Chapter Twenty-Three: Six Months Later
AGENTLE BREEZE LIFTSmy hair, stirring the tiny white baby’s breath flowers woven into the dark strands. My feet are bare, and I curl my toes into the warm, white sand. The gentle rush of waves hitting the shore greets my ears, and the scent of saltwater mixes with my now signature perfume.
It’s a perfect day, the sun kissing the skin of my bare arms.
A female voice comes from beside me. “I can’t believe you live here now.”
I turn to smile at Ruth. “I know. Crazy, isn’t it?”
“It’s like you’re one of the super-rich.”
I laugh. “Nah, I just live like one.”
That isn’t strictly true. I have my own money now. Not long after we’d taken down Wren, Rafferty deposited one million dollars into my personal account. I’d told him it wasn’t necessary, but he wanted me to have my independence, if I chose it. He didn’t want me putting my hand out every time I needed something, or to ever feel like I was bound to them, or the island, purely for financial reasons.
I can hardly believe how lucky I am.
Despite this, a sadness resides inside me that I don’t have my mother with me today. She’d have loved to see me like this, though I have to smile at the thought of how she’d react when she realized it was four men I was committing myself to instead of just the one. She’d probably have been a little concerned at first, but would have come around when she saw how completely perfect we all are for each other.
I allowed Ruth to pick out whatever dress she wanted, as she’s officially maid of honor for the commitment ceremony. I knew I could trust her taste, and she’s dressed perfectly in a blush-mauve A-line gown, with a deep V-neckline. She looks beautiful, but I’m not worried about her turning my men’s heads.
I trust them implicitly.
Besides, Ruth hasn’t come alone. She’s brought the guy from the coffeeshop who she’d been flirting with for ages. Turns out, they’re an item now, and I couldn’t be happier for my best friend. He seems a little out of his depth, especially when he was met by Rafferty, Asher, Wilder, and Brody coming off the seaplane. I can’t say I blame him. They can be intimidating.
It took a little while to explain how our relationship worked to Ruth and her boyfriend, but once I had assured her that I was happier than I’d ever imagined possible, she said she was happy for me, too. I then had to field many, many questions about the...err...logistics of things. I got the impression she was maybe just a little jealous and possibly left wondering how her man might feel about sharing.
“You look beautiful,” Ruth tells me with a teary smile. “I can’t believe how beautiful. They’re going to all be blown away when they see you.”
I feel beautiful, too.
The bodice of my dress is decorated with intricate beading, and the tulle skirt is full length, falling to my feet. The dress is white, though I’m clearly not a virgin. I smile secretly to myself and place my palm against the swell of my bump. It’s visible beneath the dress, but it’s not like I’m trying to hide it. Everyone knows how pregnant I am, and besides, the guys love it. They can’t get enough of me like this and are forever fighting about who gets to feel the baby kick or who gets to lie on the sofa with their cheek pressed to my stomach. We haven’t found out if the baby is a boy or a girl yet. I think Asher and Rafferty would both like a little daughter they can protect and cherish, but Wilder and Brody would most likely want a son they can rough and tumble with.