Note to Readers: These scenes take place after the end of Her So-Called Fiance . If you haven’t read the book, they won’t make a lot of sense, and may detract from your enjoyment of the book later – please don’t read them now! You can find out more about the book and read an excerpt from the first chapter here.
Her So-Called Fiance – After the End
“I didn’t think I’d be so nervous,” Jake admitted. One hand stroked Sabrina’s hair. “After the scare you gave me during the primary, I figured the election itself would be walk in the park, no matter what happened.”
Sabrina snuggled into him on the couch, without looking up from the TV. “I’m nervous, too.”
“You, Ironwoman?” he scoffed gently.
She cuffed his ribs. “I’ve been assuming you’re going to win this thing…but maybe I should have married you, just to be sure.”
Jake chuckled. “Susan and her a-wedding-will-do-wonders-for-your-polling kick. Too bad I’ve sworn off manipulating voters.” On the TV screen, a man insisted to one of the exit pollsters that he’d sooner quit breathing than vote for Jake Warrington. “Get out of the way and let them talk to someone with sense,” Jake advised him.
“I’m starting to worry about your habit of talking to the TV,” Sabrina said.
He kissed her lips, and every worry she’d ever had fell away under the seeking pressure of his mouth. She gave back, put all of her love into the kiss. By the time it ended, she was on Jake’s lap, their clothing disheveled.
“I don’t care if I lose,” he said raggedly, “so long as I get to do this every day for the rest of my life.”
“You got it.” She planted a kiss on his chin. “And if you lose, you get to take over the wedding planning.”
Their wedding was scheduled for January 2. Coordinating everything during the run-up to the election and while the Injured Kids Education Trust’s plans for the new school were gaining momentum had been a nightmare. Worse, her father had suffered a heart attack in July. His surgery had been a success, but Jonah was being forced to retire and was grumpy as heck over it. Forbidden to go to the office, he was sticking his oar into every aspect of the wedding plans.
“My plans revolve around the wedding night,” Jake told Sabrina, “and they’re very advanced.”
She heated from her core outward. “I can’t wait.”
Just when he would have kissed her again, his cell phone rang. He grabbed it off the coffee table. “Hello, Susan?”
He listened, then ended the call. “They need us down at the hall,” he told Sabrina.
Which meant the election result was about to be announced. She scrambled off the couch and fished beneath the coffee table for her shoes. Luckily the silk jersey dress she’d chosen for this public appearance was almost uncrushable. She smoothed the fabric, and looked up just in time to see Jake toss her the keys to the Alfa.
She fumbled, but caught them. “You want me to drive? Aren’t we in a hurry?”
“I’m too nervous.” He held up a hand and she saw a faint but distinct tremor.
They drove in silence to the high school hall that had been set up as Jake’s election-day base. Eyes open and firmly on the road, Sabrina prayed Jake would win, but whatever the outcome, that it wouldn’t derail the precious relationships they’d built with each other and with their families over the past few months.
She pulled into a parking space held for them by one of Jake’s campaign workers. Jake came around to open her door, ignoring the flash of cameras from the waiting photographers. “Ready, sweetheart?” he asked.
Sabrina climbed out, her fingers laced through his. “Ready for anything.”
He made a couple of casual, but non-committal remarks to the reporters as they walked inside. The result had been too close to call all day—the closest-run governor’s race Georgia had ever seen.
Susan was waiting just inside the door. She embraced them both. “They’re announcing the result in less than two minutes,” she scolded. “What took you so long?”
“I was driving,” Sabrina admitted.
Susan patted her arm. “That’s all right, then.” She ushered them into the hall. The army of Jake’s supporters let out a cheer as they entered. By the time Jake and Sabrina reached the stage, the yelling and stamping had just about raised the roof.
At the podium, Jake held up a hand for silence. Sabrina noticed it was no longer shaking.
“I want to thank you all for being here,” he said, “not just today, but every day of this long and often frustrating campaign. Not one person here has had the luxury of being certain of the outcome—” he glanced down at Sabrina “—except my fiancée who will be my wife in a few weeks’ time no matter what.” The cheering grew louder as he dropped a quick kiss on her lips.
“Your dedication has amazed, inspired and humbled me,” Jake said. “Whatever happens tonight, we will all have been changed by the trust and friendship we’ve built over the past six months.”
Sabrina glanced down at the front row. On the left-hand end, Jake’s father held hands with Susan. Ted’s cheering must in part be due to the fact that he would have Susan to himself after tonight. He caught Sabrina looking, and winked. They’d built a rapport the past few months, based on their mutual love and protectiveness of Jake. Sabrina would miss him and Susan if they went ahead with their plan to divide their time equally between Atlanta and Florida.
Next to Ted, Tyler and Bethany held hands. No one other than Jake and Sabrina knew that Bethany was just pregnant, but right now, seeing the way Bethany glowed, anyone might guess. Sabrina’s gaze moved along to her father, paler than usual, but applauding robustly. Hopefully he would announce his successor at Merritt, Merritt & Finch soon, and then he could relax the way he needed to.
Next, her sisters, both damp-eyed with pride in Sabrina and all she’d achieved. Who would have thought it? She was equally proud of them—she gave them a thumbs-up. Now, if only Megan and Cynthia could find the kind of love Sabrina had with Jake….
Susan Warrington stood, and began gesticulating to the sound technicians. The election result was imminent. Jake had insisted on being here with his team to hear it, no matter what. After Sabrina had told the truth about their engagement, openness had become the hallmark of their campaign. Tonight would be no different.
“We can now declare the result of the election for governor of Georgia,” the wooden voice of some election official boomed into the hall. “The new governor is Jake Edward Warrington.”
Jake had won! Sabrina was oblivious to the roar of the crowd as Jake swept her into his arms for a kiss that was way more than strictly celebratory.
“You’re crying,” he murmured against her lips.
“I’m happy.” She curled her fingers into his hair and went back for another kiss, not caring that Jake’s hands were on her bottom in front of millions of TV viewers.
In a few more seconds, Jake would address the crowd as their elected governor. For those seconds though, he was all hers. He seemed to read her thoughts; his hands moved up to her waist and tugged her closer.
“This governor thing,” he murmured, “it’s not forever. But you and I are. I love you Sabrina, for always.”
“I love you, too. “ She spread her hands on his chest. “But now, you have a date with the people. You get on with your job, and I’ll work on the forever part, starting January 2.”
“Starting now,” he corrected, and kissed her again.