Just With You

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EPILOGUE 2

“Change Your Name” by Brett Young starts playing, and I’m locked in Jace’s arms as we sway to our first dance. I rest my head on his shoulder, and he runs his hand up and down my back as we dance, my thoughts going back to that night a couple weeks ago when he told me he had a song for me to listen to.

I was determined to find our first song and for it to not be country, because you know, my soon-to-be husband hates country. When I heard this song, he spun me around in the kitchen and I danced to it on tiptoes with him, his cheek pressed to mine. I knew it was ours.

Jace moves us so he can kiss me, and even though we’re in the center of the dance floor, everyone we love around us, it’s like we’re in our own world. His forehead drops to mine, and I close my eyes, winding my left arm around his neck. Running his left hand up to hold mine, he turns his head to kiss my fingers and then slips his arm back around my waist.

“Mrs. Miller, I couldn’t possibly be any more in love with you than I am right now,” Jace whispers to me, and I smile, tears burning my eyes.

“I love you too. And in case I didn’t tell you, you’re looking mighty handsome, husband.”

“Mmm, say that again, baby.”

“You look—”

“No,” Jace cuts me off, his eyes locked on mine. “The other part.”

I grin at him. “Husband.”

“That’s the one.”

Throwing my head back, I laugh, Jace’s arms tightening around my waist. He laughs too, and when the music changes only moments later, he shakes his head at me, knowing I completely got him. “Love Shack” is blaring through the speakers, and he throws our arms up in the air as the dance floor begins to fill with people, the party getting started.

Years from now, when I think back on this day, it won’t be the stress or nerves I remember. It won’t be when I shoved the cake in Jace’s face, or when he gave me a big kiss that smeared frosting all over my own face. It won’t be him dancing with our girls, twirling them around the dance floor as the sun went down, the white lights twinkling above them.

I’ll think about how it was the day I married the love of my life.

The father of my children.

My best friend.

JACE

One and a half years later

Today is my sweet babies’ second birthday. Time flies, and that’s the truth. Each day passes faster than the one before, and it’s hard to believe they’re already two. Emily and Grace are the spitting image of their beautiful mother, with my blue eyes.

“Jace, can you bring the candles, babe?” Stella yells to me from the dining room, where our family has gathered to celebrate the girls’ birthday. Finding the package of pink and yellow candles, I pick them up and bring them to my wife. She takes them with a smile, and I give her a kiss. She’s recently cut her long hair to just above her shoulders, and she looks stunning.

Emily and Grace are sitting in their big girl seats at the table, Jules playing Patty Cake with them while we wait to sing happy birthday. Stella put their brown hair into little pigtails, and they’re in matching purple dresses.

They’re my greatest accomplishment. I’m ready for another baby, and I think Stella is too, but we haven’t talked much about it.

“Are my girls ready?” Stella asks, both girls clapping their hands.

“Mama, take!”

Lighting the candles, she moves the unicorn cake in between them, and we all start singing. The girls smile wide, and when it’s time to blow out the candles, both Stell and I kneel to help them. Everyone claps, and my mom offers to cut the cake up. Stella maneuvers around the table to come over to me, wrapping her arm around my waist as I pull her against me.

“You did good, baby. The party is beautiful.”

“Thanks.”

She leans her head on my shoulder, and I look around the room, filled with the most important people in our lives. Drew is having a beer, laughing at something Brody said to him. Garret is holding Hadley on his shoulders, her long brown hair covering his face, and Linds and Sadie are in deep conversation with Gen. Ever since that day at lunch, we’ve seen a lot more of our cousin, everything back to normal with her. She’s dating a businessman from her town, and I notice her baby bump has finally started to pop. She broke the news about a month ago, and we’re all thrilled for her. Although nobody more than Aunt May and Uncle Eddie.

Eli is leaning against the wall with Ashley tucked against his side, her brand-new engagement ring sparkling across the room. They just got engaged a couple months ago, and Stella has been helping her plan the wedding.

My dad is opening the packages of plates, his hair a little grayer these days. Mason is helping my mom cut the birthday cake, Jules waiting patiently for a piece. She has blossomed into a beautiful young teenager, and she gives her daddy hell every single day. Stella says its karma for what a pain in the ass he was when they were kids.

Stella is just happy that he’s finally started seeing somebody. He won’t tell us much, but Mason is a changed man. I’m damn happy for him too.

“Uncle Jace, do Em and Gracie want corner pieces?” Jules yells to me, and I laugh.

“Sweetheart, they’re two. I don’t think they’ll care.”

“Okay!”

Carefully, she carries two small pieces of cake to my girls, and they both dig in, their faces smeared in pink and purple frosting.

“They’re gonna be permanently stained, Stell,” I groan.

She just slaps my arm. “Stop, it’s their birthday. It’s just a little cake.”

“I know, I know,” I huff, and she chuckles.

“You’re such a good daddy,” she whispers.

I beam at her words. Every day I do my damn hardest to be the best I can.

“Well, they have an amazing mommy who teaches me how.”

“They’re getting so big,” she says, watching the girls with a smile on her face, eyes filled with pride.

“I know. Wasn’t it just yesterday we were going to the hospital?”

“Sure feels like it.”

“I guess you’re just gonna have to give me another baby, huh, Stell?” I joke, and she laughs.

“Well, if you can wait about seven months, then sure.”

“Seven months….” My eyebrows shoot up at her words. “Are you…?”

“I’m eight weeks. Went to the doctor last week, and they confirmed it.”

“Are you kidding me?” I breathe, my heart pounding in my chest.

She smiles widely. “Nope. Congratulations, you’re gonna be a daddy again.”

Cupping her face, I devour her mouth with mine, unconcerned with our family watching the display. Pulling away, I watch a single tear run down her cheek, and I wipe it away softly with the pad of my thumb.

“I love you,” I say, giving her another kiss.

“I love you too.”

Pretending like she didn’t just throw the best news in the world at me, we go back to the party. Drew kneels in front of Gracie to give her a kiss, but she shoves a chubby handful of half-chewed cake in his face, squealing with laughter.

“Thanks, sweet girl. Uncle Drew was dying to try your cake,” he jokes, and Stella hands him a napkin. Wiping the mess off his face, he reaches down to rub his hand over her head.

“Just like her dad, giving me shit all the time,” he tells me.

“That’s my girl!” I smirk.

Stella gets the girls cleaned up, and then I lift Emily into my arms. She hugs my neck and gives me a wet kiss. “Thanks, baby. Do you girls want to open presents?”

They’re only two, so they’re all for anything new and exciting, but ten minutes later when they start digging through their gifts, their excitement ramps up exponentially.

I look down at Stella. “They’re gonna sleep good tonight.”

“Let’s hope so.” She crosses her fingers with a laugh, dropping to her knees to help Gracie with opening the next gift she grabs.

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