Note to Readers: This scene takes place after the end of The Comeback and also wraps up the entire Matheson family story. If you haven’t read at least one of the books, this won’t make a lot of sense, and may detract from your enjoyment of the books later – please don’t read it now! You can find out more about the book and read an excerpt from the first chapter here.
After the End – The Mathesons
“Two weddings in one year,” Brady Matheson pretended to grumble as he scanned the dance floor in the Getaway Hotel ballroom and found Zack and Gaby wrapped in each other’s arms. Gaby looked beautiful in the satin wedding dress that Julie-Anne had said was 1920s style—beaded at the bust, then flowing to the floor. Zack looked pretty spiffy, too, Brady thought. Beyond the bridal couple he spied Trent and Kelly, still similarly enthralled in each other ten months after their wedding. “You’d think Zack would’ve had some consideration for my wallet before he went asking Gaby to marry him so fast.”
Julie-Anne clasped his hand on the snowy tablecloth. “Three weddings in one year, honey. You might recall a certain ‘emergency’ flight to Vegas…”
Brady lifted her hand to his lips, kissed her wedding band, still shiny with newness. “Smartest thing I ever did, Gypsy.” He doubted Zack, or any of his sons, could be as happy as he was. His wife looked stunning in her low-cut, sapphire-blue dress…he wondered how soon they could slip away….
The song ended, and Zack and Gaby returned to the table, followed by Kelly and Trent. Brady raised his champagne glass to them, beaming. As if he could begrudge a penny of the expensive weddings he’d funded, when his sons had been so smart in their choice of women.
“Cheers, Dad,” Zack said, lifting his glass. “And thanks again for all this.” The sweep of his arm encompassed the room full of celebrating guests.
Brady’s face heated. He hadn’t said that much about the cost, had he? Surely they knew he was kidding….
Zack didn’t look as if he was making a dig—he didn’t seem to do that these days. His gaze locked on Gaby’s as he clinked his glass against hers and they took a slow, deep sip of champagne.
“If you’re going to ogle each other like that all the time, it’ll take a month to drink a cup of coffee around your place,” Brady said.
Gaby laughed. “The novelty might wear off one day, I guess. Until then, I don’t want to miss a thing.”
Zack dropped a kiss on her lips, then tilted his glass to her. After she sipped, he drank from the same place on the rim of the glass. You’d think they were still in high school! Brady had never seen his middle son so lighthearted, almost playful. He humphed. Since he still got a tightness in his chest every time he looked at Julie-Anne he wasn’t so sure about things wearing off. “Anyone seen Chad and Brianna?” he asked.
Now there was one wedding he hadn’t paid for…but he’d insisted on shelling out for a big party when they renewed their vows back in March.
“Right over there.” Trent pointed over Brady’s shoulder.
Brady turned and saw his oldest son and his wife weaving their way between the tables. They looked…rumpled. Flushed with warmth.
Trent rolled his eyes. “Looks like they found a private corner somewhere. Again.”
Kelly swatted him. “Behave yourself.”
“What?” Trent protested. “I’m only saying what you’re all thinking.”
The laughter around the table confirmed he was right. Trent gave his wife’s derriere an I-told-you-so pat. She leaned into him, a look of complete satisfaction on her face.
“For Pete’s sake!” Brady said, exasperated.
“Hush, honey.” Julie-Anne topped up his champagne flute. “Be patient.”
Zack took a second away from gawping at Gaby to ask, “What about?”
“Nothing,” Brady said hastily.
“Where’s Amber?” Brady asked, seeking distraction.
Brianna heard the question as she arrived at the table, still tugging her dress straight. “I saw her and Ryan on the terrace.”
The look she traded with Chad suggested maybe Amber and Ryan had interrupted them out there.
“Dad, you have a bee in your bonnet about something,” Trent said. Way too observant, his youngest son. “Are you going to tell us what it is?”
Julie-Anne was always urging Brady to be tactful, but why the heck should he? These young people were into open communications, weren’t they? They didn’t hesitate to tackle him when it suited them.
“Grandchildren.” Brady thudded his glass down onto the table. “When am I going to get them?”
It wasn’t often he managed to silence all three of his sons. In fact, this was the first occasion he could remember.
Julie-Anne groaned. Brady wrapped an arm around her shoulder and squeezed. For all she told him to be patient, she initiated at least half their speculative conversations on the subject of grandkids.
“You’re asking when Gaby and I plan to present you with a grandchild…on our wedding day?” Zack asked, incredulous.
“None of you are getting any younger,” Brady said, not liking that he sounded sheepish.
Trent laughed. “Don’t look at me and Kelly, Dad. We have a lot more getting to know each to do before we get around to kids. But it it’s any comfort, we’re planning to have at least four.”
“Really?” Brady said, startled. “That’s wonderful.”
“But not yet,” Kelly reiterated quickly.
“I’m a patient man,” Brady assured her.
“What about you?” Brady demanded. “You and Brianna have been married longest.”
“You’re right, Dad,” Chad said. “Maybe it’s something we should be working on.”
Brianna sputtered on her champagne.
“Whaddya say, darling?” Chad asked her. “Shall we go get started?”
His wife’s cheeks flamed. “For goodness sake, Chad!”
Brady noticed she didn’t exactly say no to the suggestion, and resigned himself to the two of them disappearing again shortly. The amount of practice his sons seemed to be getting in, he could scarcely believe there were no babies.
“We’ll just have to pin our hopes on Amber making us grandparents,” he told Julie-Anne.
“She and Ryan have barely started dating,” she reminded him. The glint in her eyes told Brady that the canoodling going on around them was getting to her, too.
“I’ve said all I’m going to say on the matter,” Brady announced grandly, pushing his chair back from the table. “Now I intend to take my wife home.” His tone had inadvertently made his real intention plain, going by the protests of, “You guys!” and “Too much information” from his sons.
Brady grinned proudly as he took Julie-Anne’s hand. “See y’all later.”
“Not so fast, Dad,” Zack said.
“You’re not going to get traditional about us having to wait until you and Gaby leave, are you?” Brady asked. “This crowd looks set to party all night.”
“I can’t promise you grandchildren, but there’s one thing I can promise you,” Zack said.
“What’s that?” Brady turned to look where his son was pointing. The door from the terrace.
Amber and Ryan had just come inside, both smiling so widely that other people stopped to stare.
Amber’s gaze found her mom, and she raised her left hand high in the air, so everyone could see the ring on her finger.
“They’re engaged!” Julie-Anne half-laughed, half-sobbed.
“You’re paying for another wedding, Dad,” Zack said.