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Whispers of You: Epilogue



Holt spread a blanket out over what I’d come to think of as our spot. We’d had a lot of them over the years. Hideouts on his parents’ property. The massive, overstuffed chair in the house I’d grown up in. The dock we’d spent hours on the moment the weather allowed.

But this one was my favorite. Maybe because of the moments and places that had come before it. Maybe because this was the spot where we would build our lives.

Holt grabbed the picnic basket and gestured for me to sit.

Shadow raced across the blanket and bounded into the field below. Grinning, I lowered myself as a bubble of anticipation floated through me—and perhaps a healthy dose of nerves.

Holt grinned. “You know we can change anything we don’t like.”

“I know. But we’ve talked this through with the architects, over and over. I’m hoping it’s a slam dunk right out of the gate.” The more tweaks we made, the longer it would take for us to be in our home.

He leaned over and brushed his lips across mine. “Me, too. But better that it’s right than us rushing it.”

“Why do you always have to make such good points when it comes to house-related things?” I grumbled.

Holt chuckled. The sound had changed in the last two months. It was lighter. Freer somehow. “You don’t have to sound so annoyed about it.”

“I can’t help it. It annoys me when you’re right and I’m wrong.”

He pressed his lips together to keep from laughing. “This is about Newsprint Gray, isn’t it?”

“It looks so freaking good with the photos we hung!”

Holt did laugh then, pulling me onto his lap and kissing me soundly. “I promise to be wrong about at least five things while we’re building this house.”

I grinned against his mouth. “That would be the gentlemanly thing to do.”

“And you know I’m a gentleman.”

The husky edge to his voice made heat pool low in my belly. “Please, for the love of all that’s holy, do not use that tone right now.”

“What tone?” Holt asked innocently, but his eyes had a devilish gleam.

I pinched his side. “You know it makes me want to jump your bones, and if we get arrested for indecent exposure, it really is going to be a long time before we look at these plans.”

Holt sighed. “Fine. House plans now, sex later.”

My belly clenched at the promise in his words. “Thank you.”

Holt kept me on his lap but grabbed the cylindrical case holding the architectural drawings. Carefully, he unrolled them in front of us. There was a stack of pages to go through, but that first page stole my breath.

Tears gathered in my eyes. “It’s perfect.”

Holt held me tighter against him. “Hey, what’s with the waterworks?”

“It’s just…I love it.” It was everything we’d dreamed of, a blend of rustic mountain lodge and farmhouse with a huge wraparound porch. “They even drew my swing in.”

His lips skimmed my neck. “I told them we needed the swing for it to feel right.”

“I love you. Have I told you that today?”

“Only ten times, so you’ve got at least ten more to go.”

I laughed and flipped to the next page of the plans. The architects had taken everything we’d told them to the next level. The first floor was open and airy with massive windows. The kitchen spilled into a family room on one side and a dining room on the other. A huge stone fireplace separated the dining room and another living space.

A basement would house a game room with a massive TV on one side and a gym that Holt had said he needed on the other. The second story held five bedrooms, including a suite for us with a dream bathroom.

As my fingers trailed over one of the secondary bedrooms, my heart picked up speed. “We could make this one a nursery. It’s the closest to ours and has a pretty view of the woods.”

Holt grinned, his lips ghosting across my hair. “I love that plan.”

I gripped his arms as I breathed deeply. “How would you feel about filling that room a little earlier than we planned?”

Holt’s body went rigid beneath mine. “Cricket?”

I twisted in his hold, needing to see his face. Those deep blue eyes held so much as they scanned my face.

He swallowed hard. “Are you?”

“You know how I was on antibiotics last month? I forgot that it can affect birth control. I was late, so I went to the doc this morning. I didn’t want to buy a test at the store. It would’ve been all over town in two seconds. I know we weren’t planning—”

Holt cut me off with a searing kiss as his hand came around to my stomach. “I’ve never wanted anything more than a family with you.”

Tears filled my eyes. “Stop making me cry.”

“Sorry, Cricket.” He pulled back, his brow furrowing. “Are you feeling okay? You said you were nauseous yesterday.”

“That’s what tipped me off. But it hasn’t been too bad so far.”

“You need to rest. We need to get you some prenatal vitamins and get a list of foods that are good to eat and—”

I silenced him with another kiss. “I’m going to be okay.”

Holt’s thumb swept back and forth across my belly. “We’re having a baby,” he whispered, and the words had a reverence to them that had emotion clogging my throat.

“I never thought I could be this happy.”

“You know, you really stole my thunder.”

I looked up at him, eyes dancing. “For what?”

“I got you a present in honor of our house plans. Something to put in the library.”

I straightened in his lap. “I like presents.”

Holt chuckled and reached into the picnic basket. “Happy new home.”

I tore at the pale pink paper with no sign of patience. The book was old, but the cloth binding was still pristine. “Holt…”

Gold lettering stamped Little Women across the front. My fingers traced the design etched into the cover as I opened it. “This is…” My head jerked. “A first edition?”

“Our library deserves something special, don’t you think?”

“This is amazing. It’s so beautiful.”

“There’s a special bookmark in there, too.”

I flipped the pages until my fingers caught on a ribbon, and I tugged it free. My heart hammered against my ribs as a shimmering stone caught the light.

Holt caught the ring. “Never thought I’d get this kind of happiness. This joy.” He slid the ring onto my finger, the massive oval diamond glowing in the fading sunlight. “But, somehow, you keep giving me more. Marry me?”

I tilted my head back to take in the beautiful man behind me. “You’ve given me everything. And still, you give me more.”

“Is that a yes?”

“Yes,” I breathed, my mouth meeting his.

As the sky faded into twilight, I knew all those dreams we’d conjured up years ago were finally coming true. And having them now, we’d appreciate them all the more for everything we’d been through.


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