Bittersweet Bonus Epilogue

Some months later

“This just doesn’t seem right. He’s too young. Maybe we should defer a year.”

The mascara wand in my hand froze mid-swipe against my lashes as I shifted my focus in the mirror to look at Jensen. “It’s kindergarten, Jense. We aren’t sending him off to college. There is no deferring.”

He crossed his arms over his chest, stretching the material of his tee over his broad shoulders in a way that made me drool a little bit. “Well, I don’t like it. He’s not ready.”

Sliding the wand back into its tube, I screwed the mascara closed and dropped it onto the vanity before turning and moving in to place my palms on Jensen’s chest. My man wasn’t taking this very well. He’d been struggling with the fact our boy was getting older for a while now. When I’d first mentioned Brantley starting school, he’d acted like he hadn’t heard me, going about his days pretending it wasn’t happening. Now that the day was finally here, and he could no longer bury his head in the sand, he was being pouty and sullen about it.

“He’s not the one who isn’t ready,” I said gently.

At that very second, Brantley’s loud voice carried across the house as he came running out of his room. “It’s the first day of school!”

“See?” I said with a grin. “He’s totally ready.”

A second later, there was a crash, followed by his, “I’m okay!”

“What have I told you about wearing socks in the house?” I shouted toward the open bathroom doorway.”

“I forgot, Momma! Sorry!”

His rushed footsteps started pattering through the house again as he ran from his bedroom to the bathroom.”

Jensen’s jaw ticked as he grunted, “He might have really hurt himself.”

“He’s fine,” I insisted. “That kid’s been running into walls since he started walking.

“But he might have a concussion,” he continued to argue. “Maybe he should skip today, so I can take him to the doctor. Just in case.”

Reaching up, I cupped his cheeks in my palms and declared, “Brant’s fine. He’s not hurt, and he’s not skipping his first day of kindergarten.”

His arms fell to his sides. “I just . . .” He trailed off, blowing out a sigh and turning his face away from me as the muscle in his jaw ticked. “. . .I’m not ready. I missed so much of his life already. I feel like I’ve barely been back a minute, and he’s already going off to school.”

My heart clenched at the sadness on his face. “Baby, I know there are some things you missed, but there’s still so much left to experience. And you’re gonna be here for all of it,” I whispered. “His first crush. His first girlfriend. His first heartbreak. You’ll be here for every parent-teacher conference. You’ll be here when he turns into a punk teen we have to ground because he won’t put his damn phone down at the dinner table.” He gave me a tiny smirk on that one. “This isn’t the end of anything, honey. It’s only the beginning.”

“Only the beginning,” he repeated on a murmur, reaching up to grab hold of my hips. His gorgeous gray eyes flashed as he stared down at me, so full of love and happiness, it nearly took my breath away.

“Yep. The best is yet to come, bunny. Just wait and see.”

He leaned in, teasing me with a soft brush of his lips against mine, and like always, it was enough to heat my blood and make my body tingle, desperate for more. But before I could get carried away—and hopefully drag my man along with me—we were interrupted by our five-year-old hurricane flying into the bathroom, exclaiming, “Okay, I’m ready!”

I looked to Brantley and immediately curled my lips between my teeth to keep from laughing.

Standing there, looking as happy as a pig in shit, my kid threw his arms out to show off the outfit he’d painstakingly put together all by himself. Avengers footy pajamas, a pair of underwear worn on top, and a pillowcase tied around his neck like a cape.

I chanced a glance at Jensen to see he had one brow cocked in wonder as he took Brantley in.

“Uh, sweetheart,” I started. “I’m not really sure that outfit’s appropriate for school.”

He looked down at himself before returning his eyes back to me, the deep gray so much like his father’s shining with disappointment. “But why not? I wanna be a superhero.”

“And you can be a superhero, bud,” Jensen told him. “But don’t all superheroes dress in regular clothes when they aren’t out fighting bad guys?”

He looked up and to the side, giving that some serious thought before relenting on a grumble. “Yeah, I guess.”

Jensen’s fingers at my hips pressed in before he let me go and took a step away. “Come on, buddy. I’ll help you find something else.”

I swooned just a bit when Brantley reached up and took his dad’s hand, and the two of them disappeared out of sight.

A few minutes later, my boys came out of Brantley’s room and joined me in the kitchen, where I’d just started the coffee pot.

“Well, Momma,” Jensen said, waving his hand out. “What do you think?”

I looked down at my boy and had to fight against bursting into tears. To anyone else, Brantley was just wearing a t-shirt and some jeans, but I knew the truth. He couldn’t go to school as a superhero, so he’d dressed up as the next best thing in his eyes. His jeans were artfully distressed, not naturally faded, and the black of his t-shirt was much bolder, but everything about my son from top of his floppy hair to the toe of his little mini-biker boots was his dad.

“I think he looks perfect,” I croaked, battling down the lump of emotion that had suddenly formed, making it difficult to breathe.

“I look just like Daddy,” Brantley declared proudly, his little chest puffed out.

A bubble of laughter burst past my lips. “I can see that.” Man, the girls in his class were going to be in all kinds of trouble. “All right, kiddo. Go grab your backpack so we can hit the road, yeah?” He spun on those little boots that melted my heart and bolted back toward his room. “And no stuffies!” I called. Only thing in your backpack should be school supplies!”

“Ah, man!”

Jensen came toward me as we waited for Brantley to remove all the stuffed animals he’d crammed into his backpack, wrapping his arms around my waist and pulling me flush against him.

“You good now?” I asked, resting my palms on his shoulders and slowly dragging them down across his chest, loving the swell of muscle I felt beneath the fabric of his shirt.

“I’m good,” he stated, his tone low and husky. “Just needed a bit of perspective is all. You gave me that.”

“Glad to hear it,” I said softly. “And just a bit more perspective, you know what else you’ll get to experience now that our kid’s in school during the days?”


Lifting up on my toes, I wound my arms around his neck and spoke with my lips brushing against his. “Lunch break sex in an empty house.”

The growl that rumbled up from his chest sent a shiver straight between my thighs. “Oh, sunshine,” he grunted, pulling me tighter against him. “You’re on.”

And just like that, just like every day since Jensen and I got back to what we’d once been, life got a little bit more perfect.

The End . . .
for Now.

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