It was the year to the day that I arrived that Nick proposed to me on the beach near our home, with Carmen and Cocoa a few feet away from us. I was divorced and happier than I’d ever been and I dropped to the sand to hug him as I screamed that I would marry him. By this time, Rebecca, and Ryan, the hockey player were living together and headed in the same direction. I adored them together and knew that Nick did too, even when he teased his sister.
We planned the wedding for the upcoming Fall in a beautiful chapel that offered a gorgeous view of the ocean and would protect us from any inclement weather if necessary. Carmen was going to be the flower girl while Rebecca would stand in for me, and Nick selected one of the guys that he worked closely with and respected deeply. We also started talking about my stopping all birth control so we could try for a baby or two in the next year. Nick loved to joke that he was getting older and I just wanted to expand the family.
I knew that Sean was a father now and I was happy for him. I wished him well and knew that I found the man I was supposed to be in a place that I was probably never meant to leave in the first place. I didn’t look back with any regret, though. I had Carmen because of the delay.
I kept the wedding small and intimate, only inviting close friends and our little family to watch as we exchanged our vows. My dress was cream colored and hung over my curves in a straight line, with sweet cap sleeves and a sweetheart neckline. It dragged behind me in a silky train, and Nick looked like he wanted to eat me alive as I walked towards him. He was equally edible in a tuxedo, and his tousled hair arranged messily on his head as I stared into his beautiful eyes.
He spoke to me in a hushed voice as his written words moved through my heart and soul, making the tears slide down my cheeks as my mother cried in the front row. I had some of my own, telling Nick that he was everything that I ever wanted in a partner before we kissed for the first time as husband and wife.
I wore the wedding set that Mom had gotten at her own wedding, cleaned, and sparkling on my left hand. We left the chapel to go to a nearby restaurant that was closed for our party, dancing the night away in between a delicious meal and a lot of drinks. The people in town were initially surprised by Nick and I being together, but they all loved Carmen and wanted her happy. She looked beautiful today in a sage green dress with a constant smile on her face as she moved from person to person to talk to them. Her teachers had seen an impressive jump in her grades in the last year and Nick and I encouraged her growth.
The days were busy with a dog and a daughter and a house to take care of, but I had an incredible chef and maid to help me. Once the new year started, Nick told me that he knew I wasn’t a nanny anymore. We were a family.
I announced my first pregnancy with Nick three months after the wedding and gave birth to a son six months later. Cameron got a sister a year and a half later named Alyssa, and we were a big and busy family by that time.
Rebecca got married shortly after us, staying in Chicago to raise her twin boy and girl that were just a bit younger than Cam. Ryan played there though there was always the possibility of a trade. She didn’t work for the paper any longer, choosing instead to write as a freelancer and raise Nolan and Nellie. They often visited, though, and Mom loved to be with all the kids at once. Holidays were loud but amazingly fun with the two dogs that we now had as well as a lot of little legs running down the beach.
Every once in a while, when it was quiet, Nick and I would make love and just rest together in the silence that followed. He still traveled for work though a bit less with the three kids, and I enjoyed the time that we got together. We went on regular dates while Mom came to watch the kids and started watching Carmen flirt with boys all too soon, which was about the time that Nick’s hair began to go gray.
Still, he powered through it, and I assured him at night when we were alone that she had a fantastic role model for a father. The real dad never came forward, not wanting to be a part of her life and that was fine with us. We loved her more than anything else in the world along with our other kids. We loved our small, close family and our life.
Nick retired when he was fifty-five, handing the control to someone else in the company to stay home with us. He was financially set and still energetic and fit, making me still go down to work out with him before we rushed to the bedroom.
Mom passed away when Alyssa was twelve, and we all grieved the loss as she was buried beside my father. She was one of the people that I was closest to as well as Carmen since Mom was so local to her. Carmen grew up with her, and as an eighteen-year-old, she still sobbed when I told her that Mom finally succumbed to cancer. It had been a yearlong fight for her, hard for all of us to see.
I knew that she lived in my heart and the souls of my kids, something I saw every day. It helped that Ryan came to play in the bay area around that time before retiring, bringing Rebecca close to all of us. I sometimes thought that life worked out a certain way sometimes, with events occurring as needed.
I watched the kids grow up, enjoying every moment of their lives as well as my own. I was blessed having Nick as a husband, and we had so much fun showing the kids the world along with different cultures. Along the way, we bought a few vacation homes in some of our favorite places, such as the mountains as well as Belize.
Seeing Carmen become a mom at twenty-three with her loving husband Liam felt like life coming full circle to me, making Nick and I cry as we watched her cuddle her daughter. I felt like I did everything right and looked forward to stepping into a new role as a grandma, much like my own mom did when life called for that.
Fate has a plan for all of us, and you just need to let it happen. It was worth it in the end.
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