One Year Later...
Emma sat between Andrew's legs, her back to his front, on the floor of the townhouse while the Devon and Bella opened presents in a whirlwind of action, and Jeffrey sat in his recliner, supervising. The place was a mess—the discarded wrapping paper covered every inch of carpet, but neither of them moved to clean it. The happiness on the girls' faces at their Christmas presents was worth the disaster spreading throughout the house.
Andrew whispered in Emma's ear. "What do you think? Time to tell them?" He squeezed his arms around her, the warmth of his long arms embracing her had become her favorite feeling over the past year. He must have felt her tense up because he added, "I can't believe you're scared."
She spun to face him, speaking quietly so the girls couldn't hear. "What if they don't want me around, you know, permanently? What if they think I'm trying to take you away from them?"
He touched his nose against hers, his green eyes piercing her grey. "You've pretty much been around here permanently, and I think they actually like you more than me now anyway."
Emma tsked. She wasn't sure if he was kidding or not, but this was a huge step for all of them. After a year of dating, Emma had asked Andrew to marry her the week before, under the tree at Rockefeller Center. Posing the question had been risky, but she still had a little of that CEO in her and risk-taking didn't scare her.
She had been edgy the entire time during their trip to the tree, afraid that even though he'd moved on with her and they'd been together and committed to a future together for almost a year, that maybe his feelings for Hayley were too strong for him to overcome.
But she'd overcome her fear of failure when she left BI and started Lucy Loo's, her scarf project. Up and running, Lucy Loo's had started taking orders and had even hired staff for the holiday season. The risk was paying off. Hopefully, the risk in her personal life would result in the same—success. But if Andrew said no, then they'd pick up the pieces and continue down the route they were going.
So with a deep breath, she'd turned to him, watching him gaze up at the tree. When he realized she was watching him, he'd looked down at her. "Everything okay, Boss Lady?"
She'd smiled at the nickname he couldn't seem to shake. "I can picture you as a little boy whenever you're in the city," she'd said. "You always look amazed, full of wonder."
"Maybe that's not because of the city," he'd said, wrapping his arms around her. "Maybe it's because of you." He'd kissed her nose. "Love you."
Taking the words as an opening, she squinted up at him. "About that..."
"You're supposed to say, 'love you too.'"
"What if I said more than that?"
"More than I love you?" he'd asked, clearly confused. "Like...you adore me to the moon and back for infinity and infinity?"
She'd laughed. "Um, wow. And yes, of course I do. But I was thinking along the lines of..."
Pulling away from him, she'd held his hands. Then she lifted their joined hands, and wiggled underneath them, so that he'd spin her, which he'd done.
"Along the lines of what, exactly?" He'd smiled, pulling her close and swaying with her under the tree.
"Well," she started, "this past year has been the best year of my life. You and the girls, even Jeffrey, are everything to me. The way you've supported and loved me, made me laugh, held me when I cried. I feel like I'm part of your family. Not that I'm replacing anyone, but that you've all squished over and made room for me, so to speak."
YOU ARE READING
Emma Ballard, a retired supermodel, has been the acting CEO and face of her family's clothing business for the past five years, living the busy corporate life in New York City. She meets the Jersey branch IT supervisor, theater-nerd Andrew Mooney, w...