Valentine’s Day Bonus Scene~Cole & Bri

First Valentine's DAy-2

Bri

I rush down the hall that leads to my apartment. My heels click against the outdoor tiles and I grab the wall, careful not to slip. I take a deep breath and release the tension. Chill, bri. Cole will be here any minute to pick me up and there’s no way I’ll be ready on time. Joke on me for trying to be early for once.

The keys rattle as I unlock the door. I’ll jump in the shower, curl my hair into waves, and wear the outfit I picked out last night. I can be ready in thirty minutes, I lie to myself when I check the time on my phone.

Dixie’s barking reminds me of my other responsibility. New plan, I let her out in the patio while I jump quickly in the shower.

I push through the door and straight for Dixie’s cage, stopping in my tracks. I tilt my head. Those flowers weren’t there this morning. I admire the red, velvety petals in the clear vase. I spy the small, white envelope leaning against it and grab it before opening the cage and letting Dixie out into the patio. Smiling, I tear open the envelope and pull out the card.

Babe, 

I used to think this was a silly holiday, but having you in my life I’ll take any excuse to be with you. These roses are just a preview at what I have planned for tonight. I love you, Bri. I’m a lucky bastard, and I’ll never take you and what we have for granted. I’m running outta space here, love, but know I could go on and on about how I feel. 

love, 

Cole

I sigh and smile, hugging the card to me. I never thought I’d be here. A lone tear slips down my cheek. These days my tears are happy tears, and Cole is to thank for that. Spotting Dixie by the door, I let her in and walk into my room, Dixie hot on my heels.

“What the…” I grip my chest, my heart racing at the speed of light.

A quiet chuckle greets me. “I didn’t mean to scare you.”

“Fuckin-A.” I breathe out. The chuckles get louder as the man I love walks toward me. I stare at his suit, top buttons of his dress shirt undone, and a smile that lights up the dark room.

“Hey, babe.” Cole wraps an arm around my waist and pulls me to him, his lips brushing mine. “Happy Valentine’s Day.”

“What are you doing here?” My arms find their way around his neck.

“I wanted to surprise you.”

I smirk. “Surprised I was. Thank you for the flowers.” I lean in and kiss him. Cole breaks away with a laugh.

“Looks like the other girl wants a little lovin’ too.” He bends down to pet Dixie, who is insistent on someone paying attention to her. After a few scratches behind her ear, she shuffles away, leaving Cole to myself again.

“You look handsome.” I run my hands over his shoulders and down the lapels of his suit.

“It’s all for you.” I stare into his blue eyes, immense love filling my heart. I’m so lucky. That thought weighs with meaning.

“I’ll be ready quickly.” I move to grab my things for the shower, but Cole pulls me close to him.

“No rush, babe. Dance with me first.”

“Don’t we have reservations at seven?”

“Don’t worry about that.” He holds a small remote before placing it back in his pocket. The opening of my song begins to play and my eyes crinkle with my smile.

“Let’s dance,” he repeats, wrapping an arm around my waist and holding my hand with his other one.

“Did you know this is my favorite song?” I look into his eyes.

“I’m glad it is. I mean every word as much today as the day I wrote it.” His lips touch mine.

“I love you, Cole Burkely.”

“Love you too, Bri.”

I move my arm tighter around the back of his neck, bringing him closer to me. Once upon not too long ago I never thought I’d find love again, but this stubborn and kind man didn’t give up on me. He granted me a second chance I never knew existed.

Swaying to the music, I listen as Cole’s soft voice sings into my ear.

We’ve got our lives to make this work 

And I’m counting on forever to give you the world

Gonna give you the world, girl

Your broken pieces make me whole

So let me be the one to show

How we fit together

With the final strum of a guitar, the song ends, but we continue to move together. Silence can’t break us apart in the darkened bedroom. My head on his should as the beating of his heart moves my body.

“I canceled our reservations,” Cole speaks.

“Why?” I look up at him.

“Change of plans. Trust me,” he winks.

“But you’re all dressed up.”

“I already told you the outfit is for your enjoyment.”

“You do look sexy,” I waggle my eyebrows.

Laughing, Cole slaps my behind. “Take a shower and get ready. I’ll feed Dixie.”

With a final kiss, Cole leaves my room so I can get ready. I choose to still wear the same red dress I had picked out last night and my heels.

“You look stunning.” Cole stands from my couch and looks at me. “Beautiful,” he whispers as he runs his fingers down my arm and clasps my hand. He lifts my arm to spin me around. “You’re all mine.”

“That I am. So you like the dress?” I look down at the off-the-shoulder, form-fitting dress.

“I love it, although you look beautiful in anything.”

“You say that ‘cause you love me.”

“I say that ‘cause it’s the truth. Ready?”

I nod and follow him, deciding to leave his surprise just that, a surprise.

I squint my eyes when we pull into his driveway. His smirk tells me he has something up his sleeve, but I’m not sure why we’re coming to his place.

“Trust me,” Cole leans to me and kisses my bare shoulder. “Too bad you’re going to have to cover yourself up with a coat.”

“I’ll take it off when we’re inside,” I wink.

Out of the car, I hold his hand and walk toward the front door only to be tugged by the arm.

“This way.”

What did he do? I furrow my eyebrows and smile.

As we walk in to the patio I see a ton of twinkling lights hanging over his deck.

“This is beautiful,” I gasp.

“I know how much you miss having a yard.”

“Thank you, babe.”

The closer we walk to the deck, the more I see of the space. White roses mixed with peonies are placed on the table in a square vase. The flickering flames of candles are spread throughout the railing and table.

“I know it’s cold, but I’m hoping the space heaters keep you warm. If not, I have no problem holding you all night and warming you up.”

“This is perfect.” I turn to look at him. “You can keep me warm.” His thoughtfulness knows no limits. My yard was my favorite thing of my old home, and the apartment doesn’t allow for that luxury, but this is spectacular.

“I ordered dinner. Are you sure you’re okay eating out here?”

“More than okay,” I smile.

“Great. Take a seat.” He holds my chair for me. And serves two glasses of red wine. “I’ll be right back with dinner.”

While Cole is inside, I inhale the breathtaking view. The scent of roses fills my nose as the flames dance in the evening breeze.

“Here you go.” Cole places a plate in front of me.

“Mmm… That smells delicious.” I look at the dish.

“Chicken Masala with mashed potatoes.”

“Yum.”

“You haven’t drank wine?”

“I was waiting for you.” I hold my glass up, Cole mimicking me. “To my best guy for this very special night and for all the special days.”

“Nah, tonight is all for you. You deserve it.”

I smile and sip the wine before we begin eating.

“I have a surprise for you.” Cole says as he comes back outside after clearing the table.

“Oh, a blanket.” I stand and allow him to wrap me in it. By the end of dinner, my legs were trembling but I refused to go inside. Cole takes a seat and pulls me onto his lap.

“This isn’t your surprise.” He holds a gift bag out to me.

“I thought we weren’t gifting anything,”

“We weren’t.”

“Cheater,” I quip.

He shrugs. “Open it.”

I peek into the bag, the lavender tissue paper covering my gift. Removing it, I see white cotton and curiosity spikes as I pull out the soft material and open it. I chuckle as soon as I realize what it is.

“That’s for you to wear at our next concert,” Cole winks. I look at the tee shirt that reads, I’m with the drummer.

“I love it,” I lean in and kiss him.

“There’s more.” Cole juts his chin toward the bag. I look inside the gift bag again and find a small box. I hold the soft, black velvet and open the lid to find a delicate gold necklace with a small music note.

“I love it, Cole.”

“I’m glad.” He squeezes my waist. “I wanted you to have something that made you think about me.”

I cup his cheek. “I always think about you. I don’t need a necklace to remind me who you are in my life. There is no doubt in my mind or heart that you are the man I love. I know our beginning wasn’t how you would have wanted, but I’m living each day to prove to you that you are the man I want in my life.”

Visions of Josh come to mind. I’ve learned to live without him while honoring his place in my heart. I’ve also learned to live in the present, with Cole. My daybreak.

“Everything about us was perfect. I never find the right words to tell you how lucky I feel, and how blessed I am to have you in my life. To be on the receiving end of your love. You’ve given me this,” he places his hand over my heart. “That’s the best gift I could’ve ever received.”

I cuddle into him and kiss his chest. “Who knows where I’d be right now without you.” I keep my chin on his chest and look into his eyes. “Thank you. Thank you for tonight and for being the man you are.”

Cole tightens his arms around me and hums with the twinkling lights and the warm blanket now covering the both of us. I inhale the man who loves me wholeheartedly and thank the stars above for bringing him into my life.

*Copyright 2018, Fabiola Francisco 

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Love You Through It is LIVE!

What  rollercoaster ride! Let me start by saying a huge thanks to all the bloggers who are participating in the release blitz, all the people who accepted an early copy of this book to review, and the readers who’ve sent me such loving and encouraging messages and share their excitement for this book with me, and patiently waiting for it to release.

you

Love You Through It was written in the summer and I waited to release it so I could give it the attention it deserves. Some days I wanted to hit publish on a random Wednesday because the wait was harder on me than you.

This story was born out of one of my biggest fears—losing the man you love. Call it a self-healing journey along with writing this emotional and powerful story. I almost didn’t finish it. I was 25,000 words in last spring and I left it alone, convinced this would be one of the many story ideas I’d shelf for years to come without an ending.

Until I saw a cover for it. I was writing another book at the time, and I bought a cover for Love You Through It, knowing that then I would have to finish it. I would have to push through  my own issues, put myself through an emotional ringer.

And I am so happy I did.

I didn't get the

 

Bri is strong, having experienced something tragic and dealt with it the best way she could. Cole is persistent and patient, offering the woman he’s cared about for years the support she needed. My biggest lesson writing this is that it is possible to open your heart again after you’ve lost the man you love.

What a lesson.

That took some time to sink in. However, I couldn’t think of a better man for Bri than Cole. Together they both find love and a second chance.

Grab your copy here: http://amzn.to/2Dq85GH

Learn more about the book

Enter the giveaway here

Cole is my daybreak after a constant sense that the sun would never shine again.

Authors, Use Your Superpowers

We all have days where we doubt ourselves, put ourselves through a self-inflicted ringer, crushing our dreams before we have a chance to wake up and attempt to fulfill them. It’s part of being a human, experiencing this life. We can choose to learn from it or drown in it. Some days it seems almost impossible to rise above it—our mind reminding us we’re not good enough. We are.

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I feel as writers we sometimes subject ourselves to this. Comparison kills joy. So what do we do when we’re constantly being compared to others as a part of our career?

Believe in yourself. Believe in your craft. Often times, when I doubt my words, when I doubt my story-telling ability, I remind myself why I started writing in the first place. Not publishing, writing. I began to save myself from myself, so there is no way something that saved my life will be able to bring me down. I’m a writer before anything else. Before I’m a published author. Even, before I’m a reader. Because writing was a tool I used when I didn’t give a shit about the rest. I won’t bore you with the details. You get the gist.

So how can something that helped me battle negativity be a negative in my life? It can’t. I just need to remind myself why I started. What’s my why. Flow with that why. Remind yourself about the passion you feel toward your craft and forget what others are doing. I come back to my core. To who I am as a person, as a soul, not as the public figure. I return “home” in a sense and write something that has nothing to do with my work in progress that brings me back. That reminds me about my writing purpose.

Who cares if someone is writing about such topic. Does that topic resonate with you? Yes? Great, write about it. No? Great, write the story you have in you.

It’s so easy to question plots, to judge our creativity, to shut down an idea because it’s not “popular.” There are readers for everything, thank goodness, and there are writers to write all kinds of stories, again, thank goodness. That’s the beauty of fiction—creativity is limitless. The unimaginable becomes imaginable through the magic of words.

Write what you know. Write what you don’t know. Hell, you want to use the word moist? Use it. Yes, some readers will cringe. Guess what, if your story resonates with them, they’ll overcome the use of that word.

Break the rules. Seriously, if you have an idea for a book and it doesn’t fit a mold, write it anyway. It’s easy to get stuck on trends, but if you force yourself to write what’s popular while it’s not your passion, this career will squeeze the life out of you. Though publishing is a business, writing is an art. Finding balance for both is key, but never compromise what’s in your heart.

 

*Spoiler alert: Not everyone will love all your books, so stop trying to please the outside world instead of yourself.

 

 

I thought I was done publishing, and then more words came

It’s hard to come from Twisted in You, which is a story I’ve waited years to tell (I think before I ever decided to write novels). I wasn’t sure what to write. I started on Bri’s story (Love You Through It), and it felt forced. Cash and Olivia were still too much in me to give Bri her own voice despite the VERY different tones in their books.

For me, Twisted in You was my ultimate goal. So I questioned if this was it. Is this where I close out my publishing life? Publishing this book was always my light at the end of the tunnel. That book is THE book for me. How can any other after it be justified?

I’ll be honest, it’s not the first time I question my publishing path. It’s hard out there, guys. I just want to share words. I want to create word art and express myself in a way that feels comfortable. Words are that for me. They always have been. Whatever shit I was dealing through, I’d write it. Death? Write a poem. Done. Anger? Write a letter to the person. Relief. Abuse? Put yourself in the perpetrator’s place. Compassion & understanding. Love? Write another poem. Acceptance that happy endings exist.

I won’t say writing was always a channel of expression for me, because it wasn’t. It took thirteen years to become aware of this gift. As a child I rejected reading and writing. (Joke’s on me, huh?) But damn, if it didn’t save my life multiple times. You all know how the story goes. 

Part of my life purpose is to help others heal. I’m aware of this, and it’s a path I’ve been working towards, finding my balanced footing on it. Writing is my way of doing that, whether it be fiction, blogging, or submitting articles to other sites. Because of this, I don’t know that I’ll ever fully be able to stop publishing. But, after Twisted in You was out in the world, I struggled with what to work on. What part of me was I ready to share next?

So I went back to where it all began—my teen years. One beta reader (who is a friend and knows me pretty well) sent me a text message the other day that said, “You are soooo Luna.” Yes, she sent that many O’s. And she was right. I am a Luna, because I am every character I write. I am the teen poet, using her words to express what she does not yet understand, or what she is not quite ready to share with the world verbally.

I went back to the girl who was shy, felt like an outcast with peers, and was so dead-set that there is more out there than the crap we deal with at times. I went back to my teen years because those were hard. And while I didn’t have a Carter, I had a brother like Becket and sometimes I took him for granted (He also slept with his basketball. AND I already dedicated a book to him, so we’re even, right?).

There was born Beneath the Stars. I’ve wanted to write a young adult for some time, and the story blossomed. There’s romance, mistakes (lots of them), confusion (even more so than mistakes), and hope. We have a girl who is trying to find her place in a space that she may not fit in. We have a boy whom she secretly crushes over finally pay her attention. We have a connection that bonds them and mistakes that tear them apart. We have a story of the confusion teen years bring, the struggles and monotony of them. So when I felt like I was done, I went back. I went to the beginning of my writing life and wrote who I was then. To a certain extent, obviously. I wish a cute basketball player was fighting for my attention back then (or now, because basketball players are cute!). 😉

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I am excited to share this story and the person Luna is. I include poetry in this book, so I was able to have my own creative expression, as well as novel writing. Poetry was my first love and helped heal so much of my past. I’m glad to be able to incorporate it into a story.

Read the synopsis here:

Quiet poet, observer, emotional teen. That’s me, Luna Gardner. When my lifelong crush, Carter, finally makes a move, it seems like I’m living out one of my poems. But like my writing, emotions are high and endings can be brutal.

One decision makes a mess out of everything. Being a teen isn’t supposed to be this complicated. No amount of poetry will fix the damage I’ve done. So, beneath the stars I get lost in the words and hope I can write a better outcome to my reality.

And add to Goodreads shelf!And add to Goodreads shelf!

Join Fabiola’s Fab Reads for EXCLUSIVE teasers and be the first to get all the 411.

I am so grateful for this gift, and never do I take it for granted. When one person sends  a message thanking me for a story that resonated with them, or for sharing something that is barely spoken about, my heart is full. My job is done. I want words to give people hope, heal the past, and know that HEA exists in all aspects of the word
because ultimately, when we are in love with ourselves, we are able to be in love with others and allow others to be in love with us. Romance has always been a part of history, and what a way to celebrate and share it. Words are healing, whether we are reading or writing them. SO again, thank you for allowing me to do this. ❤

XOXO

Fab

 

Reflection: Three years in this business~THANK YOU!

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Three years ago I published my first novel. In 2009, I wrote one of those Facebook Notes that were the craze back then—25 Random Facts About Me. The fifth fact was: I want to publish a book sometime in my life. I’ve told the story before—bucket list item I wanted to check off. However, it always seems unreachable. Two reasons why: 1. Up until that point, I had only written poetry and a few shorter stories. Dialogue and elaborating a plot were, in my mind, not my thing. 2. How was I going to get a publisher? All I wanted was to write a book to share and move on. It seemed impossible.

I was living in Spain during this time and shoved the idea to the back of my mind’s bookshelf, focusing on my work there and my college degree when I was back home.

Fast forward a few years, and I still had a story idea I began in 2009 running through my mind. Needless to say, I opened that file and began what is now PERFECTLY IMPERFECT with no idea how to publish.

It has been a unique journey these last three years, meeting new people (many I call friends now), learning the ever-changing ropes in this business (I am less business person, more creative), finding my voice in a world where many times we are encouraged to stay silent as to not stir society’s pot. My books are not liked by everyone, and I am perfectly okay with that. Writing is a part of my personal journey, a skill I use to express myself.

I never thought I would be okay with sharing my writing with anyone, let alone an entire audience. I’ll tell you one thing, publishing my first book is one of the most empowering things I’ve done. I went against my self-preservation tactic, against my comfort zone, ripped off my security blanket and shared pieces of myself to a world willing to know me. If that isn’t scary, I don’t know what is. I am a quiet observer in this community, in this world really, and turning the role of the observed on myself has been an interesting experience.

It has made me vulnerable, open, and accepting of myself. Writing novels, publishing them, has made me look at my reflection and learn more about who I am. When I write, I get into a sort of zone. Many times I don’t remember what I write. When I go back to re-read and prepare for edits, it’s as if I’m seeing myself for the first time. Every book is different; the mood is set according to my experiences and emotions at that moment in my life. I’ve always said writing is my form of therapy. It’s why I began in the first place—a safe way to express my emotions without the world judging me for feeling certain things.

So as I approach my third year of being a published author, I reflect on my experiences. I confess, more than once I have considered no longer publishing my work. I have two amazing friends to thank for staying in the game. It’s not always easy, especially for an introvert who bleeds onto pages to then be judged. I get it, it’s part of the package deal. The irony does not go unnoticed.

I’ve learned to not take things personally (read #15 in that FB note), and understand that people’s judgment of my work is their perception. Perception is everything in life. How we live and what we experience will influence our thoughts and emotions. If I can provoke emotion (positive or negative) through my writing, my job as a writer is complete. Reading is about feeling things, stirring things we have long buried within us, and travel to different places and be someone we may not dare explore in real life. I know when I read I want a book that stirs me. A book that leaves me feeling stagnant does nothing for my growth.

So although quitting this business has crossed my mind more times than I care to admit, you, my readers, keep me going. It’s your notes, messages, words of encouragement that remind me why I decided to share my words in the first place. This is a way for me to allow the world to know me, and for the opportunity and hope that you read my words and soak them up. I hope that you resonate with my writing in one way or another (for the good and bad), and can take a piece of it with you wherever you go.

Thank you for three of the best years of my life. For the opportunity to follow my passion and share it with you. Thank you for allowing me to be myself and share my voice when it can be so scary to do so. What turned into a fun challenge became so much more, and without any of you to share it with, this experience would have less meaning.

You can read two BONUS scenes for Perfectly Imperfect here: https://authorfabiolafrancisco.com/perfectly-imperfect/

Connect with me and join Fabiola’s Fab Reads to stay up-to-date with my writing, chat book and life stuff, and hang out with the best group of people: https://www.facebook.com/groups/FabReads/

XOXO,

Fab

 

 

A Glimpse into the Future~ Restoring Us

I am surprised how quickly time has gone by. It will be two years that I published Restoring Us, my second novel, on January 11th. This was the first idea I had for a book back in 2009, and I feel blessed that I got the opportunity to write it and publish it a few years later.

Thank you to all who have supported me along the way. I am so happy to have met so many amazing people, and I am looking forward to meeting more and more of you.

Enjoy this bonus scene! XO

**This scene includes some spoilers for those who have not read Restoring Us.**


A Glimpse into the Future

Ava

“I resent that!” Dan yells. “I’m a fucking good father.”

“Facking,” Brooke, Dan and Jess’ youngest daughter, says. Yes, youngest. That means Dan’s a father to more than one child.

“Case in point,” Ethan points to her, and we all laugh.

“You’re just jealous.” Dan shrugs.

“My daughter doesn’t curse.” Ethan raises his eyebrows.

“You know, before fatherhood, you used to be cool. Now, you’re all serious and shit.”

“PMS?” Ethan mocks.

“Fuck off.” Dan stands and walks to the cooler housing the beers and bottles of wine.

I look around our patio and smile as I see our friends still united after so many years. We have been through ups and downs together, and these last two years have been interesting to say the least.

Actually, the last seven have been.

I watch Jess tell Stella, her oldest, to be careful with Arabella. I smile as Stella holds Arabella’s hand, and they walk towards the swing set.

Turns out that Jess was pregnant during our wedding, and both her and Dan kept it a secret until Dan got too drunk one day and spilled. Jess would have killed him, but we were ecstatic for them. Therefore, Dan has been a father for seven years. They were the first in our circle to have children. Now, they have two girls. I’m pretty sure it’s karma’s way of getting even with him.

I catch Ethan’s eye as I stare off at our daughter’s backside, and he winks. I give him a crooked smile and sip my wine.

It has been two years since Arabella entered our lives. Two years since we became parents and figured out how to balance life and a child. We’re still trying to figure it out. But no matter how insane the process of adoption could be, it was worth it to have my baby girl in my arms.

As difficult as our road to get here was, I don’t resent it. It’s perfect in how it was supposed to be. It took me some time to understand that, but I finally did. Ethan and I have grown together, and our love has matured.

“Ava.” I look up and smile at Stacy. “Where did you buy Arabella’s bow?”

“A small boutique not far from the gallery. It’s adorable, right?”

“Yes! I want one!”

“Umm… Relax. We don’t know yet if it’s a boy or girl,” Aiden tells Stacy. I chuckle as Stacy rubs her small bump. Aiden and Stacy got married two years after Ethan and I in a gorgeous, chic wedding in the gardens at the Lincoln Park Zoo.

“I think it’s a girl.” She raises an eyebrow, and I have never seen my brother back down from a comment so easily.

“They’re moody when they’re pregnant, right?” Ethan tells him.

“Fuck. Oh shit! Damnit.” Aiden rolls his eyes. “How the hell am I supposed to not curse around children? Or have sex,” he adds the last part quietly. Stacy smacks him in the stomach.

“Hit me all you want, I’m not sorry.” Aiden leans forward, his elbows on his thighs. “Tell me a newborn doesn’t fuck with your sex schedule.”

“Schedule?” Ethan asks with raised eyebrows.

“Yeah, like when you can have sex.”

“Aiden, sex isn’t some therapist’s office you schedule into your week,” says Ethan.

“But the crying and feeding and wake-up calls in the middle of the night.” I try not to laugh at my brother’s panic.

“Sex while they sleep. You’ll be exhausted but satisfied.”

“Ah, I knew I could count on you, Katie,” Aiden states.

Katie laughs as she rocks Caleb in her arms.

“She knows what she’s talking about,” Tristan says next to her, smiling smugly.

“This kid wasn’t going to mess up with my sex life.”

“Ah, so glad you love that child,” I joke.

“I do. Seriously. This kid is my world, but a girl has needs.” We all laugh as she shrugs.

“Yes, she does,” Tristan says next to her, kissing her temple.

I was so excited when those two finally admitted they wanted more out of their relationship. Katie had Caleb a few months ago (unplanned). And no one hates a surprise pregnancy more than she does.

After a few years of dating, Katie got pregnant with Caleb. I’m pretty sure he will be her only child. Mostly because she said she’d get her tubes tied after that delivery. Twenty hours of labor will do that to a girl. He really is the most adorable baby, and the only boy in our circle of friends. At least until we know what Stacy is having.

“Just keep that boy away from my babies,” Dan tells Katie. She laughs loudly.

“Aw, are you scared he’ll try to make a move on them? Karma.” She raises an eyebrow.

“My girls. Not for your kid to take advantage of.”

“Dan, he’s like five months old,” Katie widens her eyes.

“Yeah, but he’ll grow up.”

I try not to laugh at Dan’s overprotection. Ever since he had a girl, he has been a mess. From not knowing how to comb their hair to mismatching tops with bottoms. It has been so much fun to watch.

“You need to stop freaking out,” Ethan tells him.

“Look at them.” Dan points to his girls. “They’re so small and innocent.”

“They all are,” I nod, smiling. “They have each other though. They’ll be okay.”

You don’t realize how precious—and fragile— a child is until it is your own. You want to protect them from the bad in the world, but you know you can’t, so you give them tools that will help them. When I see our children, I see a mirror of all of us. Innocent and naïve, yet I know life can throw curveballs. If we teach them anything, it will be how to swing without striking out.

I sigh in contentment as I lean back in my chair. I love when we all get together like this and hang out. Our friendships  strengthen through the years.

After a few more hours, everyone leaves our home with grumpy kids and slightly buzzed husbands. Ethan walks down into the kitchen after putting Arabella down for bed as I finish cleaning up the patio and bringing the glassware inside.

“Do you need help?” He hugs me from behind and kisses the back of my neck.

I close my eyes, and my skin prickles with goosebumps.

“I’ll finish up tomorrow.” I dry my hands with the dishtowel.

“Did you have fun tonight?”

I turn in Ethan’s arms and smile up at him. “Yes. I love that we continue to get together and that our kids are growing up with our example of friendship.”

“Me too.” Ethan lowers his head and kisses below my ear. Then, his lips touch mine. “I’m glad they’re gone though.”

I lean back and smile up at him. “Oh, yeah?”

“Yup. I’ve been wanting to do this all night.” He pulls me tighter, his arm around my waist as the other hand cups my face, and he kisses me deeply.

I welcome the kiss, sighing into it.

“So no seven year itch?” I ask, teasing him, when we pull away from each other.

“Never. Infinity, remember?” He gently runs a finger over my infinity necklace.

My arms tighten around his neck, and I tug at the loose ends of his hair. “I remember. So… You’re going to show me how much you still love me?”

Wordlessly, he picks me up over his shoulder and rushes up the stairs. I laugh loudly.

“All night long, baby,” he says. “I’ll never get enough.” He stares into my eyes after lowering me back down his body.

“I love you,” I whisper, cupping his face.

“Love you, too.”


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Happy New Year!

As we enter a new year, I want to take a moment to thank you all for your friendship and support. I wish you so many wonderful things for 2017, and I hope you take the lessons from the past with you to grow and learn. Each year we end a chapter and prepare for a new one. May this new chapter be filled with love and abundance, gratitude and many more wonderful experiences to add to your memories!

Enjoy your New Year, be safe, and love hard. Romance isn’t just in books, and I hope your life is full of amazing, romantic moments! ❤

I know that 2017 will bring us a lot of wonderful gifts! Here’s to many more days with you all in my life! XOXO

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