Royal(100)

By: Winter Renshaw


“Naturally,” Derek says. “If you ever need a letter of recommendation, let me know. And you know there’s a spot at the firm for you, once you’re all finished.”

“I appreciate it,” I say. “Thank you.”

After dinner, Haven and I put together a fifty-piece, toddler-approved puzzle on the living room coffee table, and Derek helps clean up. After he leaves, Demi and I curl up on the sofa and try and decide which DVR’ed shows we should catch up on first.

“How’s Misty?” Demi asks as we peruse our recordings. “You hear from her lately?”

Blowing a heavy breath between my lips, I drag my hand through my hair. Ever since Misty retracted her accusation, Demi’s been encouraging me to forgive her. She said I need to do it for myself, and that forgiving her won’t mean that what she did was right. It’s just a way of releasing anger, untethering myself from all of that.

Now that I’m no longer a registered offender and Misty is no longer considered my victim, I’m legally allowed to be in her presence.

“Mona said she’s up at some inpatient recovery facility,” I say. “She’ll be serving her sentence as soon as she’s out.”

“You should probably go talk to her at some point. I bet she’s scared.”

And she should be. Prison is no fucking joke. And it’s not meant for the soft or the weak.

I exhale and Demi fits her head beneath my chin.

“I know it’s not your idea of a good time,” she says sweetly. “But I think you’ll feel better when it’s all done. And subsequently, so will she. Only good things can come of this.”

“Yeah.” I kiss the top of her forehead. “You’re right. I’ll visit her soon. Give her some encouragement.”

“You’re a good big brother, even if you don’t think so.” Her voice is a sweet whisper.

I grab the remote from her hand and select an episode of Walking Dead.

“Hey!” Demi pops up and tries to swipe it back. “I thought we were watching Scandal tonight. I wanted something a little . . . sexier.”

“Oh. You’re in the mood for something sexy tonight?” I rise up, guide her onto her back, and climb on top of her. Pinning her beneath me, I crush her lips with mine, feeling them pull into a grin as I kiss her. “Screw watching TV tonight.”

I crawl off of her and pull her off the sofa, sliding my hands down her thighs and up her ass before hoisting her up. I carry her to our room, and her nails dig into my scalp as she kisses my neck.

This could be the rest of my life, and I’d be the happiest man alive. We could relive these small moments again and again, like Groundhog’s Day, and I wouldn’t mutter a single complaint.

As I lay her across our bed, the bed that we share, the bed we picked out together on some lazy Saturday afternoon several weeks back, I’m filled with nothing but warmth and an unapologetic, unwavering love for Demi Rosewood.

I stare into her gorgeous blues and breathe in her soft scent that fills the electric space between us. Our love is just as vibrant and alive as ever before.

I climb over her, and she nestles her head into a pillow and tugs at the hem of my shirt, and I know with absolute certainty that I’ll never tire of making love to this woman.

Ever.

No matter how much time will pass, it’ll never get old.

I’ll never take her for granted.

And I’ll never jeopardize our happiness, so long as we live.





EPILOGUE



Demi



{five years later}



“Let’s go see Mama.” Royal’s voice from outside my hospital door makes me instantly forget the searing pain between my thighs from birthing a nine-pound baby at three AM this morning.

Apparently, Royal and I make some big babies. But they’re so darn adorable that it makes up for all the less than pleasant things that go along with that.

“Hey, baby,” I say softly when our three-year-old son tiptoes into the room behind his father.

It’s his first time being in a hospital, and judging by his apprehension, he’s not quite sure what to think of it.

Beckett carries a bouquet of lilies in his hand, the hand attached to the arm that’s currently broken and wrapped in a neon green cast, because two weeks ago, he decided to climb into the old tree house at Nana and Papa’s. He snuck in there when no one was looking and fell when he attempted to climb down the ladder.

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