Epilogue

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Epilogue

Aiden

...Two months later...

"Nervous?" Maddie asks.

Smoothing the black tie down the front of my white, buttoned-up shirt, my eyes meet hers in the mirror. "Nervous? Nah. I'm good." But my insides spell something different. Of course I'm fucking nervous. She doesn't have to know that, though. None of them do.

I turn on my heel and slide my hands into my pockets. "It's not as if it's—" I'm cut off, three quick raps at the door interrupting me.

"Come in," I call, leaning back onto the bureau.

Travis pops his head in, "Hey, have you seen—" but spotting Maddie on the loveseat, he switches gears, "There you are." He strides through the door in his monkey suit and plops down onto the sofa next to her. "Get over here," he grunts as he scoots her closer, practically pulling her into his lap as she giggles like a little schoolgirl.

I let out a long groan. "I'm standing right here. Shouldn't you two be past that mushy gushy crap by now anyway?" I joke. I don't actually give a shit, but giving them heat for it is too entertaining, though it hardly affects her anymore. But it also keeps my mind off of the situation my present reality has landed me in, and I'll take that where I can get it.

"You're in a shit mood this morning," Travis comments. "Cold feet?"

"Nope," is my quick reply.

Maddie sighs. "You know you don't have to do this, right?"

"Of course I know that. But do either of you have a better solution?" I ask, though I know this is the only one. I'm doing what needs to be done; the girl's been through enough.

After a beat of silence, Maddie quietly responds, "If it's not what you want, you could always let them find her a—"

"Don't even say it," I growl, my jaw clenching tight. "You know that's not an option."

Just thinking of her being paired off with some—never mind, I inhale deeply. I curl my hands into fists inside my pockets, forcing down that aggression. If I'm being honest, I'm not even sure where the hell it comes from when it concerns her, but that's what got me into this mess to begin with. That immediate, instinctual need to protect her. I still don't fucking get it.

The two lovebirds eye each other, turning those knowing smirks on me. Son of a—

"Aiden..." Maddie starts, smiling sweetly.

"Don't start," I cut her off. I know what she's gonna say, and I've heard enough of it lately.

"I just keep thinking, maybe this was meant to be," she finishes anyway.

I glare at her.

"Sorry, sorry," she quickly says, holding her hands up.

Travis looks between the both of us and chuckles. "You do have it bad," he comments.

"You're one to talk," I grumble as the door swings open.

Alex walks in, and Sanders shuffles in behind her.

"It's time," she says as she makes her way towards me. She slides her arms through mine for a brief hug and then steps away, holding herself at arm's length. "You ready?" she questions.

I don't miss the sadness that flashes in her eyes, or the sympathetic smile. It's the first time I find myself wanting to question her about the decision I've made. Too little, too late.

"Yep," I exhale. "I'm ready."

"You sure, man?" Sanders asks. "These people don't take this shit lightly. You do this? And your ass is in it for the long haul."

"I get it, and I'm sure," I answer. I might've made this decision on a whim, but I know what I've agreed to. I know what it entails.

"Let's go then, bro. Your girl's waiting." He slaps me on the back.

**********

As I wait for her at the altar, my palms grow sweaty. I pay no mind to the stares boring into me from the pews—probably trying to decipher my thoughts or feelings on the matter. But I've given them nothing, and I don't plan on doing so now. It doesn't make a difference anyway. However I might feel about it, I'm not backing down.

I glance at the clock on the far wall. Five minutes past. Where is she?

In my effort to shove my own shit aside, it never occurred to me that she could regret this decision. Or that she might bail on me. Is she having second thoughts?

I wouldn't blame her.

The organ's pipes rumble to life; the strength of its notes vibrate through the room. Then they round the corner. Her arm is curled through Travis's as they make their way down the aisle. He leans down to say something into her ear, and she nods, her face obscured by a veil of white.

My mind is suddenly bombarded by memories. Memories of Sara and I, and our naïve dreams. We knew nothing then. Nothing of our corrupt government and the sick system it runs on. Marriage didn't even exist in our world, not legally, but we were two stupid kids in love. And that was our dream, so I always thought if I'd be standing here, it'd be because I was marrying her.

I fidget with the ring in my pocket, swirling it around my finger as I pull my attention back to the room. Just in time. She takes her final step, and Travis lifts her veil, placing a kiss to her cheek. I bend my arm out to her, and she slides hers through mine. And damn, she looks beautiful. Even with her round stomach showing.

The pastor begins talking, but his words quickly bleed together. I speak up when I'm supposed to, having somehow memorized the words I'm meant to say. When we turn to face each other, I slide my fingers through hers. She looks up at me, her hazel eyes both excited and terrified. And that instinct kicks in again. I want to tell her it'll all be alright, because she's mine now.

Mine to protect, and mine to take care of.

My wife.

My fucking wife.

What the hell did I get myself into? But damn if it doesn't feel right. Her eyes fall to my lips, her breaths quickening.

I want to kiss you too, Danielle.

She laughs, for the first time in days. I must have said that out loud. A glance to our audience confirms it. Well...fuck. Smug assholes.

"You better make it good then, hot stuff," she quips, smiling.

"I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss your bride," the pastor says.

So I do just that, and give her the best damn kiss of her life.

***Author's Note***

Oh my goodness! We can't believe we've officially written an entire book! Yay!!! :) And cheers to all of you awesome people who have gotten our book to 380K reads!!! We still can't believe it. And we hit #1 in Scifi last week!!! All thanks to you! <3 <3 <3

So... what did you think of our epilogue?! Please, please vote and comment if you liked it! And this means book 2 will be from Aiden and Danielle's POV. We hope you're happy about that. We sure are excited about it!

Don't archive our book quite yet. ;) We've got a few little things coming, and some more info on what's to come as far as our story goes. So see you then!

Thank you so much for reading!!

Don't miss the novelette, Falling from Grace, after all the Breeder Nation Extras!

<3 <3 Kara Michelle

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