picking up pizza. They don’t know, but I thought it would be fun to surprise them.”

My heart clenched. Part of the everything Nash was giving me was the family I’d never had. And it was the sweetest gift imaginable.

A parade of vehicles made their way toward us, and I whistled for Clyde, who came running. Holt and Wren were out of their SUV first, her hand hovering over her still-flat belly. Roan was out of his truck second, a grimace on his face as Lawson’s boys tumbled out of his vehicle, yelling and fighting. Lawson followed, shaking his head.

Caden slid out of his SUV and crossed to Grae’s vehicle, opening the back hatch. She jumped out and glared at him. “I told you I had it. I don’t need your help.”

He arched a brow. “This stack of boxes is bigger than you are, Gigi. The last thing we need is you tripping because you can’t see. Stop being stubborn.”

Whatever truce they’d found during Nash’s hospitalization had apparently fled just as quickly as it had been forged. They were back to needling each other every chance they got.

Grae’s face reddened. “I tripped one time.”

Caden grunted. “You ruined my favorite Thanksgiving pie.”

“I was fifteen. Get over it,” she snapped.

Kerry shook her head as she and Nathan made their way up the walk. “Can’t have a real home without chaos. We brought the chaos.” She lifted a tin. “And homemade cookies.”

I moved to take them, and she stilled, then shoved the tin at her husband and grabbed my hand. “Is that—are you—?” Her gaze ping-ponged between Nash and me.

Nash grinned. “Had to lock her down before she realized she was too good for me.”

Tears filled Kerry’s eyes as she pulled us both into a hug. “My babies. Finally, right where they were always meant to be. Couldn’t love you more.”

“Why’s Grandma all blubbery?” Charlie called.

“Don’t say blubbery,” she called back.

“Your gran is just a little emotional because your uncle Nash asked Maddie to marry him,” Nathan said with a huge smile.

Shouts sounded, and we were soon surrounded. It was certainly chaos, but the happiest kind I could imagine—everything I’d ever wanted and never had.

My eyes locked with Nash’s over the crowd. “Love you, I mouthed.

Tenderness filled his gaze, and he mouthed back, “Always will.”

And that was everything.


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