Chapter 37 - Lost bet

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When they arrived at her parent's house, Leah was impressed, but Caleb played it cool as he had already been to Nick and Sara's.

Ella couldn't stop smiling if she tried because Joe had surprised her with a diamond ring and a marriage proposal that morning in front of their tree and both Caleb and Leah. His siblings were very tired and had complained they were too old to get up early on Christmas.

Before Ella answered Joe, she asked, "My father?"

"He consented, but I secretly think he only did to get Caleb in the family. I'll take it even if I'm the consolation prize."

"You're not my consolation."

"Is that a yes?" Joe asked.

"Of course it's a yes!"

"Phew! I was so nervous. I never did that before."

Ella was shocked. "Never!"

"No, my mother told us we were getting married. I never asked her," Joe said.

Leah said, "Stop talking about that bitch. It's Christmas and she ruined last year, but not this year."

Caleb added, "Or any ever again."

She was excited to show her family her ring. Although it wasn't big she loved it because she had been waiting for so long. She had survived heartbreak and enough tears to fill Lake Sebago. She loved Joe and they were going to be a family forever.

Everyone gathered around and they all were excited. Only her father was staying out of the fray. Once the excitement died down she asked, "Daddy, are you okay?"

"I only want you to be happy, princess."

It had been years since he called her princess.

"You don't look happy..."

He let out a slight laugh. "I have my pride and now I've lost a bet with your mother."

Ella smiled remembering hearing about the bet from Ava. She went up to her sister and whispered, "Dad lost the bet. He'll probably be mad at Tony for not proposing."

Ava laughed, "We're not in a hurry like you."

"I waited a long time for this."

"I know El, I'm happy for you."

The day was full of laughter and Ella was glad to be back with her family. Most importantly she was glad for her new family — Joe, Caleb, and Leah. She gained a sister and a brother who was a little bit like a son.

Joe found her standing alone and smiling at the crowd. Wrapping her in his arms, he asked, "Are you happy?"

"I've never been happier. I love you, Joe. I never stopped, even when I wanted to I couldn't."

"El, I love you more than words."

She smiled, "...And you love words."

Joe kissed her and she was certain that her toes curled.

Tim sat down at the piano with his wife beside him and they started to play a familiar tune together.  Joe whispered to Ella, "What's that song?"

"Heart and Soul... I'll teach it to you."

Joe wondered if Ella was a good enough teacher to teach him piano.  He didn't have a musical bone in his body. 

Tim began to play Christmas carols and called out, "Hey Caleb!"

"Yeah doc?"

"I need you to sing since your brother can't."

Tim was right but he could enjoy listening to his future wife and brother sing together. 

Later when Nick and Clare's families had left and everyone one was feeling full and subdued, Ava asked, "Why is Dad doing the dishes?"

"Because he lost a bet," Julie answered.

Ava replied, "Really!"

Tim called out, "Really and Ella and Joe should be helping me. It's their fault I'm being forced to do them."

Ava said to Julie, "I overheard your bet, but what would you have had to do if dad won?"

Julie blushed and said, "Oh nothing."

Ava exclaimed, "Too much information!"

Tim called, "You girls aren't the only ones in love. We know what you're up to with your sleepovers."

Caleb said, "Sleepover... I don't know why she even has an apartment."

Joe said, "Thanks a lot Cay."

Ella said, "It's okay. I've given notice on my lease. We're hoping to buy a house."

"Where?" Julie asked.

"Close to work because that's where Caleb's friends are. I know you'd like your grandchildren right next door, but we'll be close enough."

"Say that again," Julie said.

"What?" Ella asked confused.

"Grandchildren!"

Tim said, "Joe, if you have a boy I'll forgive you."

"I have Caleb... he's a boy."

"Alright, I forgive you."

"Can I call you Tim again?" Joe asked pushing his luck.

"Yeah, but only because Caleb calls me Doc and it would ruin it if you did too."

Joe smiled and said, "Merry Christmas, Tim."

Tim smiled and said, "If you hurt her again, I'll rip out your heart."

Joe said, "I already gave it to her. It's no longer mine."

Tim sighed and said, "Caleb did you heard that? Is he always such a sap?"

"Yup Doc. My brother's a sap but we secretly love him."

Joe said, "Ah huh! It's not a secret now."

Ella laughed, "It never really was. Caleb tells everyone but you."

Joe smile, "Love you too Cay!"

"Sap!" Caleb said.

Ella said, "Yes, but he's my sap and we're going to live happily ever after."

Hey readers of The Point stories did anyone notice some shared characters?

Thank you for going on this journey with Joe and Ella and Caleb.  I appreciate every vote and comment more than I can ever express in words and I love words!

Thank you to my friend Al who read first drafts and provided feedback.  It was Al who suggested that Caleb should get sick and need Tim hence the accident.

Go to the next chapter to see what is in store next this summer and for the Burke Family.

Love, Annie

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