Note to Readers: These scenes take place between the last chapter of The Diaper Diaries and the Epilogue. 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.
The Diaper Diaries – After the End
Tyler adjusted his tie in his bedroom mirror, aware that he was sweating slightly even in the air-conditioning.
“Nervous?” Jake asked.
Nervous didn’t begin to describe the emotions that churned in Tyler’s gut. Yeah, he was nervous. He’d officially be a father when Ben’s adoption came through in the next few weeks, and in—he glanced at his watch—less than an hour he’d be a husband.
Two jobs he couldn’t be less qualified for.
And yet, nothing could feel more right.
Still, that didn’t stop him feeling nervous. Didn’t stop him jumping like a debutante when the doorbell rang downstairs.
“I’ll get it.” Jake disappeared.
He was back a minute later. “Sabrina’s here,” Jake said with a neutrality that Tyler knew was entirely for his benefit. The best man and the maid of honor had decided to bury the hatchet for the big day. Jake was, if not cordial, then not hostile to Sabrina. But Tyler noticed he carefully avoided looking at her, in her primrose yellow satin bridesmaid’s dress, strapless and figure-hugging. With her blonde hair and classic features, she was every inch the beauty queen—but Tyler preferred Bethany’s red-brown hair, her pointy little nose and stubborn chin.
“Tyler,” Sabrina stepped further into the room. “I can’t find Bethany.”
“You’ve lost the bride?” Jake jumped in, accusing, before Tyler could say anything.
Sabrina rounded on Jake. “I wasn’t talking to you.”
“So, uh, you have lost her?” Tyler asked.
“I thought she might be here.” Sabrina looked around, as if Bethany might be hiding in the closet.
Tyler shook his head. Where the heck could she be? She couldn’t have cold feet, could she?
“Kate and I—” Kate was the other bridesmaid, a friend of Bethany’s “—got to her place at two,” Sabrina said. “We found a note saying she’d gone to pick up her dress and she’d be back in half an hour. But she didn’t turn up, and wherever she’s gone, she didn’t take her cell.”
“Maybe there was a problem with the dress,” Tyler said. “Where did she buy it?” And why the heck had she left it so late to pick the thing up?
“I don’t know,” Sabrina admitted.
“I thought you helped choose the dress,” Jake said.
Sabrina glared at him. “I offered, but she wouldn’t let me.”
There was no mistaking the flash of alarm across Jake’s face, acknowledged by a small wince from Sabrina. Bethany’s fashion sense was still very much a work in progress. Who knew what she might turn up at the church wearing?
If she turns up.
“She’ll look great, whatever she’s chosen,” Tyler said loyally, if not convincingly. He picked up the phone on the nightstand. “I’ll call Mom, Bethany might have felt the need for someone…older to talk to.”
Bethany’s parents had accepted the invitation to the wedding, but they still weren’t on warm terms with their daughter or with her brother Ryan. He didn’t think Bethany would have shared any doubts she might be having with them.
But when Tyler phoned his mom, she hadn’t heard from Bethany. She and Max, who would be a groomsman at the ceremony, were just about ready to head for the church, taking Ben with them.
“Hey, little brother, you don’t think Bethany’s realized a smart lady like her could do a lot better than you?” Max had grabbed the phone from Susan to ask the teasing question.
“What’s sad is that you can’t find a woman dumb enough to marry you,” Tyler retorted. He hung up on Max’s chuckle and cursed under his breath. When Bethany turned up he would read her the riot act for scaring him like this.
Through his rising anxiety, he grinned at how uppity she’d be if he tried to tell her off.
The doorbell rang again.
“I’ll go,” Tyler said.
When he opened the door, he couldn’t speak.
Bethany stood there, stunning in soft white satin that fell from a jeweled clasp at one shoulder and left the other shoulder bare. The fabric caught in a twist beneath her breasts, emphasizing her curves, then fell in soft draping to her ankles.
“I take back all the horrible things I was planning to do to you for scaring me like this,” Tyler said, his voice hoarse.
Her chin went up in the air. “I should think so. Someone had to put this wedding right, and it got to the stage where it had to be me.”
Tyler grabbed her hands—he didn’t plan to let go of them any time soon. “What are you talking about?”
The Kylie stepped out from behind Bethany, dressed in yellow satin, a less sophisticated version of Sabrina’s ensemble. “She’s talking about me.” She was smiling, but her voice shook.
Tyler released one of Bethany’s hands to take Kylie’s. “You’re going to be a bridesmaid?” he said, delighted. They’d been asking Kylie ever since they’d announced their engagement. Tyler had even visited her last week, taking Ben along, but she’d insisted she would be “in the way.” He knew Bethany had ordered a dress for Kylie, just in case, but he’d given up hope of her wearing it.
He kissed Bethany. “You’re a genius.” She rolled her eyes as if he was stating the obvious. He said to Kylie, “Thank you. The best day of my life just got better.”
Olivia held her husband’s hand as they walked down the aisle of the church to find a seat. Susan was watching for her—she waved to Olivia and Silas to join her in the second row. Ben sat in his car seat, gumming what Olivia assumed was a teething toy, going by amount of drool on the thing.
“I need some company.” Susan kissed Olivia’s cheek, then Silas’s. “All my boys are up there.”
Olivia looked at Tyler, Jake and Max standing at the altar, and drew in a sharp breath of appreciation. Seldom did one see three such gorgeous men together.
“You’re married.” Silas’s voice was a deep, amused rumble. “No looking at other men.”
He lifted her hand to his lips, kissed it. Desire shot through Olivia as it always did, and with it a welling of love for her unconventional husband. She leaned over, kissed his delicious mouth. “You’re the only man for me.”
“I know,” he said, satisfied. He glanced around the church. “If you’re wishing you hadn’t missed out on all these trappings, darling—” their spur-of-the-moment wedding in a tacky chapel in Tennessee had been a far cry from the lavish nuptials Olivia had always imagined for herself “—we could have some kind of ceremony here that your friends can attend.”
Susan gave a little sigh of appreciation at Silas’s thoughtfulness. Her initial dislike of Silas had evaporated once she’d seen how happy Olivia was.
Olivia considered the suggestion, for just a moment. “Everything’s perfect just as it is,” she said. She turned to Susan. “Sweetie, we need to find you a man.”
Susan raised both hands to ward off the heretical suggestion that any man could ever replace Henry Warrington.
But before she could say anything, the organ struck up Here Comes the Bride, and Tyler and his entourage stood to attention.
“Will you, Bethany Anne Hart, take Tyler Edward Warrington to be your husband, to live together in holy marriage?” the minister asked. “Will you love him, comfort him, honor and keep him in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, be faithful to him as long as you both shall live?”
“I will,” Bethany said clearly. She glanced up at Tyler and saw the blaze of pride, happiness—and relief—in his eyes.
Poor man, she shouldn’t have scared him by running off without saying where she was going. But she’d had a sneaking suspicion that if she left her wedding dress in Kylie’s safekeeping, she might have one last chance to convince the girl to join them. She hadn’t wanted to get Tyler’s hopes up.
She beamed at him as he also said, “I will,” in response to the minister’s question.
The minister started to pray; Bethany closed her eyes, eager to give thanks. All her life, she’d been plagued by doubts about whether her parents loved her, whether there was something she could do to earn their love…or anyone’s love.
But Tyler loved her just as she was.
The same way she loved him.
The way they would always love each other, and their precious son Ben.
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