"I'll Never Not Love You," Michael Bublé
"Helium," Sia

Chapter 23



"Chief Swan, this is Edward Cullen. How are you this evening?"

"Edward. I've been waiting to hear from you," he says slowly, his voice nothing like his gruff greeting. In fact, I'd say I can hear a smile in his tone. "I can't complain. How are you?"

"I'm good. I was hoping you and I could meet up for a beer or dinner sometime this weekend."

"Hmm, I'll do you one better. The boys told me you took them fishing a couple weeks back on that camping trip you took."

"I did."

"So, you wouldn't be opposed to hitting the lake Sunday morning, would you?"

I'm not even a little surprised by his suggestion. I probably should have expected it. "Not at all. What time do you want to head out?"

"And you're going fishing … with my dad?" Bella asks slowly.

"Is that so strange?"

"I mean, I guess not. Maybe I just don't understand why."

"He wanted to spend some time together, wants us to get to know each other a little better."

"Or maybe," she says, winding her arms around my waist and grinning up at me, "he wants to get you out on a boat and see how well you can swim."

Grinning, I pull her closer and peck her lips. "I guess we'll see. Either way, I think it's a good idea. We haven't really spent much time together. And I know how important your family is to you." I shrug. "I feel like I should make the effort with him. Show him how serious I am about you."

Her expression softens. "You really are special, Vamp, you know that?"

"What can I say? You bring out the best in me, babe."

Leaving Bella warm in her bed on a Sunday morning, well before the sun is up, takes a Herculean effort. It's a Sunday without the boys home, and these kinds of mornings are typically spent rolling around in the sheets, taking advantage of the last day of a childless house for the next week. It feels wrong on so many levels to walk away from her. But knowing how important my time today with Charlie is, I do it anyway.

He suggested we meet halfway, so I'm familiar with the terrain on the drive to Lake Pleasant. I'd suggested we meet for breakfast somewhere, but he insisted on casting our lines early.

"I'll bring coffee and donuts," he'd said, which is how I find myself out on a small fishing boat, eating a less-than-nutritious breakfast a few minutes past seven.

"How's that bear claw?" Charlie asks, casting his line into the water.

"Very good. I can't remember the last time I had one."

"There's a local donut shop near the house. Picked them up this morning. Nothing beats a fresh one."

"No, sir."

The stillness around us is peaceful, but anxiety gnaws at my insides. I need to steer the conversation to matters more important than fresh baked goods. But if it doesn't go as well as I hope, I'm not sure I want to be stuck on a boat in the middle of a lake with him.

I finish off the last of the donut and wipe my hands on a napkin, sipping at the coffee Charlie brought before picking up my own rod.

He doesn't even glance my way when he says, "The boys said you didn't catch much when you were out here last."

"No, sir," I say with a chuckle. "We didn't catch a damn thing."

He chortles. "Can't say my fishing trips with them are any better. They haven't mastered the skill of sitting still for very long."

"No, they haven't. But spending time with them is more important than how many fish we might have caught."

He hums, reeling in his line and casting it again. "They told me they had a good time, though, despite how many fish you didn't catch."

"That's good to hear."

He glances my way. "Seth also filled me in on a little chat you boys had."

Despite nerves threatening to make that bear claw reappear, a slow smile spreads across my face. "Did he?"

"He sure did." He places the grip of his rod in the holder clamped to the hull and turns to fully face me. "He said you talked about weddings and how they felt about you asking their mother to marry you."

I reel in my own line and set my rod down. Meeting his steely gaze, I collect every ounce of confidence I have. "I did. I'm in love with your daughter, sir. I want to ask her to be my wife."

The corner of his mouth turns up. "I see."

"And while I realize Bella is a grown woman who doesn't need your permission, your blessing would mean a lot to me. It would mean a lot to both of us. I know she looks up to you and her mother. She respects you both. To have the support of her family is very important to her … to me. If I'm lucky enough for her to say yes, I know being married to me will present its own challenges, so I'm hoping—"

He holds up a hand, putting an end to my rambling. "Let me stop you right there. Yes, you're right. Bella is a grown woman, and she can more than make up her own mind. But she's also my baby girl. She'll always be my baby girl. I've watched her start a family only to go through a miserable divorce years down the road. I don't want that to happen to her again, and I especially don't want my grandsons to go through that again."

"No, sir. The last thing I'd ever want is to see any of them unhappy."

"But you're right, being married to you won't be a walk in the park. Have you talked about how that would work? How she'd cope with you potentially being gone for months at a time? And if you get assigned somewhere else, how things would work with the boys seeing their sad excuse for a father?"

I can't stop my smirk at his apt description of Garrett. "No, sir, not in depth, but we have discussed the possibilities of what might be ahead and how we might navigate it all." I shift in my seat, leaning forward, my forearms on my knees. My eyes never leave his. "I love her more than … more than I can properly articulate. I know things may not always be easy for us, but I also know it'll be worth it to make a life with her, with the boys. I love them all more than you can possibly imagine."

"I can guess," he says, his gruff tone making a brief appearance. "And what did my grandsons have to say about you asking their mother to marry you?"

"Seth asked if he could go on the honeymoon with us."

He chuckles, looking off toward the horizon. "Sounds like him." Shaking his head, he sobers a little, looking back at me. "The one I worry about is Jake. That kid's had a rough go of it the last couple years."

I bob my head in a nod. "He has. The last thing I'd ever want to do is hurt him. Either of them. Charlie, I love those boys like they were my own, and I want nothing more than to marry Bella and help her raise them. When Jake asked me to make sure I didn't make his mom cry, I promised him I'd do my best to make sure that never happened. But I'm also going to do everything in my power to make sure those boys are happy, too."

He breathes a long sigh. "It's been a long time since I saw any of them really, truly happy. Too damn long. That is, until you came along."

Anticipation swells in my chest, that anxious gnaw loosening its grasp.

"I've known my fair share of military men over the years. A few of them might have been less than honorable, but most of them have been stand-up guys. I can usually spot the difference—and the bullshitters—from a mile away."

His frankness makes me smile.

"I knew from the moment I laid eyes on you that you were one of the good ones. It would make me incredibly happy to see you take care of my baby girl. Just … treat her right and promise me you'll never make those boys question where they belong in the world."

I reach out and take his hand in mine. "You have my word, sir. I'll take care of all of them."

"Thanks for keeping them last night," Bella says to Mrs. McCarty, half watching me help the boys load their things into my SUV.

"It was our pleasure. They're always a joy to have." Eleanor turns her attention to Jake and Seth as we make our way back up the path. "Can I get one more hug before you leave?"

There's no hesitation when the kids hug their grandmother, but I also don't see the familiarity they have with Charlie and Renee. I also can see in the way Eleanor presses her cheek to the top of Jake's head and closes her eyes, she likely feels it, too. "I've enjoyed having you two with us this weekend." She releases them but still holds them at arm's length. "You were such handsome boys in your little tuxedos."

They squirm a little under her attention.

She laughs and releases them. "But I can see I'm embarrassing you, so I'll stop. When your dad and Kate get back from Hawaii, we'll have you over again. How does that sound?"

After mumbles of "okay, Grandma" from both of them, we say our goodbyes.

"Did you guys have a good time?" Bella asks as I back out of the driveway.

"It was okay," Seth says.

I watch his brother in the rearview mirror. "Jake? What about you? Did you have fun at the wedding?"

He shrugs, staring out the window. "I guess."

Seth leans forward in his seat, his eyes bright with excitement. "There was cake, just like Daddy said there'd be. I had two pieces! I got some on my monkey suit, and Kate was mad about it. Daddy said it was okay and the cleaner could get it out. But I think she was still mad about it. She said it would mess up the pictures. But we already did pictures before the cake, so I don't know why she was so worried." He stops long enough to take a breath before asking, "Mommy, what's overreacting mean?"

Amused, Bella turns in her seat to look at her youngest. "It means to get upset about something that isn't really a big deal. Why?"

He sighs as he lays his head back and looks out the side window. The movement seems too grown up for his little body. "Daddy was right. Kate was overreacting."

Our two weeks with the boys are everything I hoped they would be. Yes, our weekends are jam-packed with activities; Jake asks to go to Castles and Coasters one weekend, and Seth gets his wish of visiting Enchanted Island the next. We drop a small fortune between the two amusement parks, but we have a great time.

That isn't even the best part, though. The best part is just being with them. Since our camping trip, they've gotten used to me staying over, so I'm there every evening after work, helping them with homework and chores, reading bedtime stories and tucking them in. The icing on the cake is that I get to crawl into Bella's bed every night.

"Hmm, this is exactly what I need," she murmurs as she snuggles into me.

The feel of her in my arms, even though she's wearing a ratty old t-shirt and sleep shorts, is absolute fucking heaven.

"You and me both, baby."

Our breathing is practically synced; the slow rise of her chest matching mine as she lies in my arms. I'm so content, it doesn't take long for sleep to tug at me, threatening to drag me under.

"I talked to your mom this morning."

I shift, exhaling a deep breath as I'm yanked from the brink of drifting off. "You did?"

"Yeah. She was calling to make the final plans for Thanksgiving next week."

"Guess I need to go home and get the guest room ready. They're coming in Tuesday, right?"

"Yeah. Their flight comes in that evening. I thought I'd go with you to pick them up if that's okay."

"I'm pretty sure if you don't come, my mother will have something to say about it. I think she's more excited to see you again than she is to see me."

"I seriously doubt that."

"We'll see. So, what about Thanksgiving? Are we still going to your parents' house?"

"Yeah. If I'm lucky, I can survive the guilt trip."

"Guilt trip?" I ask with a lazy chuckle. "What are you talking about?"

"My mother isn't happy with me right now. Mom and Dad didn't realize the boys were staying with Garrett all week and that they'd miss Thanksgiving with us. She's upset, so she's making me feel guilty about it. Even Esme sounded heartbroken that they weren't going to be able to see the boys while they're here, so I feel even more guilty. I know I agreed to Garrett taking them next week after they get back from their honeymoon, but now I'm regretting it." She snuggles closer. "I've gotten used to the boys being with me all the time. I've gotten used to the four of us being together," she says softly.

"I have, too, baby. This has been an amazing two weeks."

I can feel the rise of her cheeks on my bare chest. "Even though they wore you out at Enchanted Island yesterday?"

"Even though."

"This time last year we were still getting used to the whole arrangement, so we were a little more fluid with our plans for the holidays. The kids kind of floated back and forth to wherever there was a family gathering going on." She sighs, sounding like she's carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders. "I know I agreed to the new schedule, but that doesn't mean I have to like it."

"Listen, I know your mom might be upset she won't see the kids, but she'll get over it, right? As much as it pains me to say it, you're doing what's best for Jake and Seth, not your parents. Their father deserves to have time with them, too, no matter how much we'd rather have them with us all the time."

"I know," she says begrudgingly.

"What about Christmas? We— I mean, you have them then, right?"

She tilts her head back, looking up at me and smiling. "Yes, we get them on Christmas. He's supposed to have them home after dinner on Christmas Eve, and we don't go back to the usual schedule until after the first of the year."

I hold her closer and press my lips to her temple. "Then we'll make the time we do have with them count."

She buries her face in my chest, kissing me over where my heart beats for her. "Yeah, we will."

Holding her and talking about plans for us—for the two of us and for the four of us together—is exactly what I need. These past two weeks have been a little taste of what our future might be like. And as I drift to sleep, just thinking about what that future might hold brings a smile to my face.

Thanksgiving is laidback and easy. My parents and Bella's get along very well. In fact, I'm pretty sure before the rolls are out of the oven, our mothers have started secretly planning our wedding. Charlie's stares and raised-brow glances put me on edge, but only because he knows what my plans are.

All too soon, the Swans' home is overflowing with people, and us menfolk are relegated to the patio out back.

"Hey, Edward, you want one?" Emmett asks, holding up a cold beer from the cooler.

"Yeah, thanks."

"Charlie? Carlisle?"

With everyone confirming they'll take one, Emmett carries over four bottles and hands them out before settling into the chair beside mine.

"So, you have two family gatherings to go to tonight, Emmett?" my father asks.

"Sure do. Lunchtime meal here, then dinner at seven at my parents' place." Twisting the top off his bottle, he sighs. "And I love my family, but I am not looking forward to going over there tonight."

I raise a brow as I open my own beer.

"Let's just say things at the Swans' is always more relaxed," he says, answering my unasked question as he glances over at Charlie. "And Rosie and Kate don't exactly get along."

"You don't say?" Charlie drawls. "My precious Rosalie doesn't get along with that homewrecker?"

"Can it, old man." Emmett fights a smile before finally giving up. "I thought we were going to need a referee last Christmas."

"It was that bad, huh?" I ask.

"Oh, yeah. They were probably five minutes away from a full-blown cat fight. I can't remember the last time I saw Rosie that upset. And it was all because that woman had the nerve to ask her to be a bridesmaid. Can you believe that?" He snorts a laugh. "The only thing good to come out of that was that Garrett wasn't too surprised when I turned him down when he asked me to be his best man."

"The boys said you only went to the church for the ceremony."

Emmett nods. "Yeah. It was a compromise for my parents, I guess. One of those 'keep the peace' kind of things. Mom and Dad have been trying to get the family to 'heal,'" he says, using finger quotes. "Rose and I talked it over, and we decided the best we could do to appease them and still show our support for B was to be there for the wedding but skip the reception." He shrugs. "It's kind of hard to know what the right thing is when you're put in the middle like that."

It's Charlie's turn to sigh. "You know Bella wouldn't have held it against you, Em. She realizes he's still your brother. You're still his family."

Emmett looks over at his father-in-law. "Yeah, but she's my family, too, Charlie."

I meet my own father's eyes and his expression likely mirrors my own. I know without a doubt that this family is the one I want to be part of for a very long time.

As the clock nears one, we move inside and sit down around the table. It's the largest family holiday gathering I've been to in a very long time. I've spent so many holidays stationed far from home, I'd almost forgotten what it felt like to celebrate with the people you love. It feels even more special when Renee prompts us to share what we're thankful for.

Emma and Serena start us off before it moves along to Rose and Emmett. So far, everyone's gratitude is for the usual things—family, friends, health and happiness—but when it's my mother's turn, it's a little more personal.

"I'm thankful for the time we've had with Edward this year, and I'm so very thankful he's found someone so special to share his life with. I'm also very thankful for our expanded extended family. It's been an absolute joy meeting and getting to know you all, and I can't wait to spend many more holidays together."

I catch sight of Bella's rosy cheeks as she ducks her head.

Up next, I clear my throat as a million and one thoughts swarm my head. "Um, this past year has been … it's been life-changing, and the woman sitting beside me is the sole reason for that." Turning to meet her stunned gaze, I reach for Bella's hand. "You and your boys have irrevocably changed my life. I'm so thankful for you, Bella."

"I'm thankful for you, too," she whispers. "So thankful."

Lost in the moment and completely oblivious to the family looking on, we both lean in and share a soft kiss as visions of future holidays with this amazing woman flash through my mind.

I just have one more thing to do to make sure that happens.

Bella's up and gone before the break of dawn to catch some Christmas shopping deals with Rose, leaving me to sleep in. It also affords me the time I need to make sure all the details are finalized for my plans. After making half a dozen calls to make sure everything and everyone is in place, I shower, dress, and triple check that I have everything I'll need. Today will be a defining moment in my life, and I want to make sure everything is perfect.

The sound of the front door closing breaks me from my compulsive double-checking.


"Yeah, babe. Hang on." I pat my pocket one last time and take a deep breath, letting it out slowly. "Showtime," I whisper, leaving the safety of the bedroom.

"There you are," she says with a bright smile. She eyes me from head to toe, undoubtedly noticing I'm dressed in jeans and a sweater and not my usual weekend uniform of sweatpants and a t-shirt. "And all dressed up, too. What's up?"

I walk to her and wrap her in my arms. "How about you tuck all that away in my closet and change into something nice but comfortable?"

She narrows her eyes. "Why?"

"I want to take you somewhere."


"It's a secret."

"A secret," she says slowly. "What kind of secret?"

"The kind you're going to love. Have you had breakfast?"

"Yeah, Rose and I stopped at Ronnie's for pancakes around eight. Why?"

"If you've already eaten, it means we can just go." I pat her backside and release her. "So, go change and we can get out of here. And bring a jacket."

Reluctantly she steps back. "I'm warning you, Vamp, if this is something awful, you'll regret it."

The ring box weighs heavily in my pocket. "I promise it's nothing awful."

"Okay. I'm trusting you."

Her words ring with unintended meaning. "I know, baby. I won't let you down."

"You're really not going to tell me what we're doing?"

I bite back a smile as I stare out at the road ahead. "Nope."


"What part of 'it's a surprise' do you not understand?"

She folds her arms over her chest, huffing back in her seat. "The part where I told you I don't really like surprises."

"What if I told you I know you'll love it and that you won't have to wait long before you know what it is?"

Bella scowls over at me, and I swear I hear a rumble of a growl in her chest. "How much longer?"

"Hmm … ten minutes, maybe."

With another "hmph" she turns to watch the passing scenery. I watch from the corner of my eye as we near the airfield, and I see the moment when she recognizes where we are.

She whips her head around toward me. Her sour mood vanishes before my eyes and is instantly replaced with excitement. "Are we flying today?"

"We are," I confirm as I exit the 101 loop and head toward Glendale. She squeals, sounding a little like Seth when he gets overly excited, and kisses me on the cheek. "You like the idea, I take it?"

"Like it? I love it! I can't wait!"

Once we're parked, Bella throws her door open and runs around to my side to open mine.

"Okay, okay, I'm coming!" I say, laughing as she grabs my hand and practically drags me out of the car. "Hold on. I need to grab a blanket. It's nice and cool down here, but it's going to be a little cold once we get up there." I open the rear door and grab the blanket I've stashed there. "Okay all set."

As we walk toward the office to check in, Bella's excitement is palpable. That is, until she stops dead in her tracks, causing me to almost stumble into her.


She spins around to face me. "The boys," she says. "Should we be doing this without the boys?"

I cup her cheek and place a gentle kiss on her lips. "Just this once I want to be selfish. We'll have a hundred other opportunities to take them up with us, but I want it to be just us this first time."

Her reply is a quiet "okay."

"Are you sure you're really okay with it? If not, we can do this another day," I offer, silently praying she'll relent.

She shakes her head and smiles. "No, I'm really okay. Promise." She rises on her toes and kisses me. "Come on, flyboy, show me what you can do up there."

Hand in hand, we walk into the office to file my flight plan and settle my account. By the time we finally make it to the hangar, Bella is back to practically vibrating with excitement. It's all she can do to stay where I've asked her to while I perform my preflight check and pull the plane out of the hangar and onto the ramp.

I escort her to her side and offer her a hand so she can climb in. "Watch your step."

It takes less than a minute before she's buckled in. "There. Snug as a bug." With a peck to her lips, I back away, closing and latching her door and jogging around to my side, climbing in and repeating the process of getting strapped in.

"You make that look so easy," she says, eyeing me.

"Years of practice, baby. Years of practice." I reach for the headsets, checking the connections before handing Bella hers. "Go ahead and slip these on and we'll check the volume for you."

After confirming the headsets are operational and Bella can hear me, I meet her eyes. "Ready for this?"

"Roger," she says with a cheeky grin.

"All right, then. Let's do this." With the flip of the master switch and a turn of the key, the engine starts, and the prop begins to turn.

And with a little push of the throttle, we make our way toward the edge of the ramp and I call the tower.

"Glendale tower, Cessna 172 November 61918 Echo Charlie requesting taxi for takeoff with Sierra."

Wide-eyed, Bella stares at me. I shoot her a wink as the tower replies.

"Cessna 172 November 61918 Echo Charlie, Glendale tower. Taxi to runway 01 via Romeo 2."

"Taxiing via Romeo 2 to runway 1, November 61918, Echo Charlie." With clear instructions, I steer us along the tarmac, entering the taxiway, until we reach the runway and stop at the hold short line. "Glendale tower, November 61918 Echo Charlie holding short 01, ready for departure."

Our headsets once again come to life. "November 61918 Echo Charlie, Glendale tower. You're cleared for takeoff. Depart straight out to 4500 feet, runway 01."

"Straight out departure to 4500 feet, runway 1, Cessna November 61918 Echo Charlie."

And with the all clear, I gradually push the throttle forward and pull back on the yoke, our speed increasing until, finally, the wheels lift off the ground and we're airborne.

As we climb, Bella lets out a squeal.

"You okay over there?"

"Okay? I'm so much more than okay. This is …" She stares out the window as we climb in altitude. "This is so cool, Edward." Like a kid, her nose is practically pressed to the glass.

I chuckle and turn my attention back to the clear blue sky ahead. Once we reach cruising altitude, much like every other time I'm at the controls of this old bird, I relax into my seat, settling into the flight.

"This is so amazing up here," she says reverently, peering out at the ground below us. "It's been so long since I flew, but this is so different." She turns to me. "Thank you for bringing me."

I reach over and take her hand, bringing it to my lips. "I'm only sorry it took me so long to make this happen."

"Don't be sorry. I know how busy you've been." Her gaze drifts to her window, all the while her grip on my hand never loosening.

We fly over Lake Pleasant and farther north until we near where we hiked in Sedona.

"Oh, wow," she murmurs. "Is that Cathedral Rock?"

"Good eye. It sure is. Looks a whole lot different from up here, doesn't it?"

"It's stunning."

I grin over at her, unable to help myself. "I know my view is."

With her cheeks ablaze, she looks over her shoulder at me. "You're a hopeless flirt, do you know that?"

"Only with you." I turn my attention back to the horizon and do several flyovers of the park and the landmarks familiar to Bella. On the third pass, I know it's time to set the rest of my plan into motion.

I clear my throat. "Hey, how do you feel about helping me fly this thing?"

"What?" she practically shouts. "I don't have the first clue about how to do that. We'd die. No"—she shakes her head—"you don't want me to help."

I reach over and pat her thigh. "I'm not going to let anything bad happen, babe. Don't you trust me?"

"Of course, I trust you. It's me I don't trust."

"You can do it." I take a deep breath, attempting to calm the raging nerves now surging through me. I clear my throat. "There's even a checklist in the side pocket over there. Read it to me and you can ask any questions you have before you take over."

"Okay," she says with a sigh. "But don't say I didn't warn you." She rifles through the side pocket, extracting the sheets I took the time to laminate. She glances at the cover page. "Copilot, huh? Am I your copilot?"

"Always, baby." I nod my head in her direction. "Now, read off the checklist. The list starts on the second page."

Smiling, she turns back to her assignment, going through a somewhat bogus checklist that I typed up on my lunch break two weeks ago. "Verify fuel mixture rich. Verify carburetor heat on. Verify pilot's planned course for best and worst case scenarios. Verify ring engagement on approach. Verify pilot …" Her head pops up, her eyes huge and boring into the side of my head. "Edward?" she asks, her voice cracking.

"Keep reading, baby."

"Verify pilot is prepared to commit to copilot. Edward, I—"

"There's more, Bella."

The more she speaks, the more her voice cracks, and I know without looking at her there are tears in her eyes. "Verify pilot will provide soft place to land for copilot and her crew. Confirm copilot's left hand is prepared for engagement." Finally, she looks over at me, and my eyes meet hers. "Edward?"

"I've been flying solo for years. Even when I'm up in my fighter jet, I'm on my own. I don't want to be on my own anymore." Smoothly, I pull the small velvet box from my jacket pocket and open it, holding it out toward her. "Will you marry me, Bella?"

Her hands cover her gaping mouth as those pooling tears finally spill over onto her cheeks. "Oh my god." Her hands drop to her chest as a hopeful smile tugs at her mouth. "Really? Are you serious?"

"I've never been more serious about anything in my life. And I want to share the rest of mine with you and the boys. Say you'll marry me, Bella. Be my wife."

She lunges for me, her lips aiming for mine, only to be held back by the belts and blocked by the mics we're both wearing. With a laugh and a trembling hand, she moves the mics out of the way, and she presses her mouth to mine. "Yes," she whispers. "Yes, I'll marry you."

When we're back in Glendale's airspace and have confirmed our landing, I switch to the CTAF and call a few anxious people waiting on the ground. "McCarty Unicom, this is Cessna November 61918 Echo Charlie." I smile over at Bella. "Engagement confirmed."

"Cessna 61918, this is McCarty Unicom," Jacob and Seth's unmistakable voices call over the com. "Your crew is ready for duty."

A/N: *sigh* This was one of my favorite chapters to write so far. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did writing it. I can't wait to hear your thoughts.

A special thank you goes out to ruinedbyrob for her help with the technical bits of the cockpit talk. The internet can only help so much, so her insight and suggestions were invaluable. Thanks, Christa! Xo

***Unfortunately, we've come to the end of the pre-written chapters. I've left this in a good place, so I'm hoping you won't be too upset with me for what I need to do. There's another arc to write, and it's all tumbling around in my head, but for now, I'll be placing this on a hopefully short hiatus. The words have just been incredibly stubborn this time around. My aim is to write the rest over the coming weeks so I can return to uninterrupted weekly posting ASAP. Thank you all so much for your love and support of this story. It truly means the world to me. Xoxo

Remember, the best way to stay up to date with what I'm up to, join in the discussion, and to see exclusive teaser pics, check out my Facebook group, Sunshine Fics. I'd love if you all could join us. Who knows, maybe in the effort to make new words for this, I'll fire off a few smaller pieces to get the gears turning.

I wish you all a happy and healthy 2023! With any luck, I will "see" you soon!

Be kind.
Stay safe.
Stay well.

Lots of love