Note to Readers: These scenes take place after the end of The Groom Came Back . 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 Groom Came Back – After the End
“I think every honeymoon should last two years,” Callie said around the lipstick she was applying in the bathroom of their suite at Memphis’s famous Peabody Hotel.
Jack kissed the back of her neck. “Mmm. It was just a shame I had to get out of bed every so often and go to work. Sadly, I had to keep you in the life to which you’re accustomed…”
She snorted, but didn’t move away from the delicious sensation of his mouth on her neck. “Oh, yeah—a year in Paris and a year in New York, working in two top hospitals…you hated every minute of it.”
“I didn’t hate it,” he conceded, pushing the collar of her blouse aside so he could kiss her shoulder. His other hand swept her waist, caressed her stomach, then wandered lower. “But I’d rather be with you.”
Callie turned to face him. As always, his sexy masculinity left her slightly breathless. She pressed her palms to his chest, felt the beat of his heart through the crisp cotton of his shirt; he shivered.
“We should hit the road,” she said. “Your parents are expecting us by lunchtime.”
“Uh-huh.” His lips met hers for a long, distracting kiss. When they surfaced, his hands were on her derriere, tugging her hard against him. “It won’t matter if we’re late.”
“Jack,” she chided, “think about your mom.”
“Now? Are you kidding?” He unbuttoned the blouse she’d just buttoned a few minutes earlier. “That would be very weird.”
Callie sighed. “Still the selfish neurosurgeon, I see.”
“You bet,” he said, and carried her back to the king-size bed to demonstrate just how tender, how giving, he really was.
They passed the Welcome to Parkvale sign at one o’clock.
“Do you want to buy your mom some flowers?” Callie was curious to see how Fresher Flowers was faring since she’d sold it to the apprentice who worked for Alice at Darling Buds. From what she’d heard, the new owner was doing a great job.
“I’d rather get to the house and give her and Dad our good news,” Jack said.
One thing about her husband, Callie thought smugly, these days he knew what mattered most.
As they pulled into the Mitchells’ driveway behind Dan’s truck, the front door opened. Brenda and Dan came onto the porch. As always, a surge of love for these two dear people washed over Callie. She hurried up the stairs, hugged them both. Jack was right behind her, and somehow they all ended up in one messy embrace.
“Uncle Frank and Aunt Nancy will be over for dinner tonight,” Brenda said as they sat down to coffee in the kitchen. “I’m not sure how many of their kids will make it.”
“Great,” Jack said.
“Your mom and I went over to the cottage yesterday.” Dan stirred sugar into his coffee. “Everything’s in good order, no sign of any rats.”
“Of course there aren’t,” Jack said. “I got rid of the rats.”
Dan nodded approval. As far as he was concerned, you did a job once and you did it right. He put his hand on Brenda’s on the table. She turned her hand over, and they entwined their fingers, gazing at each other like two lovestruck teenagers.
Jack cleared his throat, but it was several seconds before his mom was able to tear herself away. “What is it, sweetie?” she asked.
“Callie and I have some news. I reached an agreement with Northcross Hospital in Memphis yesterday—you’re looking at the head of their new unit specializing in vascular malformations of the brain.”
Brenda gave a squeal of excitement. “Jack, that’s wonderful!” She came around the table, kissed Jack, then Callie. Dan’s reaction wasn’t so overt, but Callie could see he was thrilled.
“Callie spent yesterday looking at houses,” Jack continued. “She found one near our friends, Adam and Casey Carmichael. I checked it out last night, and we plan to make an offer today.”
Brenda clapped her hands. “And you’ll keep the cottage here?”
“It’ll be our weekend base,” Callie said. “And you can expect to see quite a bit of us because, um, I’m pregnant.” She’d had a few months to get used to the idea, but saying the words still thrilled her beyond measure.
The excitement her news generated, anyone would think she’d announced she’d just negotiated world peace. It was several minutes before she and Jack had answered all the Mitchells’ excited questions. There was one they didn’t ask.
“I had an ultrasound yesterday,” Callie said. “I wanted the baby’s sex to be a surprise, but I’m afraid Jack insisted on knowing.”
“Can they tell this early?” Brenda asked.
“Sometimes,” Jack said. “And yes, they could.” He let the suspense drag out, until Callie punched his arm. He laughed. “You tell them, darling.”
“It’s a girl,” Callie said. “We’ve decided to call her Lucy.”
Tears and laughter followed—even Dan and Jack were suspiciously damp around the eyes. It was another hour before Callie and Jack could escape to the cottage. Jack carried their bags into the over-the-top romantic bedroom Callie had decorated a couple of years ago. He set them down, gazed around. “It doesn’t get any better than this,” he said.
“You hate this house,” Callie reminded him, knowing it was no longer true. “You hate this town.”
He hauled her into his arms, and when the slight swell of her stomach bumped him he chuckled. He dropped a kiss on her mouth. “I love you, Callie.”
He sighed. “When are you going to get over this fear that I’ll get too bigheaded if you tell me how much you love me?”
“Never.” She kissed him long and hard. “Oh, all right, I love you so much it makes me crazy.”
“Good thing you married a doctor.” He unzipped her skirt. “I know just how to fix that.”
And he did.