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Epilogue

November

“Alicia!” Luke hissed. “Calm yourself. We are in public.”

“I can’t Luke! I’m just so excited! And we’ve been waiting for so long!” She smoothed down her evening gown as she sat down in the cold, hard chair next to her brother. “I mean I know these things can take a long time, especially since it’s her first time but still!”

“Is Angela here yet?”

Alicia shook her head. “Angela, Lizzie, Isabella, and Marisol landed at JFK about twenty minutes ago so they should be here soon. Isabella is furious. Apparently, Gabi and Ryan promised that they would be back in Houston by now.”

Luke frowned. “They knew they wouldn’t. They’re here in New York until at least this time next year. Gabi’s running the internship program.”

“I know,” Alicia said with a laugh. “But it was the only thing they could say to keep Isabella from coming to live with them. Gabi was insistent that her mother’s presence would just stress her out.”

“Oh. That makes sense I guess.”

They were quiet for a few minutes before Alicia groaned in frustration and rose to pace again, causing Luke to roll his eyes.

“Alicia maybe you should go home and change. It could still be a while and you’re still wearing your dress from last night.”

“I’m fine!” she snapped. “I don’t want to miss anything--”

A nurse came running out into waiting room. “Alicia Cole?”

“That’s me!” Alicia ran over to the woman. “Is Gabi okay?”

“She’s as fine as one can be after thirteen hours of labor,” the nurse said with a laugh.

Alicia’s glare indicated that she was not amused.

“Right. Well, Miss Perez would like to know if her mother has arrived yet. And if not, she wants you to come into the delivery room.”

“Her mother’s not here quite yet so I’m coming with you.” Alicia glanced back at Luke as she followed the nurse. “Tell Isabella to come back when they get here.”

Alicia walked into the delivery room with the nurse and had to fight to keep from laughing. Her brother, who was normally calm, cool and collected, had a panicked expression on his face as he held Gabi’s hand. She was squeezing his hand so tightly, it was almost white.

Gabi was shouting at Ryan in Spanish, her tone indicating to Alicia that she was probably swearing at him.

“You called for me?” Alicia said, walking over to the side of Gabi’s bed.

“Ay coño Alicia! Estoy--”

“English Gabi,” Alicia laughed, taking Gabi's free hand.

Gabi’s gaze shifted to Ryan. “I don’t have enough words in English to describe the pain that your brother has inflicted upon me.”

She gasped as another contraction came.

“Baby I’m so sorry you’re in pain,” Ryan said wiping her forehead with a wet cloth. “But you’re cutting off the circulation in my hand--”

He stopped talking when he saw both his sister and his girlfriend glaring at him. Twenty more minutes of contractions and pushing later, Isabella burst into the room followed by Marisol and Angela.

“Mija! I’m here!”

“Oh thank God!” Ryan exclaimed as Isabella took Alicia’s place next to Gabi’s bed.

“Excuse me but only the father and one other person can be in here!” One of the nurses exclaimed.

“I want them all here!” Gabi cried out. “Ryan!”

“If there’s some way you could make an exception we would be very grateful,” Ryan grated out as Gabi squeezed his hand even tighter.

“I’m sorry sir--”

“Listen here,” Alicia said, pointing her finger in the nurse’s face. “My family donates hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to this hospital. So if my brother’s girlfriend wants extra people in the room while she delivers you’re just going to have to be okay with it.”

“Leave it alone,” the doctor said to the nurse. “We have more important matters to attend to. Everyone can stay as long as you’re not in the way.”

Marisol, Alicia, and Angela backed into a far corner quietly and the doctor returned his attention to Gabi.

“Alright Gabi, I really need you to push hard; You’re almost there, okay?”

“I don’t think I can do it,” Gabi replied tiredly.

“You’re doing great baby,” Ryan said encouragingly. “It’s almost over. And then we’ll have our precious little one.”

“Okay. I’ll try.” She tried to sit up some more and the cycle began again.

Just when Gabi thought she couldn’t push anymore, she heard the doctor’s voice. “One more big one! Come on Gabi.”

Gabi gave everything she had left and collapsed back on the bed. For a brief moment, it was completely silent, and then the baby’s cries filled the room.

“You did it, mija,” Isabella said, pressing a kiss to Gabi’s cheek with tears in her eyes. She stepped out of the way so the nurse could hand the baby to Gabi.

“It’s a girl,” the nurse said with a smile as Gabi and Ryan stared at the baby with tears in their eyes.

Her little pink face was scrunched up as she continued to cry.

“Oh my God Ryan,” Gabi whispered. “I love her so much!”

“She’s so beautiful,” he added, kissing Gabi’s forehead. “Just like her mommy.”

The nurse came back and took the baby so they could run some tests and get her cleaned up.

“What are you going to name her?” Alicia asked excitedly from the corner.

“I don’t know yet,” Gabi replied with a yawn. “I’m not so sure that the name we had picked out really fits her.”

“Why don’t we give them some alone time?” Angela suggested quietly before practically dragging Isabella, Marisol, and Alicia from the room. “Congratulations guys!”

The nurse placed the baby in Ryan’s arms and then it was just the three of them.

“How did we get here?” Gabi mused, gazing lovingly at her daughter and boyfriend.

“You insisted that we go to my father’s wedding despite the fact that you were having contractions and then your water broke during their first dance,” he replied casually.

“Ha, ha, ha,” Gabi said dryly. “That’s not what I meant.”

“I know.” He smiled down at her. “I just like teasing you.”

“What should we name her?”

“You already know what I want to name her Gabriella.”

“We’re not naming our daughter Houston, Ryan.”

“Why not? It’s where we met. I think it’s cute.”

“No. Just no.”

“Fine,” he grumbled. “What were you thinking?”

“Graciela?”

“No. I won’t be able to say it pretty like you do,” he laughed.

“Why is this so difficult?” Gabi said, reaching for their baby girl. Ryan placed her in Gabi’s arms and she gurgled contently, settling deeper into sleep. “Eres tan bella, mi princesa,” she whispered, kissing the top of the baby’s head.

“I’ve got it,” Ryan said excitedly. “I can’t believe I didn’t think of it before!”


“Okay, you guys have to be quiet; The baby is asleep and Gabriella is exhausted.”

It was three days later, they were finally settled in their New York apartment and Gabi had decided that she was ready to receive company.

Alicia, Isabella, Marisol, and Angela all fought to get inside first.

Ryan rolled his eyes. “Seriously?”

“I am the abuela; I should be allowed in first.”

“In that case,” Jack said from somewhere in the hallway. “I should be allowed in second since I am the abuelo.” He and his new wife had postponed their honeymoon to be with the family during this exciting time.

Isabella smiled and pushed past everyone with Jack and Camila right behind her.

“You guys don’t even know where you’re going,” Ryan said with a groan as the rest of the family filed past him.

Lizzie patted him on the shoulder. “You might as well give up the idea that this is going to be a peaceful visit. There are eight children here, you realize that right?” she said gesturing to Marisol’s kids, Nico and Angela’s son and Alicia’s son.

Ryan closed the front door, shaking his head. They got all of the kids set up in front of the massive television in the living room and then Ryan led the adults to the second floor where the nursery was. He pushed open the door at the end of the hallway and ushered them inside. The large group of relatives was impressively quiet as they inched closer to the bassinet on the far side of the room. Gabi was asleep in the rocking chair with her hand resting on the bassinet. She jolted awake when Alicia’s phone vibrated.

“Sorry!” Alicia whispered, switching off her phone.

“Oh, hey guys,” Gabi said tiredly. “Are you here to say hello to our little princess?”

“Yes! And finally, find out her name,” Marisol said, rolling her eyes. “You’ve been so tight-lipped about it.”

Gabi smiled. “We wanted to tell you all at the same time.”

Ryan lifted the baby from the bassinet. “Family, meet Bella Houston Cole. Bella, this is your family.”

“Bella?” Alicia asked as tears rolled down her face. “You mean like--”

Ryan nodded with a smile as he placed Bella in Jack’s arms. “Yeah. After our mother, Mirabella and Gabriella’s mother, Isabella.”

Isabella gasped and embraced Gabi and Ryan. “You two are the sweetest! I love it.”

“What a beautiful way to honor your mother, son,” Jack said, relinquishing his hold on Bella so Isabella could hold her.

The family only visited for about an hour before they left, knowing that the new parents were probably exhausted.

Ryan returned to the nursery after letting everyone out and found Gabi standing by the window, nursing little Bella. He stepped behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist.

“She’s so perfect,” Gabi said, stroking her baby’s cheek gently.

“That she is,” Ryan agreed.

“It’s crazy to think that this time last year, you and I were barely friends and now we have a daughter together.”

Ryan chuckled. “You’re right; It is absolutely crazy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”


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