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|Echoes of Scotland Street(On Dublin Street #5)(76) by Samantha Young|
We turned and she, Jo, and Ellie closed in on us so we created a small circle.
“That you’re pregnant.” I smiled. “Congratulations.”
Her gunmetal eyes softened. “Thank you. This is the last one, so Braden has everyone making a huge deal out of it.”
“It is a big deal.” Her husband sidled up to her, inserting himself in beside her and Ellie so he could press a kiss to Joss’s neck. Joss leaned into him and sighed.
“Fine, it’s a big deal, but can we please stop talking about it? This is Cole and Shannon’s engagement party.”
“Oh, please,” Hannah snorted as her big sister took Jarrod from her. “This is Ellie’s party.”
Ellie grinned unashamedly. “Any excuse, eh, baby boy,” she cooed, pressing a kiss to Jarrod’s forehead.
“Oh, give him here.” Elodie appeared at her side, reaching for her grandchild.
“You’re not playing pass the parcel,” Hannah huffed.
“Shush.” Elodie waved her off and pressed Jarrod to her body. “I haven’t held him in fifteen minutes. I’m having withdrawals.”
“How are you feeling?” I felt the need to ask. During all the excitement last weekend, I hadn’t inquired. “You look well.”
Her cheeks were flushed, her eyes bright, and she had lost that haggard tiredness she’d worn after the attack.
“I’m fine, sweetheart,” she assured me, giving me a kind smile. “I’ve had plenty of rest and I’m feeling strong. Especially now that I have another beautiful grandchild to keep me busy, and a wedding to look forward to.”
“Shannon, before I forget,” Braden suddenly said, drawing my attention from the matriarch of the family. “I have an offer for your brother.”
“An offer?” I said, puzzled.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Marco appear. He pulled Hannah into his side.
“I shared,” Cole explained, looking concerned. “Not about everything but about why Logan was in prison. I thought they could help. I’m sorry. I should—”
“It’s fine.” I cut him off and pressed a hand to his arm in reassurance. “I trust them.” I glanced back at Braden. “What kind of offer?”
“I imagine he’ll find it hard to get work when he gets out of prison, but Cole explained matters and a man shouldn’t have to bear those kinds of consequences for protecting his family. When your brother gets out send him to me and I’ll find a job for him wherever he feels he wants to start over. I have a number of opportunities for him.”
“Same here,” Marco said. “I’m site manager for a construction company. If he doesn’t find anything to suit him with Braden, I’d be happy to set him up somewhere suitable to his skill set.”
Overwhelmed by their generosity, I was struck completely dumb for a few seconds.
The silence only broke when Cole sought to close my mouth by pressing a finger under my chin. Everyone chuckled and I swatted playfully at his hand.
“Thank you,” I managed. “That really means a lot. It’ll mean a lot to Logan too.”
“You’re Cole’s family now. That makes you our family.” Elodie smiled.
“And on that note.” Cole stepped away from me and lowered himself to one knee.
“Cole, what are—”
“Stealing my thunder back.” He grinned and took my hand. “Here in this room are the people who mean the most to me. A family that embraced my family and made us stronger for it. It was the best gift I’d ever been given until the moment you told me you loved me.”
My breath hitched.
“You offered me everything last week, and I want my chance to offer everything back to you. I’m offering you what they once offered me. I’m offering you a family who will love and protect you not only because I love and protect you, but because you’re an amazing woman who deserves every sweet thing life has to give. We’re going to spend the rest of our lives happier and stronger because we have each other, and because we finally have the kind of family behind us we both always dreamed of having.”
The tears were pouring so fast down my cheeks I could barely see through the blur as he produced a narrow-pointed marquise diamond perched on a platinum band. His own eyes were bright with emotion as he slid the ring onto my finger.
Seconds later I was lifted into his arms. I wrapped my legs around his waist as I kissed the life out of him. When I finally managed to pry myself from him, a teary-eyed Jo, Liv, and Elodie hugged me, followed by a grinning Joss, Ellie, and Hannah. I received more congratulatory hugs from the men and even from the kids, and I stood there in Cole’s arms, staring every five seconds at the beautiful ring on my finger, thinking how strange life could be.
How a person could go from feeling so lonely and broken to so cherished and hopeful in only a few short months.
As I gazed around at the colorful characters who surrounded me, I decided it was them. They had a kind of magic about them, a magic they’d gifted to Cole, who in turn had gifted it to me.
* * *
It had been two weeks since our engagement. In that time I’d moved all of my things into Cole’s, where he surprised me once more. He’d had a sofa bed put in the guest bedroom to replace the bed that had been in there. He did this to provide more room . . . more room for all of my art stuff. It was also a great space away from the studio for him to concentrate on his own artwork.
Living with Cole was pretty easy overall. I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was scary and heady and exciting too.
Before I got to do the fun moving-in stuff, I went back to Glasgow to meet with my family. They were pissed, but I was done trying to prove myself to them. Only time would tell whether or not we’d get past our issues.
I had Cole now.
And I’d always had Logan.
My eyes were drawn to my brother as soon as Cole and I walked into the visitor room at the prison. Logan sat waiting for us, looking alert, scrutinizing Cole as he led me by the hand through the room.
I smiled at my brother as we took our seats opposite him. “Logan, it’s good to see you again.”
“You too, Shay.” His eyes flicked to Cole. “I take it you went big, not home.”
I laughed and nodded.
Cole looked confused.
“My brother encouraged me to propose.”