Bonus Scene: “Friends and Future-giving,” a brand-new post Farewells and Forever scene
The following is a brand new scene that takes place follow Farewells and Forever. This is a very special scene brought to you not only as part of the review challenge as indicated below but also as part of Friendsgiving and Frankie-versary celebration taking place in the reader group on Facebook.
Farewells and Forever is Book 12 in the Untouchable series. To read more, Rules and Roses is Book 1.
Note: This scene is brought to you because of a Review Challenge. What is that? And also, please be aware that spoilers may lie ahead.
“Friends and Future-giving”
“Mom!” Izzy streaked into the kitchen where Jeremy and I were already working on getting the turkey hustled into the oven. It was the second turkey. The first had already gone in. There were easily a dozen other dishes prepared. The moms would be down shortly, it was still early for almost everyone except me, Jeremy, and apparently now Izzy.
She slid to a stop next to me, blonde hair escaping her braid in wisps, her eyes huge and her expression panicked. The last is what had me wiping my hands to meet her intense gaze. Our eldest daughter was something of a perfectionist, didn’t always know when to take a break, and could often work herself up into a fit of anxiety trying to do everything.
“Hey,” I told her as I crouched. Then she threw her arms around me and I cradled her close. “Shh, what’s wrong?” She was actually shaking. “Bad dream?”
I caught Jeremy’s eye as I stood, still holding her. I was just five months pregnant now, the bump was there with our fourth child and we’d announced it to the whole family. But I had the balance down for carrying even my big girl.
He’d wiped his own hands before running a hand over her head. “I’ll make you some hot cocoa.”
“Thank you,” Izzy said in a muffled voice that came out small and a little worried. Leaving Jeremy to the prep, I carried Izzy out of the kitchen and down the hall. The house was huge and we’d made some changes over the years. Other parts, we’d kept the same. Grandpa Ted’s study was exactly as it had been, right down to the pool table and the big chairs in front of the fireplace.
Archie had so many memories in this room. So did Eddie. More than once I’d found them here after a meal or a day, just sharing a drink and chuckling. We’d put up Christmas decorations everywhere else, but we kept it light in here. This year, we’d achieved twelve trees. I rather suspected next year, one would end up in here whether we planned for it or not.
Still, I nudged the door closed and carried Izzy over to one of the big armchairs. It was the one Archie favorited and it always made me think of him as I sat. There was no fire at the moment, though the wood was set up. The room was more than warm enough, so I settled Izzy on my lap just holding her until she lifted her head.
“I had a bad dream,” she admitted, tear tracks on her cheeks a testament to that.
“Bad dreams are no fun,” I said and she gave me the most solemn of nods.
“I don’t like them.”
“Most people don’t like them, babycakes. Do you need to talk about it?” I didn’t ask if she wanted too because, well, I never wanted to talk about mine. Sometimes, I needed to talk about them. Sometimes she needed it and sometimes she just wanted cuddles.
“I don’t know,” she said, lower lip jutting out for a moment. “I—”
Jeremy opened the door quietly, carrying in two nice mugs of hot cocoa. While I was stuck on decaf coffee, I could have hot chocolate and he’d loaded it with whip cream, and candy canes. Oh, he’d broken out the peppermint hot cocoa.
He set the mugs down next to us and I had a feeling my eyes were as large as Izzy’s at the moment. “For my two favorite ladies.”
“But we’re not supposed to ask for the special hot cocoa,” Izzy said, the wonder in her voice dazzling.
“You didn’t ask,” Jeremy told her with so much kindness it squeezed my heart. “Besides, what good is a rule if I can’t break it now and again?”
“It’ll be our secret,” I said and Izzy bobbed her head.
“This is why you two are my favorites.” With that, Jeremy slipped out as quietly as he’d come in leaving Izzy and I to sip our hot cocoa. While there was a lot of prep to do, I didn’t want to rush her. Especially because her lower lip was still a bit wobbly and the tears on her face were still damp.
After helping her balance her hot cocoa cup, I took a sip of my own. It was like a chocolate orgasm and I sighed at the breathless bit of peppermint adding its soothing kiss to the bomb of chocolate. The whip cream crowned it all with sweetness.
“You have whip cream on your lip, Mommy,” Izzy warned in a too solemn voice.
“Hmm.” I licked it off. “I was saving it for later.”
That made her laugh all over again. So we sat there in the quiet room, just savoring the hot cocoa and the cuddles. When she finished her whole cup, she curled up with her head on my shoulder. “What if the baby is a girl?”
“Then you’re going to have a little sister,” I told her.
“But if it’s a boy, then I will have three baby brothers.”
“This is also true.” I waited her out. When she set her hand against the bump, she bit her lip. “Was the bad dream about the baby?”
I’d been known to have them myself. Especially with Izzy, the dreams hadn’t been as bad with Josh or Charlie. Maybe because I’d relaxed? I didn’t know. I hadn’t had any this time around, but the fact Izzy was worried kept me focused on her.
“Kind of,” she admitted. “Is the baby asleep right now?” Her favorite thing to do when I’d been pregnant with Charlie was “talk” to him when he was awake, but she always whispered if she thought he was asleep.
“Maybe.” I was twenty-one weeks and I’d been feeling him or her for a bit now. But not at the moment.
“Okay,” she said, pitching her voice a little lower. “Do you want a boy or a girl, Mommy?”
“I want a healthy baby,” I told her honestly. “Boy or girl, I’ll love them for being them. Just like I love you and the boys.”
“Will you be mad if I kind of want him to be a boy?”
“Why would I be mad about that?” I wasn’t going to laugh at her or tease her, not yet. Izzy was being so serious. Sometimes, she took after Ian in how hard she would look at something before she decided. If she wanted to ask me this question, then it was important.
“Because maybe you want a girl.”
“Do you mind if I ask you a question?”
She shook her head.
“Do you not want a baby sister?”
Guilt filled her eyes and I wrapped her up in a hug. “I—in my dream it was a girl and I wasn’t special anymore. No one paid any attention to me. Not Daddy or Papa or Dad or Pop.” She swallowed hard. “You just played with her and kept calling her your favorite little girl…”
Setting my hot cocoa aside, I curled Izzy to me closer and pressed my lips to the top of her head. “Izzy, baby, there are three things I need you to remember for Mommy.”
“Okay,” she snuffled the word. My baby was trying to be so brave.
“One,” I said, leaning back so she and I could look each other in the eye. “No one can replace my Izzy-belle. No one. You are my baby, you will always be my baby. You are my favorite Izzy ever. Girl or not, I am not going to love you any less. I didn’t with Charlie or Josh, did I?”
“But they’re boys, Mommy,” she told me in all seriousness.
“This is true, we have a lot of boys in this house, so maybe another girl will help us keep them on their toes.”
That gave her a beat and she looked surprised.
“Two,” I continued before she could latch onto that. “Daddy, Papa, Dad, and Pop have so much love in them they could never not find time for you or love for you. They adore you. If I have another girl, they are going to need you even more.”
Confusion filled her eyes. “Because I’m already a girl.”
“And the oldest. You helped so much with Charlie. You still do and you help with Josh.”
“And three,” I pressed onwards and gave her another kiss, “Do you remember how big our family is?”
“Yeah, you have lots of grandparents, aunts, and even a few uncles…”
“I do,” she said slowly.
“That’s a lot of love. Don’t you think?”
She bit her lip then looked at me sideways before she nodded slowly.
“Besides,” I said. “Another girl might save you from all the pink.”
Izzy’s eyes grew huger if possible. “Wait—you mean that I wouldn’t have to wear the pink dresses just because one of the grandmas got them?”
“Nope,” I told her. “I mean the little one might love pink and then we’ll have to hose everything down in it.”
Her little nose wrinkled.
“If she is a he, then he could like pink too.”
At that, Izzy snorted.
“Either way, they are going to be their own little selves and you’re going to be the very bestest of big sisters ever.” I tickled her a little, cajoling her smile to grow. “Do you know how I know?”
“Josh told you?”
I laughed. “Nope, Charlie. Josh thinks you’re a big ol’ meanie cause you took the last cookie.”
That got me a real laugh out of her and then Izzy hugged me again.
“I love you, Mommy.”
“I love you, too, Izzy-belle. Do you feel better?”
She gave it all the appropriate thought before she leaned back and stared up at me. “I think so. It’s okay if the baby is a girl.”
“Yeah,” she said then leaned down closer to my stomach, “But if you are a girl, you have to be on my side in everything.”
Laughter floated out of me again because the baby gave a flutter of movement. He or she was waking up. “You may have to keep reminding her.”
“Don’t worry, Mom,” Izzy told me in all seriousness. “I will.”
“Come on, then,” I told her. “We need to go help Jeremy with the food.”
We had a lot to do.
To Be Continued in 2024 when Frankie and the guys return for Hellos and Happily Ever Afters, including all the bonus scenes and one very special novella. Be sure to subscribe to news and updates so you don’t miss a thing.