Coming Alive Bonus Epilogue
Avery makes her last stop at a party store on the outskirts of Asheville. The SUV her husband so lovingly bestowed upon her for their twentieth wedding anniversary last year eased into a parking spot next to her best friend, Nikki’s car. The petite blonde is rocking back and forth in her car singing whatever popular song was blaring on the stereo.
Exiting the vehicle, Avery knocks on Nikki’s window, chuckling when her friend screams in fright. Suppressing her laugh, Avery mouths the word sorry and steps back.
“Scared me to death,” Nikki said while rolling her eyes.
“Does my brother know that you’re here?” Avery asks as the two women link arms and head into the shop.
“Nope, he thinks I’m mailing packages of my latest book. He doesn’t suspect a thing. No one does.”
That was good, Avery thinks to herself. She’s been planning her parent’s fiftieth wedding anniversary party for the last year, and as far as Avery knew, she has been able to keep it all under wraps. This is saying something because her home office is scattered with supplies and her kids have the biggest mouths. They tend to spoil holidays and celebrations for everyone.
Despite that, she loves her four kids fiercely. She’d always wanted a big family, and until she met her husband, she never thought it would be possible.
“Well, I won’t keep you long. I need to meet Logan at the Angie’s to help set up the space for dinner.”
Together they walk into the store and are greeted by a young man standing behind a register. Avery gives a small wave and guides them toward the aisle with the anniversary-themed items. It doesn’t take long for the two women to gather what they need, and they’re both heading back to their vehicles.
“See you tonight at six?” Avery questions.
“Yes. All the kids going to be there?”
“As far as I know,” Avery replies as she waits for the tailgate to open on her SUV and then shoves the bags inside. “They bought the excuse that I needed help with the foundation this weekend, and as far as I can tell, everyone is back in town this weekend.”
“I’m just glad Grace and Xavier both interned with Jameson and live in town again.”
“Yeah, most of the kids have ventured back to Carson in the last few years, but trying to come up with a reason to have everyone get together and not suspect anything was hard.”
After a quick hug, Nikki leaves and Avery quickly follows. She knows Logan is waiting for her at the house and together they will take everything to the banquet room at Angie’s diner.
The secret really couldn’t stay a secret when it came to having desserts prepared for the event. Avery had asked her sister Sydney to bake a cake for the occasion, but she promised that mum was the word.
As Avery makes her way back to the town of Carson that she’d called home for the last twenty years, she breathes a heavy sigh. Thinking on her past she never expected to find her family or love again, but she found both. Her gratefulness grows every day.
The drive is quick, and before long, her vehicle pulls up to the house where her husband anxiously waits on the porch. Her heart starts pounding in her chest just as it had the first time she laid eyes on him. Just like her heart, her body craves him just as much. Their kids like to joke that they never moved passed the honeymoon phase. Avery and Logan usually laugh it off, but they understand her past and how she will cherish every day and live like it’s her last.
“Hey, babe,” she calls out as she steps from the SUV. Logan already walks briskly to greet her.
Without a reply, he crashes his mouth against hers as if she were his last dying breath. Their connection knocks her on her feet every time. It will never cease to amaze her.
“You're late. We only have thirty minutes before we need to be at Angie’s,” he growls against her lips.
Wrapping her arms around his neck, Avery presses her hips against his. “And what does that mean?”
“I won’t have time to ravage you how you deserve. Instead, I’ll have to be quick.”
“Well, that’s okay. You know I like it fast and hard.”
“Good grief,” Logan groans as he sweeps her into his arms and carries her into the house, not caring about everything she needs to get together for the party.
But Avery didn’t mind. She is already up for some fast and hard times with her husband.
Avery stood along the wall of the large banquet room, watching as all her siblings and their families conversed. It is hard for her not to recall when she came to this space the first time and her father introduced her to everyone. She had been terrified, and it was a rough start with a few of the brothers, but it all worked out in the end.
There are still fifteen minutes reaming before her parents will arrive. Avery’s still in shock that her siblings arrived on time. From her perch in the corner, she watches as the clock ticks down, her nerves getting the best of her as the minute hand gets closer to the six. The crowd grows quiet as they all wait in anticipation of the guest of honor's arrival.
Finally, a buzz vibrates in Avery’s pocket, the signal from the front of the restaurant that her parents have arrived.
“They’re here. Everyone get ready,” she says calmly though her heart races in excitement.
The crowd waits for the entrance door to open, and then when her father and mother step through, everyone shouts, “Surprise!” Her parents look in shock, but in a way that appears as if they also suspected it. It’s hard to say with them sometimes. Either way, Avery feels off the hook and ready to enjoy the party.
From beside her, Logan stretches his arm around the back of her waist, cradling her closer to him.
“You did a good job, sweetheart.”
“You don’t think they suspected it?” she asks, turning her head to gaze at his handsome face. She loves the way his hair has some gray filtering through the strands.
He presses his lips to her forehead with a soft chuckle. “It doesn’t matter if they did. They’d never tell you otherwise. But now you’re off the hook and can enjoy yourself.”
“Yeah, you’re right.”
“How long do you think we need to hang around before no one notices that we’ve left.”
Avery giggles as she guides him toward their seats at the table. “Haven’t you had enough?” she whispers beside him as they settle in their chairs.
Logan reaches under the table and grips her thigh inches from the apex. “Never. I also know that all the kids are going bowling tonight, so we have the house to ourselves for a few more hours.”
“Remember that first time we went bowling?” she recalls with a heartfelt sigh.
“I do. Pretty sure I was already in love with you then.”
Avery shakes her head. The two of them have come a long way since they first met. The thought of some extra alone time with him sounded nice. Most of their nights at least one kid was home since Eli was a senior in high school and Savannah went to school in Asheville. The twins, Caroline and Everett, lived in Tennessee, about two hours away. Their house still seems like a rotating door.
Placing her hand on top of Logan’s, Avery threads their fingers together. “Want to play doctor and nurse?”
“Oh, fuck,” Logan grumbles under his breath.
Leaning closer to him, her lips brush against his ear as she whispers, “I’ve been really bad about following your directions. I think you need to teach me a lesson.”
Groaning, Logan releases her hand and leans back in his chair, face tilted toward the ceiling.
“Something the matter, son?” her father asks as he takes the seat beside Avery.
“No, sir. Just remembering that your daughter will be the death of me.”
He laughs at Logan’s statement, then her father adds, “Nope. She’s the air you breathe. That’s how it should be.”
Logan sobers and looks at Joseph Connelly. “You’re exactly right, sir.”
Taking her hand back in his, Logan presses his lips to her knuckles. “You have one hour,” he murmurs low enough that no one else at the table hears but her.