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Fearlessly Yours Bonus Scene

Five years later...

“Sweetheart?” I called out as I paced through the house, looking and failing to find her. 

We’d moved into our house—the one we’d built and designed—all those years ago. It was our little slice of paradise. Moving in was one of the happiest days of my life, because it was the beginning of all of this.

Marrying her was one of the other happiest days. I could still picture how beautiful she’d looked at our beach wedding that summer, dressed in white as she floated down the aisle to me on her Dad’s arm. 

And now, apparently, I was playing hide and seek with my wife. 

“I wonder where my wife has gone?” I asked, out loud, and when the giggling started I followed in it’s direction.

Rowan was laying on the floor in front of the closet—our fully grown Australian Shepard, giving me the biggest pouty eyes I’d ever seen. 

“Did they lock you out, sweet pup?” I asked quietly, smoothing the hair down on top of her head before scratching her ears. Rowan gave a little whimper, and I moved over to the closet door.

“Well, they definitely couldn’t be hiding in here!” I exclaimed, throwing open the closet doors. “There’s no way my wife and daughter could be—”  

“Daddy!” Our daughter shrieked, launching herself at me. I caught her in my arms and then spun her around.

“Hi, baby girl.” I kissed her cheek, smoothing down her pigtails as I admired her face. She was equal parts both of us—my green eyes with Gabrielle’s brown hair, and a splattering of freckles right across her nose. “Did you have a fun day with Mommy, sweetie?” 

She nodded, giving me a big smile. “We walked Rowan to the park!” 


Quinlan smiled. “I played on the swings!” 

“You did?” I ruffled her hair, and then shuffled Quinlan onto my hip so I could extend my wife a hand to help her off the closet floor. 

“Thanks,” she said, blowing a strand of hair off her face.

“Did you have fun today?” I asked Gabbi, who breathed out a sigh of relief.

“Day one of being a stay at home mom? Check.” She rubbed a hand down Quin’s back. “I think someone’s just happy not to be in daycare anymore.” 

“And you’re still happy with this decision, right?” 

I hadn’t suggested it, but we could more than afford to live off of my one income, plus Gabbi’s social media and book accounts had blown up over the years, so she was bringing in income with that as well, but I never wanted to tell her to quit her job. I wanted her to do whatever made her happy, and whether that was at Willamette Tech or not, I didn’t care.

I’d long since left my job at the hospital, choosing to open a practice as a general pediatrician instead, and it had rewarded me with steady hours and the nights and weekends to stay home with my family. I couldn’t help but look over at Gabrielle with a smile. 

My wife’s face lit up, looking at our daughter. “Yeah. I am. It feels right.” 

Everything had felt right since we’d decided to be together. 

And then we made her, I couldn’t help but think. I couldn’t imagine life without our little girl, even if she was constantly getting dirt all over herself, because she loved to play outside. 

Luckily, we had the perfect backyard for it, down to the treehouse I’d finished building a few months back. Q couldn’t play in it herself quite yet, but I’d built it big enough for Gabbi and I to fit, and we’d had several pillow fort nights up there since. 

“What do you think?” I looked around the room. “Should I make us dinner?” 

“Yeah!” Quinlan exclaimed, and I kissed her chubby cheek. 

“What do you want?” 

“Mac and cheese?” She fluttered her eyelashes. 

I laughed. “We had that last night, baby.” 

“But.” Her eyes grew wide, giving me her best puppy face.

Damn. It was so hard to say no to that look. 

“What about I make mommy’s favorite pasta with chicken?” 

Settling Quinlan into a chair at the kitchen counter, I padded over to the fridge, getting ready to pull the ingredients out. 

Gabbi handed Quin a coloring book and crayons before pulling out her phone. 

It was zoo animals—her favorite—a coloring book we’d picked up last time we’d gone to the Oregon Zoo in Portland. She loved the place, and it was fun to take the kids and run around.

“Can we go to the zoo, Daddy?” One pleading look from my five-year-old daughter was enough to make me melt. 

“Maybe tomorrow, baby, if your Mom agrees?” I looked over at Gabrielle, who gave me a small nod, though I could see her face trying not to break out into a smile. “Tonight, however, is family night.” I tickled her stomach. “And you know what that means.”

“Ice cream night?” Q asked, her big green eyes—just like mine—reflecting back at me—and I nodded. 

“What flavor do you want to get, sweetheart?” 

Her eyes were wide. “Chocolate.” 

“Mmm. That sounds delicious.” Gabbi kissed her cheek before joining me in the kitchen, wrapping her arms around my waist. “And that smells delicious.” 

I’d already started sautéing the meat, letting the water get to a boil, and the moment the spices hit the air, I’d realized how hungry I was. 

“Do you think the twins can come?” Quinlan’s eyes looked hopeful.

“To the zoo? We’ll have to ask your auntie Angelina and uncle Benjamin.” 

She nodded. “I want to show them my new otter!” 

She’d been carrying it around ever since we’d bought it for her last week, though she’d loved the animal since practically birth. 

Rowan perked up her head at Quinlan’s explanation before laying back down at her feet. Ever the loyal girl. 

After dinner, and our ice cream run, I looked out across our porch, settling onto the bench swing with the love of my life at my side and our sleeping daughter in my lap. 

She hadn’t even made it home before falling asleep in the car. 

I didn’t have to look across the street to know that Benjamin’s house sat next to mine. The fact that we’d ended up living in the same neighborhood as all of our friends—that this had become home, truly, meant more and more every day. 

When Daniel had started planning his surprise for Charlotte, designing and building her a home, I knew that Matthew and Noelle wouldn’t be far behind.

So all four of the best friends ended up living in the same place again, and I was pretty sure every day was better than the last. Our kids were growing up together, and life was always full of laughter with all of the kids around.

The best part was we had three sets of babysitters built in, since our friends never minded the addition of one more kid to look after.

I still couldn’t believe I thought I didn’t want this. A wife, kids, this incredible life. It was better than I could have ever imagined, and even though there were days where I missed working in the hospital, I loved every moment of now. 

The adventure of a lifetime.

“Thank you,” I said, kissing the side of Gabrielle’s head.

“Mmm. You’re welcome.” She closed her eyes, resting her head against my shoulder. “For what?” The thought finally occurred to her.

“All of this. You. For being the best damn journey I could have ever asked for.”

“Oh.” Her hazel eyes popped open. “I love you too, Hunter.” 

“I know.” 

* * *

“Mommy!” Quinlan exclaimed. “Look at the tiger!” 

“I know, sweetie,” my wife smiled, holding our daughter’s hand as she rode on my shoulders. Sure, she didn’t need to be up that high, but I knew she loved it, and I was holding onto her little legs so there was no chance of her falling off. 

We’d managed to secure a zoo day after all, and Angelina and Benjamin were here as well, chasing after the six-year-old-twins, who looked like mini-clones of their parents: dark brown hair, bright blue eyes, and all of the energy. 

“What should we go look at next?” I asked, bobbing my head to catch a glimpse at Quin’s face. “The Red Pandas are right here too, and you know how those are cousin Penny’s favorite.” 

Quinlan wasn’t the only one with a favorite stuffed animal—Penelope carried hers around everywhere she went, too. At six months younger than our daughter, Matthew and Noelle’s redheaded girl was always all smiles, and the two were thick as thieves. 

The three youngest daughters of our family were all going to give us heart-attacks one day, that much I knew. 

When you added Ellie to the mix, it was constant giggles no matter the occasion—coloring, barbie dolls, or even just a trip to the park. 

“Yeah!” She agreed, enthusiastically. “Can we send a picture, since Pen didn’t get to come?” 

“Sure, kiddo. I think she’ll like that.”

The entire Harper family were currently in LA, visiting Matthew’s sister on the set of her new movie, a romcom where she was starring as the lead actress. 

“Pretty cool, huh?” Benjamin said to his boys as we watched the red pandas play, pouncing on each other and running around in their enclosure. “They look a lot like the two of you.” 

Zachary frowned. “No they don’t! And we don’t tackle each other.”

My brother raised an eyebrow. “Are you sure about that?” 

He shrugged, before scampering off to the other side of the exhibit with Wesley and Quinlan in tow, who’d gotten down off my shoulders as soon as we’d entered in here. 

I laughed. “I think it’s time you put them into sports. Let them run out their energy on the field.” 

“We’ve been talking about that. Zach wants to sign up for baseball, but Wes is still waffling.”

“Wants to be his own person already, huh?” I couldn’t help but think about how my little brother had done the exact opposite—getting involved with the things I did so we could still hang out. 

“Yeah. They’re very determined.” 

“Quin’s already signed up for little league soccer.” 

“Really?” He looked contemplative. “Damn. Look at her go.” 

I nodded. “Everything’s changing again.” 

Benjamin tilted his head. “Nah. Not everything. You’ve still got me.” He flashed his teeth. “And Emily’s coming to visit soon.” 

Our hotshot little sister, who’d managed to do pretty good for herself, too—jet setting around the country until she’d had our niece last year. Aunt Emily had brought dozens of souvenirs back for the kids from her travels, but I liked the arrival of little Freya best of all. 

“That’s true.” Summer vacation had that perk—the weather was nice, and we normally got to see everyone. 

The Sullivan Clan would all be in Montana for the last week of the summer, too, spending time with our parents so they could spoil all of our kids rotten. 

“What’s next?” Gabrielle asked, addressing the group, wrapping her hand around my bicep. “Giraffes?” 

Quinlan perked up. “Yes! Let’s go!” 

Our daughter took both of our hands, and we headed over there together.

Hand in hand, just like in life.

One hell of an adventure. 

The best one yet. 

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