The laughter of children running through the lobby of Oceanside Resort still makes me smile, even after more than a full year open to guests. I stretch in my chair, in the office Ethan renovated for me over the winter. That man never stops taking care of me in every way he possibly can.
Of course, I repay him…in my own way. Which reminds me, I need to leave soon to get ready for a weekend away with my husband. Tonight is our weekly date night, and I’m in charge of plans. It also happens to be our six-month anniversary, which is why I’m pulling out all the stops. I’ve got a swanky hotel room in downtown Victoria waiting for us, and I’ve already called in an order to Gino’s with some very particular instructions. Ethan doesn’t know what we’re doing aside from going out of town for a night.
I shut down my computer, tidy my desk, and go to find Stephanie, the woman I hired as manager last year who helped me get this place running better than I could have ever hoped for.
“Hey, Steph, I’m heading out now. You good for the weekend?”
The older woman gives me a relaxed smile and waves her hand. “Of course we are, honey. Go and have fun with your hubby.”
With a wave in return I head out to my truck, smiling at the guests I pass on the way. We’re booked to capacity every weekend through Thanksgiving in October, but the weekdays will be a lot quieter around here once school is back in session. Still, the resort is full of life and happiness, just the way I know my dad would have wanted it.
Soon I pull into the driveway of mine and Ethan’s house. As always, the sight of it brings a happy sigh out of me. I’m home.
And when I push open the front door and call out “Honey, I’m home,” and I see his handsome face smiling at me from the kitchen, my heart feels so full it might burst.
“Hey, babe,” he says, right before kissing me just as passionately as he did on the day of our wedding. That’s the thing with Ethan and I. Our love hasn’t faded at all. If anything, I want him more with every passing day.
“Hi,” I grin up at him. “Are you ready to go?”
He chuckles. “Yeah, although I gotta say, I’m pretty confused about what’s going on. Why did I need to pack for a weekend away?”
I give him a look that clearly shows how stupid I think that question is. “Because, dummy, we’re going away.”
He shoves me gently with his shoulder as he picks up our bags that are waiting by the front door. “No shit. I meant, where are we going?”
I rub my hands together excitedly. “That’s for me to know and you to find out.”
His laugh follows us as we lock up the house and get into his truck. I direct him to get on the island highway, and then I ignore all of his questions about our destination, choosing to only give him directions one turn at a time.
It doesn’t take long for him to figure out we’re headed to Victoria, but when we pull up at Gino’s, he looks puzzled.
“We drove here for pizza?”
“Among other things.” I shrug, giving him a mysterious smile. “Wait here.” I hop down, go inside, and come back moments later with a piping hot pizza made just to order.
“Damn, that smells good, babe.” Ethan sniffs the air appreciatively.
Just wait until you see it, I think to myself, trying to contain my excitement.
We drive to the hotel where I splurged and booked us a suite. It feels really good to be in a place financially where we can afford this kind of special occasion. Mrs. Henderson’s investment in the resort was incredibly generous, and thanks to that, we were open and accepting guests right on time last year.
And now I’m here, in Victoria with my husband, about to give him a surprise that should shock him in the best possible way.
We check in and head upstairs quickly. I’m trying not to rush Ethan, but I really want him to open the pizza box. Plus, I’m hungry. As soon as we’re in the room, we drop our bags and sit down on the edge of the bed, the box between us. I know Ethan has figured out that something is up, because instead of opening the box and taking a slice, I’m sitting there with my hands on my lap, suddenly anxious.
“Are you okay, Summer?” he asks, a slight frown crossing his handsome face. I nod jerkily.
“Yup. Just open the pizza.”
He lifts the lid, but his eyes are on me until I gesture down to the pizza, feeling happy tears building behind my eyes. He glances down, back to me, then down again.
“Hey shorty, why is the pepperoni shaped like a plus sign?”
“Because…” I drag the word out, hoping he’ll clue in by himself. Seconds later, Ethan jumps up and looks at me with a wild look in his eyes.
“Oh my God. Summer. Does that mean? Did we? Are you? Plus sign means a baby, right?” He grabs my arms and pulls me up to stand, then lifts me into his arms.
We’re both laughing and crying as he spins me around the room.
“We’re having a baby!” he shouts, then suddenly he stops, gently puts me down, and brings his hands up to frame my face. “We’re having a baby,” he says it again, this time with nothing but sheer wonder in his voice.
I nod, smiling through my tears. “Yeah, we are.” I know how lucky we are to get pregnant after only a few months of trying, and so does Ethan. We started talking about having a baby before we were even married, both of us wanting a family so much.
He drops to his knees and lifts my shirt up, pressing a kiss to my still-flat belly. “I love you, baby.”
I’m pretty sure my heart melts watching him. This man is the sweetest, most romantic man I’ve ever met. He rests his head against my stomach, and I tangle my hand in his hair. It’s one of those moments in time that I know I’ll remember forever.
Then my stomach lets out an ungodly noise, and we both startle, and start to laugh uncontrollably.
“Baby’s hungry?” Ethan teases.
I shake my head, and walk over to the pizza box, pull out a slice and take a huge bite. “Not the baby, the mama.”
“Well, what Mama wants, Mama gets.”
He’s still looking at me in wonder, love shining from his eyes. I’ve never heard such a soft, husky, yet loving tone to his voice, and the tenderness of his words is enough to make me put down my pizza.
I cup his cheek with my hand, lean in, and kiss him.
“I love you, Ethan Monroe,” I say quietly.
The smile he gives me in return is bright enough to light up the whole room.
“And I love you. Both of you. You are my home, my family, my life. Always and forever.”
Jackson Holt, the sexy new veterinarian in Dogwood Cove, and I both have a problem with an obvious solution.
I’ve got a busy bakery to run, and a new cafe to open, but my friends and family think I’m a workaholic who needs to find love. Jackson has an offer to be a partner at the vet clinic, as long as he shows his boss he’s in town to stay.
A fake relationship is the perfect way for both of us to get what we want. Two birds, one little white lie of a stone.
Jackson has no intention of falling in love, and I don’t have time for anything real. It should be easy to end things when we don’t have to pretend anymore… right?
We promised we wouldn’t fall for each other. Turns out that was the biggest lie of all.