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Coming Home Bonus Epilogue

Two months later


LILY BOUNCES IN THE boat as she sings along to the melody of the ride. “It’s a Small World,” runs on repeat as the slow-moving boat glides through the water of the indoor attraction. Jameson smiles at Lily as she points out each of the animatronic characters as if she hasn’t been on the excursion three times already.

Jameson looks over to Poppy who sits with a sleepy Ruby on her lap, then he turns his head to look behind him.  All of his family sits wedged into the narrow seats of the boat and two security guards keep watch from the back. With himself, Ryker, Harlan, and Cassidy they couldn’t be too safe.

He chuckles as the kids try to lean over the sides of the boats to get a better look at the characters as if they have never seen them before. Most of the men roll their eyes while the women and mothers smile indulgently. The only man who looks content to continue the ride is his father who sits along the back with his arm draped around his wife.

Amy and Joseph originally hadn’t planned on taking the trip with their kids, not wanting to impede on the family vacations, but Jameson insisted and paid for a honeymoon suite at the park’s most luxurious hotel. He told them it was a gift for their thirtieth wedding anniversary. His parents couldn’t turn it down.

“One more time?” Lily looks up at him with hopeful eyes and a collective groan sounds from behind him.

“Sweetie,” Poppy begins and he can see the exhaustion on her face, the day having taken its toll on her. They had learned recently that she is expecting, and at around eight weeks along her morning sickness is beginning to take its toll. She has her first appointment the Monday that they return from vacation. Poppy is still sort of mad at him for keeping her from riding the roller coasters at the parks. So he had promised her that they would come back again when she is ready.

He looks at Poppy and shakes his head suggesting that he can answer the question.

“Hey, Lilybug, I heard that they were going to start the parade and fireworks soon. Do you want to make sure we get a good spot?”

“What is fiwawoks?”

From behind her Cassidy leans forward with Ryan resting on her lap as he tugs at her necklace.

“Fireworks are beautiful bursts of color and lights in the sky. They only come out when it’s dark.”

“Oh. Are dey louwd an scary?”

“They can be loud, but I promise that you’ll love them.”

“Otay, let’s do it!” the toddler says as she fist pumps the air.

The parents file out of the boat when they reach the landing and make their way toward the corral of strollers. Jameson situates the girls in the double stroller and he joins up with Poppy and his parents.

“How are you feeling?’ he whispers in Poppy’s ear as he notices the greenish tinge to her cheeks.

But instead of complaining she looks up at him and smiles the same radiant grin he’s come to love, those two little canines poking out at him to say hello.

“I’m okay. The boat ride was making me queasy.”

The security guards they brought with them stand at the front and back of their group as they make their way through Fantasyland toward the castle. Once they reach their destination the women pull up an app on their phones and get to work scoping out the best spot to watch the parade and fireworks, finally settling on a location around the front but not directly up against the castle.

Jameson notes the time and leans against the stroller realizing that they’ll be in this spot for sometime before the festivities begin. He’s worried that the kids will grow bored but a few ice cream cones and a show on the stage make up for the monotony.

As the parade begins Jameson’s mind ventures off to visions of how different his life had been only three months ago. He was a bachelor intent on growing his business and sinking his mind into the technology world. Jameson wasn’t a playboy like many of his siblings had been when they were single, but he enjoyed taking a good woman out on a date and then mutually enjoying each other after.

Then this spunky wildflower with her two daughters crashed into his life and he had never been the same. They had their issues, but nothing a bout of makeup sex couldn’t fix. And since Ryker and Norah’s wedding Jameson felt the itch to make things permanent, which was always his plan, but now he had no second guesses.

Reaching into his pocket as the parade begins Jameson feels around for the small velvet bag that securely holds the ring he picked out for Poppy months ago. Tonight is the night he plans to make her his forever.

Bringing him back to the moment a bright flash of light shines in the sky and Lily and the other kids shriek in delight.

“Is so pwetty!” Lily exclaims as she claps her hands.

Taking a deep breath Jameson turns his head and reaches beside him feeling for Poppy’s hand, clasping it in his. She looks up at him with a joyful smile on her face and Jameson returns that smile while his other hand tugs the ring from the pouch in his pocket. Then he falls down to one knee in front of a crowd of thousands.

“Poppy Marie Holden, you came into my life when I didn’t know that I needed you. You gave me purpose and reason to want more than what I had in life. You, Poppy, are the most tenacious, kind-hearted, and loving woman I have ever had the chance to know and I truly believe that you’re parents brought you back here solely for me.

“I love you with everything I am and I think I fell in love with you the moment you tried to run me over with your car.

“Will you do me the incredible honor of becoming my wife?”

Jameson doesn’t notice the blinding lights around him as people video the proposal or the way his siblings cling to their partners as they watch their youngest brother propose to the love of his life, he simply watches Poppy’s smile widen as the tears fall from her eyes in waves down her cheeks.

“Yes! Yes, I will marry you,” she cries.

Jameson slides the ring onto her shaking fingers and then throws himself into her arms. Using his fingers, he wipes away the tears that have formed in his own eyes before placing his hands on Poppy’s cheeks and pulling her mouth to his, sealing their love with a kiss.

A tug at his leg has the couple pulling apart and he finds Lily reaching out from her stroller trying to get his attention.

“Does dis mean I get to call you daddy now?”

Poppy and Jameson both chuckle at the little girl's question and then he promptly tells her that in a few months he would love it if she called him daddy. He also can’t wait to officially sign the adoption papers.

Their family and many of the onlookers congratulate them and wish them many years of happiness as the fireworks continue to soar in the sky.

“You know,” Poppy begins as she leans up to whisper in his ear, “the only reason I would have run you over is so that I could keep you.”

“I guess that car was good for something,” Jameson mentions thinking about the old car that had finally kicked the bucket for good.

“I do believe you, though.”


“I think my parents brought us together, they brought me home.”

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