Westmount island Bonus SceneS

Falling Fast


Pregnancy is uncomfortable. There, I said it. My feet are swollen, my body can’t seem to choose a temperature between freezing cold and burning hot, I have heartburn constantly, and sleep continues to elude me.

But I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Nothing can hold back my smile as I stand here, watching my handsome husband give a speech at the official opening of Northgate Community, the eco-friendly, family-friendly neighborhood he designed. I’m so proud of him; he worked so hard to earn the trust of those of us who have lived on Westmount Island our entire lives. He made sure to build a property that fits in with our relaxed way of life and added to it in a way that maintains a sense of community.

Movement inside my gigantic belly distracts me for a moment and I rub my stomach, trying to send silent messages to my unborn son to calm down and stop doing somersaults inside of me.

When one somersault feels more like a wrestler’s choke hold, I can’t hide my grimace. My sisters notice, and Kayla raises one eyebrow at me questioningly. I try to give her a reassuring smile and turn my attention back to Marcus.

He’s finished talking now and is holding his hand out to me. Right, it’s my turn now. I waddle over and take the oversized scissors he’s giving me. I get the honor of cutting the ribbon to announce the opening of the Westmount Island Public Library. Marcus wanted to name it the Michaels Public Library, but I said that would be ridiculous. My silly husband spoils me rotten, but I can’t accept a library being named after me, even if it is being built simply because I mentioned I wanted one.

He didn’t wait long to propose – only a month after moving into the cottage with me. Marcus took me back to his penthouse in the city for a weekend. Cuddled up in front of his fireplace, looking out at the city lights twinkling at night, he slipped a ring on my finger. It was simple, romantic, and perfect.

Our son decides to give me a giant hug from the inside yet again and I can’t hide my wince. Marcus sees it and his brow furrows.

“Are you okay, baby?” He whispers as we walk over to where I’ll cut the ribbon.

“Yep, I’m fine!” I chirp back, trying not to let it show that I’m starting to wonder if these somersaults and squeezes aren’t a sign of something more urgent. My due date isn’t for another week, but who knows.

With a big smile on my face, I go to cut the ribbon, officially opening the library, when my body betrays me, and it becomes obvious to everyone present just what is going on.

As calmly as I can manage, I hand the scissors off to someone standing close by and turn to Marcus, grimacing at the wet dripping down my legs. Just then, I’m hit with another contraction. Yeah, they aren’t squeezes, they’re contractions, and they hurt!

“Holy fudge,” I breathe, grasping at my husband’s arm. “Ummm, Marcus, I think we need to go.”


A few short hours later, I’m sweaty, exhausted, and deliriously happy. Jackson Thomas Ryder arrived in a hurry, so much so that if our midwife hadn’t been at the library opening earlier, she might have missed the whole thing.

Thankfully, we all made it back to the cottage, and with Marcus and my sisters by my side, I gave birth to this sweet little man who is asleep in my arms.

My sisters and their families have gone, with promises to be back soon for baby snuggles, and the midwife has left for the evening as well. Which means it’s just me and my family, together at last. Marcus comes into the bedroom with a mug of tea for me and sits down on the bed beside me. 

I lay my head down on Marcus’s shoulder as he turns and presses a kiss to my hair.

“I think I’m going to invest in rubber bands.”

The random comment comes out of nowhere and I sit up to look at my husband.

“What? Why?”

“Because if it weren’t for a rubber band being in my pocket at the perfect moment, I never would’ve had the excuse to talk to you and I wouldn’t be here. I’m happier than I ever thought possible, with a wife and son who complete me in every way.”

He’s completely serious. Or at least his face is. But when I look closer, I can see a twinkle in his eye, which tells me Marcus is teasing me yet again.

“I’m telling you, Ella, we owe all of this to rubber bands.”

“Rubber bands?”


“You’re insane.”

“You love me.”

My eyes mist over at that. “I really do.”


“And ever and ever.”


Falling Forever



Toby’s voice calls out as the front door bangs open. It’s been three years since he first asked if he could call me Mom, and I never get tired of hearing it. 

“In the kitchen, Tobes,” I reply as I rinse the last dirty dish in the sink. He comes racing in, his face filled with excitement.

“Mom guess what. It’s my VIP day at school next Friday, and Mr. Roberge told us to bring in something we’re proud of. Can I take in your Sullivan Award? It’s so cool and I’m proud of it!”

Good grief, is my heart melting all over the floor? Pretty sure it is. My eight-year-old stepson just said he’s proud of something that I did. This kid is amazing.

“Geez, Toby, that means a lot that you want to take in my award.” I dry my hands on the towel and turn to him, blinking back tears. “Of course you can take it. Do you want to take the photograph too?”

His eyes light up. “Yeah! Can I? That photo is awesome!”

The photo in question is one I took at a temple in Tibet two years ago. The light shining through the dust particles in the air is breathtaking if I do say so myself. It sets off the peaceful expression on the monk’s face as he looks at me. When it won the Sullivan Award for travel photo of the year, I was in shock for weeks. That was six months ago, and for Toby to still feel so excited for me is further proof that my little family is everything I need in life.

Toby runs off to his bedroom, and I sink down into one of the kitchen chairs. That’s how Sam finds me a few minutes later when he comes home from the store.

“Hey, babe. You okay?” He asks, putting down the bags and coming over to press a kiss to the top of my head.

“Mmhmm,” I reply, smiling up at him. I didn’t think I could be any happier than I was on the day I married Sam. With the blessing of Toby’s maternal grandparents, I signed adoption papers for him that same day. A husband and a son all at once, I figured my life was complete. Oh, how wrong I was.

“When do you leave for Australia?” Sam’s voice is muffled by the refrigerator as he puts away the milk and eggs. I stand up and walk over to him, wrapping my arms around his waist. He straightens and turns in my arms, wrapping his around my shoulders to tuck me in to my favorite spot, right under his chin.

“I’m not going to Australia,” I say, and those dang tears are back in my eyes, threatening to fall. Sam furrows his brow at me.

“Why not? That trip sounded incredible.”

He’s right, it did. A month traveling through the outback, doing what I do best- capturing the best nature and mankind have to offer.

“The timeline got pushed back.”

“So?” He’s confused, and I bite my lip knowing that when I tell him why the new dates don’t work, he’s going to freak out.

“Well… The new dates are for early fall. We’re going to be busy early fall.”

Oh, my sweet husband, he’s still confused judging by the clueless look on his face. But I wait and watch as his mind slowly catches up.

“No fucking way. Are you pregnant, Kayla?”

I nod, and the pesky tears start to fall. Sam let’s out a loud whoop before picking me up and spinning me around in a circle. Toby comes running in, demanding to know what’s going on.

“You’re going to be a big brother, dude! Mom’s pregnant!” Sam shouts. Then he and Toby start doing some bizarre celebration dance, the same kind they do every time Toby scores a touchdown in PeeWee Football. It’s adorable, and even through my tears I’m laughing. When they finally stop dancing, both of my boys start badgering me with questions. When I tell them that I have a sonogram appointment booked for early next week, Toby grabs my arm. “Hey Mom, I changed my mind. I don’t wanna take the Sullivan Award. Can I take in one of the weird black and white pictures of the baby, instead?”

Cue more tears from this hormonal mess, and when I look at Sam, I see moisture in his eyes too.

“Of course you can, honey,” I manage to get out between sniffles and sobs.

“Awesome,” Toby crows. “Okay, the crying is weird guys. Aren’t we happy about a baby?” His face turns confused as he looks between his two blubbering parents.

Sam’s the first to recover. “We are happy, dude, really happy. And we love you and how much you already love your little brother or sister. That’s all. Happy tears.”

Toby doesn’t look convinced but accepts that with a shrug. “’kay. I’m gonna go outside now. See ya.”

Once the door closes behind Toby, Sam turns to me and pulls me into his arms. “Do you have any idea how happy you make me?”

I wind my fingers through his hair, cup his head and pull him down to kiss him. “Yep, hopefully just as happy as you make me.”

“Toby sneaking away from me on that ferry ride turned out to be the best decision he’s ever made. Who knew that defying your father could lead to a happily ever after.”

“Are you writing romance novels now?” I tease. Sam just smiles.

“No, just living one in real life.”


Falling Again


I always believed that marriage is a give-and-take. It’s a partnership, where you need to compromise, and put each other first. But sometimes, there comes a point when one person, Mac, needs to realize that the other, me, is right.

Which is why the conversation that Mac and I have had repeatedly for the last month has been driving me crazy.

“I swear to God Shawn Macdonald if you can’t see how ridiculous you’re being, I-“

“You’ll what, Tawny Macdonald?” He smirks at me and I want to swipe that look off his handsome face. “Don’t forget, T. You knew I was stubborn when you married me. Hell, you knew I was stubborn when you met me all those years ago. Don’t act surprised now just because I’m not letting you have your way.”

I stomp my foot; well aware it makes me look like a petulant child. Who cares that we’re standing on the deck of the ferry taking us from Westmount Island to the mainland, and any number of our friends and neighbors on the boat with us could see our disagreement. 

“Mac. Come on, it’s crazy,” I start, only for my infuriating husband lean in and kiss me, effectively interrupting me, again.

Goddamnit why are his kisses so addicting. I want to stand my ground. But when he deepens our kiss, and his hands squeeze my hips in that possessive way he has that makes me feel like nothing else exists except us, I’m lost. Mac pulls back and I almost let out a whimper when we part.

“Let me have this, T, please.”

I glower at him, but he knows my resolve has been weakening for days.

“You really want to be calling out that name every time you walk the dog?”

He flashes me a dimpled smile, and it’s so adorable and little-boyish, I melt even further.

“Butch Cassidy is the perfect name for a dog.”

I roll my eyes. He’s been harping on about this name ever since we decided to adopt a dog last month. He and his dad used to watch Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid when he was a child, and apparently, it’s always been his dream to have a dog called Butch. 

“Butch? Really? It sounds so… I don’t know, just, weird!” I say, in a last-ditch attempt to get him to change his mind.

Mac just smiles, and kisses me again as the foghorn blows, alerting us that we’re close to the terminal. A shelter on the mainland has a litter of puppies, and we’re on our way to see them now. Making this name debate, a time sensitive matter.

The reality is, I’ll let Mac name the dog whatever he wants. He spoils me daily, supports me all the time, and rarely asks for anything in return. If this is important to him, I’ll go along with it. Anything to make the man I love happy.

When we get to the shelter half an hour later, Mac is bouncing with excitement. He grew up with a family pet, so getting a dog has been something he’s looked forward to for a long time.

I didn’t think I was as excited about the puppy as he was, until we walk into the room where the litter is, and I see the adorable bundles of brown fur, running and tumbling around.

“Oh my God, Mac, they’re so cute,” I say with a sigh, as I sink down to the floor and let myself be overrun with excited puppies.

Mac just chuckles and sits down beside me. After a few minutes, it becomes clear that we have another problem. Mac’s got one puppy in his arms, and a besotted look on his face. I’ve got another one in my arms, and I’m sure an equally dopey grin on my face.

“Have you decided which puppy is yours?” The shelter volunteer comes into the room, adoption paperwork in hand.

Mac looks at me, I look back at him, and in unison we reply.

“These two please.”

A short while later, we walk out with not one, but two puppies.

“Tawny,” Mac starts as we get into his truck. I stop him with my hand up.

“I know what you’re going to ask, Mac.”

He looks at me, surprise mixing with trepidation in his expression. “You do?”

Just for fun, I keep him waiting in anticipation as I take a deep, audible breath in, and out. Emphasizing the sound of reluctant acceptance as much as I can.

“Yes, I do.”

Then I turn to the back seat, where our two new fur-babies are curled up in a crate, sleeping soundly.

“Welcome to the family, Butch and Sundance.”


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Always and Forever | Dogwood Cove, Book 1

He’s my childhood best friend’s older brother, and he’s determined to convince me to stay in Dogwood Cove, with him, forever.

Coming home to Dogwood Cove after eighteen years away is bittersweet. But running into Ethan Monroe has me wondering why I put it off for so long.

He isn’t the boy I played hide and seek with as a child anymore. Now he’s the seriously hot, plaid wearing, scruff bearing, mayor of this small town. A man who can sweep me off my feet, and make me feel safe, all at the same time.

Except I didn’t come back here looking for love. My estranged father is dead, and because of an unexpected inheritance, I find myself learning the truth of everything I lost when my mother moved us away.

Through it all, Ethan’s right by my side. And with every day that passes, he’s helping me to see that coming back to Dogwood Cove could be the start of the life I’ve always dreamed of.