Lead Me Home Exclusive Bonus Scene
I’m so glad you enjoyed Ollie and Nikki’s story. This was quite the book to write for me . . . I toiled and changed and tweaked, hopeful to get it just right. And by the time I wrapped the epilogue, I was a sobbing mess of tears. I think Ollie and Nikki deserve quite the happily ever after, don’t you? Let’s see exactly what that looks like . . .
One and a Half Years Later
There are some things in your life that you never anticipate.
You might want them.
The only thing they do is become imaginings and fairytales that flutter at the corner of your mind. Taunting you like a tease.
Couldn’t top the quirk of a smile that lifted at the corner of my mouth.
She appeared at the edge of the meadow where we were surrounded by all our friends and family like I’d just called out to her.
Stealing my damned breath and making my heart skip about fifteen beats in my chest.
Hell, I was pretty sure she stole the breath of every person in attendance. Because everyone turned in their seats to look at her, gasps going up at the awe-inspiring sight, the girl so damned gorgeous it should be an impossibility.
Energy lit the meadow that had always been ours.
It played in the gentle breeze and danced in the streaks of sunlight that blazed over the top of the trees as the sun slowly set.
Color and light.
She was wearing this cream-colored dress that made her look like an enchanted fairy. Soft and delicate and perfect. Gauzy, flowy material draped off her bare shoulders, flowing all the way down to kiss the ground.
She looked like whimsy and magic.
The girl casting her spell.
From across the space, our eyes met.
For a second, both of us got caught up in this moment that I’d never believed I’d get.
But there it was. No longer a fantasy. This girl a firm, staunch reality.
I could feel the emotion burning my throat when my attention moved from her and to the tiny thing hopping around at her side.
Sydney Harper Preston.
The sweetest thing I’d ever seen, standing there with her little hand wrapped in her mama’s, dressed in her white dress, wearing a halo of flowers on her head.
Richard, who had been strumming his guitar as Nikki’s sister and all of her friends had walked down the aisle, paused before he shifted into our song.
The song his band had played for us on the day I’d proposed to her.
Nikki took a step out on to the white runner that ran between the rows of chairs, our daughter who’d just learned to walk a week ago prancing along at her side.
There was no stopping it. A choked sound pulled from my soul.
Sometimes it was impossible to hold back the magnitude of what you felt.
Right then, I was rushed by it.
A wave growing higher and higher with each step she took my direction.
Awe and wonder.
Devotion and love.
I watched as Nikki and Sydney came for me as they walked down the aisle, flowers strewn up all around them, the twinkle lights that crisscrossed overhead beginning to glow as the day gave way to twilight.
Nikki stopped in front of me. A tremble of a smile lit at the edge of her sweet mouth. “Are you ready for this?” she whispered.
I stretched my hand out for her. “I’ve never been so ready for anything in all my life.”
Nikki’s back was pressed to the door, and my body was plastered against hers as I kissed her wild. One arm wrapped around her waist, I fumbled with the key card, refusing to let her up for air.
“Need you, sweet girl,” I grumbled at her mouth. “God, I can’t wait to get you out of this dress. All I could think about all night. Peeling you out of it. Sinking into you. Taking my wife.”
Wasn’t ever gonna get tired of the sound of that.
“Ollie,” she gasped through a giggle, her fingers clinging to my shoulders as my lips attacked the hollow of her throat. “I thought you said you liked my dress?” she whispered.
“It’s ridiculous,” I told her.
“Ridiculous?” she challenged, her smile coming through with the word.
God, she loved to tease me.
“Uh, yeah . . . have you seen what you look like in this thing? Enough to drive a man right out of his mind. Ridiculous how gorgeous you are. How sexy you are. How tempting you are. Ridiculous. You knew exactly what you were gonna do to me when you picked it out, didn’t you?”
She tilted her head back against the door. Her tinkling laughter rolled down the enclosed hallway. It got all mixed up with the moan that rumbled through her when I pressed my cock against her body.
“You didn’t think I’d go and disappoint you, did you?” she taunted.
“Disappoint me? Never,” I murmured, nipping at her chin as I finally got the key card to cooperate. The door banged open with our weight, revealing the suite that overlooked the city.
I swept her up into my arms.
Nikki squealed and wrapped her arms around my neck. “I can walk.”
I grinned down at my wife, my heart stirring in the center of me. “Told you I was going to carry you everywhere.”
“I thought we already discussed people might get the wrong idea?”
Low laughter rumbled out. “Let ’em think what they want. As long as I get to hold you in my arms for all my life.”
“Sydney might get jealous of that. She is a little possessive her daddy.”
Love swam in my spirit.
Deep and unshakeable.
Sydney was spending the night with Hope and Kale since she loved playing with their daughter, Elena. Honestly, it was a little brutal to be away from her for the night. But Nikki and I needed this.
“Then I’ll carry both of you,” I told her.
Nikki’s expression shifted.
So genuine and real and touching me in all those places that had always belonged to her. “Don’t ever let us go, Ollie.”
I started across the living space, holding her tighter. “Never,” I whispered. I walked through the doorway and into the bedroom.
City lights poured in through the massive windows, the room making us feel like we were part of the darkened sky.
Lifted above everything else where it was just Nikki and me.
I laid her on the bed. “Never,” I murmured again.
I kissed her long.
That energy moved.
Tangled and twined and tightened.
Our spirits hooked.
Or maybe they were just one.
I thought maybe they’d always been.
I pushed up onto my hands so I could look down at her. “I love you, Nikki Preston. With all of me. I never thought I’d get to see this day. That I’d get to make you mine. Forever. That we’d get to share a family.”
A little house and three kids and a white-picket fence.
I was gonna give this girl all of those things.
I ran my fingertips down the defined edge of her cheeks. “I am the luckiest man alive.”
She touched my face. “This is where we were always meant to be. You were meant for me, Oliver Preston, and I was meant for you.”
I stared down at the girl who’d touched me the second I’d seen her. I should have known then that my life would never be the same because it would no longer fully belong to me.
She’d taken a piece of me that day, and I’d taken a piece of her.
I could feel the energy shift.
Peace fluttering through the air on dragonfly wings.
And I knew, Sydney would always be there, too.
A part of us.
A piece of us.
We are three. Forever and ever, you and me.
Nikki smiled. So softly. Wonder in those indigo eyes. “Did you feel that?”
I nodded at her, choking back that emotion again. I cleared my throat. “I feel it all, Nikki. Joy. Love. Devotion. Forever. This gratefulness I won’t ever ignore or neglect.”
We rested in the silence for a beat. In respect. In love. In our thankfulness.
In the realization that this was our second chance, and we were never going to let it go.
Then Nikki scratched her blunted nails through the scuff on my jaw. “Love me, my beast. And don’t ever stop.”
I grinned down at her. “That is the plan.”
I was home. And there was no place else I wanted to be.
Thank you for reading!
Thank you so much for reading Ollie and Nikki’s story. This book was incredibly emotional for me to write. I fell in love with all the characters of Gingham Lakes—it’s always so hard to tell a series goodbye. They’ll always live in my heart, and I hope they live in yours, too!
Now, it’s time to move onto a new group of friends and family in Confessions of the Heart. The first stand-alone in this series should be coming to you in early fall.
Thank you again for all your support and love. I can’t express how much it truly means to me.