“Give that baby to me right now.” Ella stood in front of Brody and gave him the look. “You’ve had him the last half hour. I was nice because it’s your wedding day and all, but now it’s my turn.” She held her hands out, and with a disgruntled sigh, he kissed the top of Alexander’s downy head and handed him over.
In the end, even after all the health-inspired madness Erin had suffered, Alexander had come easily and quietly a week after Erin had been discharged from the hospital the last time. Six weeks old already and he was big, healthy and adored by everyone in his life. Not a bad way to live..
“Five minutes. Not thirty, drama queen.” Brody winked at her.
Alexander snuggled into her immediately and made a soft cooing sound. “Look at you. Already the handsomest boy in the whole wide world. Your mommy is looking for you. I think your dinner is ready.”
He put a tiny fist into his mouth, sucking on it. “Yeah, I gotcha. We’re moving.”
Cope came around the corner, holding two glasses. “Hey, Red. I’ve been looking for you. Thought a glass of champagne would be a lovely way to end a great day.”
“Thank you.” She smiled at him, and they both looked down at Alexander again. “Hang on a sec. Alexander is hungry, and I need to get him to Erin.”
“I’ll come with you. Seeing you with him makes me simultaneously hot for you and tender about our future.”
“There you are!” Erin called out from her place on a comfortable couch. Alexander heard his mother’s voice and began to fuss until Ella handed him over. He turned immediately and latched on.
Erin settled back with her feet up, and Ben handed her the blanket she used to keep Alexander focused on eating and not looking around the room at all the people who wanted to give him love.
“Thanks for tracking Brody down. Man gets his mitts on my baby, and it’s hell to get him back.”
“Well, you’re stingy with him. Sheesh, I got to hold him for all of two minutes before he threw me over for you and those giant boobs of yours.”
Todd laughed. “Ella, I love you and all, but when it comes to a choice between food and boobs and a nice lady who snuggles you, you have to know the former will always win.”
“Ella and I snuck away and got married last weekend,” Andrew blurted.
“What?” Erin turned her gaze on Ella, who was just as surprised that he’d spilled the beans as Erin was. She shouldn’t be surprised. He was like a kid at Christmas sometimes when it came to secrets.
“We were going to get married in the fall. You know, when we’d fully finished the house and all. But we were all in Vegas last week for pre-wedding stuff, so we snuck out and did it. Actually, I got her tipsy and convinced her we should do it. Hey, I’m not proud!”
“Pffft. I love you and I wanted to marry you. We didn’t want to say anything just yet because we didn’t want to take the focus off Brody and Elise.” Ella sent him a raised brow but he just laughed, unrepentant.
“Didn’t want to take the focus off us for what?” Brody came in, Elise at his side wearing a red wedding dress, her hair styled in cascading curls with crystals tucked inside. She looked breathtakingly beautiful. But it was the love between them that made Ella choke up a bit.
Erin piped up. “Ella and Cope got married last week when we were all in Vegas.”
“What the heck! You didn’t tell me?” Elise hugged her. “Girl, I’m gonna kick your butt.”
“It’s your wedding day. You deserve every last bit of attention. It would have kept until next week.”
“We want to try to get pregnant, and what better time to get married than when you’re in Vegas.”
She spun, ready to pinch him, but he danced out of her reach. “Oh my god! Andrew Copeland! You promised to hold off.”
Moving to her, he kissed her hard. “You’re my wife. The wedding is over, and we’re in private with my brother and our friends. What better time to share? Anyway, now when we have our kiddo, he or she will know there wasn’t a shotgun wedding or anything.”
The man was absolutely incorrigible, but he was all hers, which was the very best part of every day. Her parents had been over the moon, though they’d been disappointed to have not been there, so they promised to throw a big party in a few months to announce it. Annalee had been likewise thrilled, and she had called Moira immediately to start planning the party.
“I just wanted to be his wife.” She smiled at Elise, who grinned and then kissed Ella smack on the lips.
“We’re pregnant. We told Rennie yesterday, and she gave us permission to tell you guys today.”
“Holy cow!” There was much hugging and kissing, much commiserating and talking of dates.
“How awesome is this? Look at all this happily ever after.” Adrian spoke from where he’d been perched on a couch arm.
Cope pulled her into his embrace, swaying to a tune only they could hear.
“I love you so much it’s not funny,” he murmured for her ears only. “Can’t wait to get you home to show you.”
He showed her every moment of every day, and she never quite got over the wonder of that. The beautiful normalcy of being loved so very fiercely by this man who wrote her poetry and brought her breakfast in bed after he’d kept her up all night making love.
“I do have a present for you now, though.”
She let go, clapping her hands excitedly. “You’re finally going to let me see?” Brody had given him a tattoo on his arm that Cope had been totally secretive about.
He’d kept it covered when she was around all during the time it had been healing.
Rolling up his shirtsleeve, she read the words scrolling down his right arm.
In your eyes of mourning, the land of dreams begin
“Oh.” Tears welled up. It was her favorite line from Neruda’s “In My Sky at Twilight.”
“That’s a good oh?”
She nodded, bending down to kiss his forearm. “It’s beautiful. Thank you.”
“You’re my everything, Ella. Inside and out, the most beautiful creature to ever be. I adore you.”
Life was very, very good.
In this book, Ella makes her own special “Cope Playlist” and sends it to him in her own version of a mixtape.
“Head First”—The Babys
“Still Remains”—Stone Temple Pilots
“Lost Without U”—Robin Thicke
“The Wait”—The Pretenders
“When It Don’t Come Easy”—Patty Griffin
“Manhattan”—Kings of Leon
“Caligulove”—Them Crooked Vultures
“The First Taste”—Fiona Apple
“Ain’t Nobody”—Chaka Khan
“No One’s Gonna Love You”—Band of Horses
“Little Plastic Castle”—Ani DiFranco
“Fix You Up”—Tegan and Sara