“I’d love that.”
He beams at my words. “Then it’s time.”
My heart feels full as I follow him out the door and into the hallway. I’m not sure of the location or what to expect, so when we step outside and see the grounds facing the water set up for a ceremony, my breath leaves my body.
Seats have been set up with flowers and candles on either side of an aisle that runs up to the edge of the cliff, and at the end stands Jaxson. He’s not in a tux or a suit. But it wouldn’t be Jax if he was. No, he’s wearing white linen pants and a light blue button-down. His hair is unruly like always, but this time, it’s not from running his fingers through it. This time, it’s from the breeze coming across the water.
I nod, and Grayson and I start to walk. As soon as I step on the path that will bring me to my soon-to-be husband, violins start to play in the background. I don’t even know where it’s coming from, but the sound makes this feel real.
Jaxson has thought of everything.
Each step I take brings me closer to my future until I’m standing in front of him, and he’s staring down at me.
Taking my hands in his, he speaks.
“The very first time I saw you, I knew you were different. I knew you were someone I wanted to know. I love you, Willow. I love you now. Tomorrow. I love you forever. Every part of you. No matter what.”
“I love you too.” I hiccup through my tears, and he smiles, pulls me to him, and seals his mouth to mine.
I’m sure Trent says something else, but I’m lost in Jax’s lips and what the future will hold.
* * *
Four Years Later . . .
My gaze scans the distance ahead of me, and I can’t believe this is my life. After everything I have been through, I find I still want to pinch myself sometimes. How did I get so lucky? Yes, there are days I miss my mother and father terribly. Even today, as I stare across the field at my daughter running toward the bouncy house, I know Mom would have loved to be here. But as I look at all the faces around me, everyone here celebrating my daughter’s second birthday, I know I’m blessed.
I take a few steps closer to where the cake is to light the candle, and then I lift my arm in the air to signal for Jax to come over.
He’s standing with his brother. They look deep in conversation, but now I know that even though their faces are serious, they aren’t fighting. No, they stopped fighting years ago. Right after Jax left Price Enterprise to start his own consulting firm, things changed between them. Of course, Jax’s biggest client is his brother, but it took most of the pressure off them.
The change didn’t happen overnight, but each day, they got closer and closer. Grayson still made the ritual phone call every morning, but instead of harping about the endless tasks he thought Jax should be accomplishing, he would call just to talk. Now years later, I know it’s one of Jax’s favorite parts of the day.
It makes me happy to know he has that.
As for me, I’ve been busy being a mom. But that’s not all my life has become. I actually went back home to Madison Bay, and after a few weeks, I placed my father’s company on the market. Being home, I realized there was nothing left for me other than painful memories. The happy memories I carry in my heart, and it doesn’t matter where I am, my mom and dad are always with me.
I took the money I made and opened a haven of my own.
This time for women and children of abuse. Shay is now my business partner. We provide all the resources a woman would need to start over and find her strength.
It feels good to help. I was lucky enough to have Jax and Maggie; not everyone is as lucky as I was.
I smile to myself as I watch my husband smirk at Grayson, and I follow where they are looking.
That’s when I see that my daughter, Penelope, is playing with Grayson’s daughter, Skylar. The leaders of the pack are Addison and Oliver’s kids, Charlie and Sophie.
They are taking turns going down the large inflatable slide.