Still smiling to myself, I turned over in bed and patted the now empty spot beside me. Ranger jumped up next to me, putting his head on Shane’s pillow. I got a wet kiss on the chin from his big tongue and wrapped my arms around him. Ranger would always be my first baby. Even though Violet took up all my time—and I would never change that for a second—I made sure that Ranger still knew that we loved him.
Cuddled with my dog, it didn’t take long before I was falling back to sleep.
Shane gave me two extra hours of sleep before waking me with breakfast in bed. He set the tray down across my legs as he and Violet sat on the end of our bed. “Violet helped,” he informed me and I saw exactly how helpful our newly three-year-old had been. Heart-shaped pancakes filled the plate with lots of bananas and plenty of chocolate chips on top.
“And a bickle,” Violet said importantly.
“Yes, and the pickle.” I grinned at her and held out my hands for her. “Do I get birthday kisses, too?”
She was across the bed in a flash, wrapping her arms around me tightly. “Love you, Mommy.”
I held her close, breathing in all her clean hair and sweet skin. “Love you more, Violet.”
She sat beside me, watching me patiently eat my breakfast, including the pickle. When I was done, Shane took the tray away and I pulled Violet onto my lap. “Are you ready for your birthday story?”
Her eyes widened with delight and she nodded her head, causing long caramel-colored hair to fall in her face. I pushed it back, delighting in how her violet eyes sparkled. I touched my finger to her nose, making her giggle. “A long time ago, Mommy and Daddy wanted a beautiful little baby to call their own,” I began.
Every year on her birthday I told her the same story. About how Mommy and Daddy had wanted her so much and then one day, a special fairy had put her inside my tummy. I never told her about the night she was born, though. Shane and I both still had nightmares about that night that we would never dare to fill Violet’s head with. So I ended the story with the most important part.
“…and then Daddy pulled his Violet from Mommy’s tummy and dashed her with all the hope we had always had for her. And our Violet became the most beautiful little girl the world had ever seen.”
Violet let out a contented little sigh. “That my pavorite part,” she told me.
“Mine too,” Shane said as he sat down on the bed again, giving her a smacking kiss on the lips. “I like my Violets with a dash of Hope.”
I sat there, watching my two favorite people in the world loving each other, and felt tears sting my eyes. Shane caught the sight of them and his own eyes started to glitter, but he blinked them back and cleared his throat as he got up. “Okay, Violet. Time to let Mommy get up and showered. Then we can start setting up for your party.”
“Yay.” She stood up on the mattress and started dancing around. “Me wike parties, Daddy.”
“Kisses.” I held out my arms, and Violet carefully bent to kiss me. “Mm, the best kisses in the world.”
“Love you, Mommy.” She rubbed her nose against my own and then jumped into her father’s waiting arms.
“Love you more, Violet.”
I took my time in the shower, knowing I had plenty of time. By the time I got downstairs, Shane was already outside setting up. Violet was on the beach, playing in the sand with a bucket while Ranger watched over her protectively.
“It’s a good day for the party,” I murmured as I dropped my head back and enjoyed the sun soaking into my skin.
“Don’t say it,” Shane growled as he wrapped his arms around me.
I grinned. “At least it isn’t raining.”
Blue-gray eyes narrowed on me. “I hate the rain.” He pressed a kiss to my lips and stepped back reluctantly. “Is Linc bringing the cake?”
I took a seat at the table Shane had just finished covering with a purple tablecloth. “No, Linc is bringing the pizza. Jesse and Layla are picking up the cake for us.”
Shane sat in the chair beside me and lifted my feet onto his lap. “Well, at least they’re useful for something.”
“My God, Shane,” I chided. “They’re still just babies. Don’t go borrowing trouble.”
He turned his gaze out to the beach where Violet was clueless to the murderous thoughts filling her father’s head. “If you say so.”
I rolled my eyes. Poor Violet. Poor Luca. I didn’t know who I was more concerned for. Luca had taken to Violet as soon as he’d set eyes on her. “Mine,” he’d told everyone in the hospital room two days after Violet’s birth. “Pwetty. Mine,” he’d declared with a stubborn finality in his voice.
I’d thought it was adorable. He’d done the same thing throughout my pregnancy, as if he had sensed that the little baby inside was going to be his to protect forever. Over the last three years, Luca and Violet had become best friends. At times I thought the two were closer than Luca and Lyric—and they were inseparable. When Luca was with Violet, Lyric came second to the older twin, but Lyric didn’t seem to mind. He was just as protective of my baby girl as his brother.
Shane just couldn’t see past the idea of a boy caring about his daughter—the little girl who was the air in his chest—to see that what Luca shared with Violet was special.
Before long the house started filling up with all our family. Violet helped us greet them all, her excitement so strong she was practically dancing. Until Jesse and Layla arrived with Lucy and the twins. As soon as violet eyes saw those ever-changing brown ones, no one else mattered. She took him out to the beach to play with her buckets and they played for over an hour before I had to remind her that she had other guests who wanted to celebrate with her too.
With a sigh that said she thought I was being unreasonable, Violet stomped back to the patio where we were all ready to sing “Happy Birthday”.
Hours later, once everyone was gone, and I had Violet bathed and tucked in, I crawled into bed beside Shane and tried to get comfortable. My ever-growing stomach, however, made that nearly impossible.
Shane reached for me in the dark, his hands rubbing over where his son had been kicking up a storm all day, his lips seeking mine. Unlike with my pregnancy with Violet, I hadn’t had any scares and Shane hadn’t been able to keep his hands to himself. Now we were only a few weeks away from meeting Mason.
I’d thought our chance at miracles was over when we’d been given Violet. I’d been content with just one and hadn’t even gone back to Dr. Bambach to try and get pregnant again. So when I’d started losing my breakfast eight months ago, I hadn’t even dreamed that I’d be told I was pregnant when I’d gone to the doctor. I’d just assumed it was a stomach bug or something.
Shane had been home with Violet while I’d gone to the doctor that day. Peterson had driven me, since we still kept him around. I didn’t go anywhere alone without him, not because I was worried, but because I just didn’t want to take any chances. He’d driven me home with a grin on his normally taciturn face and I’d run into the house, so happy at finding out I was pregnant again that I couldn’t even talk.
“What’s wrong?” Shane had demanded then, seeing the tears in my eyes and thinking something was wrong. “Are you okay? Is it something bad?”
It had taken me a minute to catch my breath. “No,” I cried as I’d wrapped my arms around his neck. “You’re going to be a daddy again.”
Shane had gone as still as a statue and it had taken me a moment to realize he was crying too. “Really?” he’d whispered as tears had spilled down his face. “Another baby?”
I’d taken his hand and pressed it to my lower stomach. “Really, Daddy. One more miracle for us to cherish.”
Now, Shane’s hands were tracing over every inch of my body, turning up the heat to an almost unbearable degree as my need for him grew more demanding. “I love you so much, baby.”
I grinned against his lips. “I love you more.”
“I’m so happy right now I think I might die from it.” He skimmed his nose down my neck, making me shiver with desire
. “I never thought I would ever be this happy in my life, but you’ve given me so much, beautiful. Thank you.”
Tears were quick to sting my eyes. “Ah, babe. Don’t make me cry.”
He pulled back, lifting his head so he could look down at me. “I don’t say it to make you cry, beautiful. It’s just the truth. You are my everything.”
My chin trembled and I tried to hold back the sob his words were creating.
“You, Harper Stevenson, are my forever.”
“Love Me Till It Hurts” by Papa Roach
“Let Your Tears Fall” by Kelly Clarkson
“Die a Happy Man” by Thomas Rhett
“If You Only Knew” by Shinedown
“When I’m Holding Her” by Chris Janson
“I Won’t Say Goodbye” by Failure Anthum
“Heal” by Ellie Goulding
“Burn With Me” by Armaranthe
“Touch” by Pia Mia
“Wildfire” by Demi Lovato
“Haven’t Had Enough” by Mariana’s Trenches
“Can’t Help Falling in Love With You” by Haley Reinhart
I honestly can’t believe that it’s over. Twelve books and you kept coming back for more. Thank you so much for that. I hope you all know how much you’ve come to mean to me over the last three years. Without you, my readers, The Rocker…Series would have been nothing. It would have started and ended with Emmie and I’d be working as an RN in a hospital in Alabama right now. I’m pretty sure that some of Emmie’s gods stepped in and moved us all in this direction.
This is the part where I’m supposed to thank everyone who made this book possible, but I can’t do that without first thanking you. Without readers this wouldn’t be possible. If anyone doesn’t understand that, then they’ve obviously lost their minds. So thank you, from the bottom of my heart for reading each one of The Rocker… books and begging me for more. I am truly humbled by the reactions I’ve gotten from each one and thankful that my rockers have come to touch so many of your lives. I know that for some, reading is their escape from the harshness of their everyday lives. From sick kids to being sick yourself, from tragedy and feeling hopeless, Emmie and her guys have brought you peace along the way. These books will always be there for you to fall back on and remind you that you aren’t alone in the great big vastness of the world.
Special thanks to Lorelei Logsdon for being such a kickass editor, and to M.L. Pahl of IndieVention Designs for working so hard on the graphics and formatting for each masterpiece. Thank you to Heather Lane of Book Obsession Production for your amazing book trailers and teasers. I’d be lost without any of you three amazing women.
I would like to thank all my fellow authors who have stood behind me over the past three years. You have become some of my dearest friends and some of you are as close as family to me. You all make the book world so much more interesting and I feel like a better person for having been able to meet you.
Last, but never—ever—least, I want to thank Mike Browning for helping me through the creation of all of The Rocker…Series books and every other book I’ve written along the way. You have stood beside me through the rough times, behind me when I needed someone to have my back the most, and I honestly never want to know what it will feel like to not have you in my life. I love you to the moon and back, Big Daddy. Then. Now. Forever.