My Darling Bride: Epilogue

I stir from my nap, the soft sounds of waves crashing against the shore in the distance. My eyes flutter open to the sight of the Prince of Darkness snuggled up on my chest like a fuzzy, purring blanket. Yes, he came with us to Santorini. Our one-year-old daughter (Hazel Darling Harlan) loves him, and Magic travels well.

A smile tugs at the corners of my mouth. The damn cat has finally warmed to me, and all it took was Hazel crawling around after me at the apartment. Magic just trailed right along, and pretty soon we got used to each other.

“Hey, buddy,” I say, scratching his head gently.

His eyes peer up at me, and he lets out a little mewl. Slowly and carefully, I ease myself into a sitting position, trying not to disturb him too much. He stretches lazily in a sunbeam before hopping off my chest and onto the cool, tiled floor of the villa Emmy and I bought after our honeymoon. Nestled into the side of the mountains, it overlooks the Aegean Sea and has a private grotto and lagoon below the house.

“All right, Magic”—I smirk—“let’s get you that treat I promised for not shredding my shirt I left on the floor last night.”

As I stand up, the light catches my wedding band, glinting, the weight familiar around my finger. It brings back memories of our honeymoon in Santorini, the laughter we had as we traced cobblestone streets, drank ouzo, and ate delicious local food. I recall her hand in mine, the way her eyes gleamed when she smiled up at me.

“Here you go, you little con artist,” I say as I toss a treat to the cat. He leaps into the air, catching it midflight before landing gracefully on the ground. His half tail swishes proudly as he attacks the treat, then struts back to the couch.

“Show-off,” I tease. “Just remember who keeps those coming, yeah? Emmy doesn’t let you have them.”

I swear he winks at me.

I glance around the bright, airy space of the villa, the sunlight streaming in and making patterns. The scent of sea and salt mingles with the aroma of blooming flowers outside. Emmy picked out this house on our honeymoon as one she’d like if she had the opportunity, not knowing that I planned on buying one. It was a great Christmas surprise that first year.

With a contented sigh, I walk down the hall to the nursery to check on my little angel. I tiptoe into her room, and sure enough, she’s still sleeping, her arm curled around her own special Wilbur that Jane and Andrew picked out. Watching her tiny chest rise and fall, it seems almost impossible that my life could be this idyllic. I’m overcome with gratefulness. Emotion tugs at me as I slide a piece of white-blonde hair away from her face and behind her ear.

“Keep dreaming those dreams, my angel. Daddy will do everything he can to make them come true.”

I can’t believe it’s been a year since she came into our lives. I recall the frantic rush to the hospital to deliver her, the worry I felt for Emmy’s heart, even though the doctor assured us she was fine, as was the baby. Holding her in my arms, I knew my life would always revolve around her. Around Emmy. Around family.

Having a child has only cemented my confidence in leaving behind football. I thought football was everything. I thought it was my passion. Ha. I was so wrong. This. Here. Family is my passion. Being with the people who love me is what makes my world turn.

That circle includes my dad. We’ve spent more time together since his retirement. He enjoys popping into the bookstore to see us and even works at Brody’s gym behind the juice bar.

“Every day with you and your mom is a gift, my darling baby.”

Making sure the monitor is on, I head to our bedroom and change into a pair of swim trunks. I caught sight of Emmy down at the lagoon earlier, the light dancing on her long blonde hair, illuminating her fair skin like the goddess she is.

I take the path that leads to the water, past bright-green shrubs and pretty flowers. We try to spend several weeks a year here. Our staff at the bookstore is solid, especially now that Jane is a full-time manager with Babs. Andrew works there part time while he goes to NYU. He’s determined to pay for his tuition himself and doesn’t mind if it takes him several years.

“Hey,” I call out to her, and she flips up her sunglasses and smirks at me.

“Hey. Nice nap? Is Hazel still asleep?”

I nod.

“Aw, you brought a friend.”

I glance behind me, and Magic sits on top of a rock, peering around the sea as if he’s a king.

“You need some lotion?” I ask as I flop down next to her and take in her willowy long legs and red bikini.

She nods, and I get to work, pouring out the coconut-scented lotion and rubbing it onto her sun-kissed shoulders, down to her spine, to the small of her back. My hand dips inside her bottoms and massages her ass.

She groans and tells me how good it feels, and I chuckle.

“Wanna race to the water?” I ask, winking at her as I stand up and stretch my muscles, still tight and toned. I work out at Brody’s gym nearly every day.

“Prize?” She tips off her straw hat and smiles.

“Hmm, whoever wins gets to pick what’s for dinner.”

She checks me out. “I lost the last competition we had. I might have to cheat on this race.”

“You can’t win. I’ll always be faster.”

“Really? What about now?” She unclips her bikini and tosses the fabric over her head.

My tongue darts out and wets my bottom lip as I gaze longingly at her delicate face, those perfect tits, the curve of her waist. Damn, she is so achingly beautiful and sexy.

“You’re really not being fair. You know I love your boobs! Hey—”

“Too late,” she cries as she darts for the water.

Laughing, I take off after her, nearly catching her until she plunges into the lagoon.

“I win!” she calls out as she jumps in, hair slicked back.

I concede, panting slightly as I wrap my arms around her waist and pull her close to me. Our eyes lock, and I can see the tranquility there. The peace and happiness radiating between us.

“Victory is sweet,” she whispers, pressing her lips against mine in a slow, passionate kiss that sends shivers down my spine. “And I want you for dinner, Mr. Harlan.”

My cock hardens in an instant. “If you’re in a hurry, no one will see us near the trees.”

She glances around to ensure our privacy. We’re completely alone.

“Not a soul in sight,” I say.

I carry her to the shore and underneath the trees. We’re close enough to still hear the baby monitor if Hazel wakes up.

I arrange the beach towels, marveling at how lucky I am to have her, to hold my darling under the sun as it dapples the palm fronds above.

“I love you,” I say, my voice barely audible over the lapping of the waves.

“Same,” she breathes as we surrender to the moment, to the passion that still burns between us like a wildfire.

The world fades as we make love, as I experience the life I was always meant to have.

The end


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