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FAIR WARNING: This epilogue contains spoilers associated with the next book in the series: TANGLING WITH THE MOUNTAIN MAN


Two Years Later - Christmas




I rolled over into Cole’s side and snuggled in as close as I could. Typically, I had to fight for space as our daughter often ended up in our bed during the early hours of most every morning. But not today. By some miracle, a Christmas morning miracle, Olivia and her older brother, Matty, had both stayed in their own beds all night.

Last night, after we’d sent Matty to bed, after just one more snowman sugar cookie, Cole and I sat in front of the tree waiting him out to make sure he’d fallen asleep. With our fireplace roaring cozily, we sipped our spiked peppermint cocoas. Well, his was anyway. I wasn’t a fan of the peppermint schnapps he’d picked up earlier that day before he came home from work.

Finally this year, Cole and Beck opened their carpentry business. I loved when he came home all charged up instead of drained from a job that was just a way to pay the bills. He found a lot of satisfaction in creating something with his hands and he’d learned so much from Beck that he was able to do most of the remodel work on our new to us home himself.

“Hey, there wife. You’re falling asleep. Let’s go get the Santa presents so I can take you to bed.” Cole brought in Matty’s hoverboard which our boy had been lobbying for all year and the cutest pink balance bike for Olivia. She’d been walking for a couple months, where had the time gone, it seemed like just last week we’d brought her home, marveling at Matty taking on his new role as big brother very seriously.

Once done with the stockings, we snuck past the open door of her nursery and into our room. Cole closed the door behind him, a sexy grin spreading across his face as he locked it. “I realize we may only have a few hours before one or both of the kids sneaks into our room so….” Cole moved swiftly toward me with a wicked gleam in his eye and in the low, growly voice I loved, said, “I propose a quickie.”

He wrapped me up close and, oh yes, my handsome husband was more than ready for the ever elusive quickie he believed was all that and a bag of chips. But as I liked to remind him, women needed a much longer warm-up period before the big O. Well, most women anyway.

 “Instead of a quickie, how about I promise to be quiet?” My voice rises as I stare hopefully into his eyes.

“You say you can be quiet, but I’ve yet to actually witness this promise and we usually end up having to hide in our closet. Not that I mind, at least it’s carpeted, but you, my gorgeous wife, will…never…be…quiet. At least not when I’m inside you.” Cole waggles his eyebrows, then cups his hands under my bottom, lifts me up, and carries me to our bed.

I released a long sigh as he settles himself between my legs, his erection pressed against me, in the exact spot I desperately need him to be. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t need him. He’s managed to overtake all my previous not so good memories and give me nothing but happy ones. As he rocks against me, making me wet enough to think that maybe trying for a quickie might just work, the sound every parent of young kids echoes out.

“Ma-ma-ma-ma!” Olivia chants at the top of her lungs.

“How does she always know?” Cole sinks his head into the crook of my neck. “Let’s ignore her. Maybe she’s just talking in her sleep?”

Laughing at the hope and the frustration I hear in my husband’s voice, I pat him on the shoulder and sigh. “Maybe, or maybe we should move to the closet where we can’t hear her?”

“You don’t have to ask me twice.” Cole springs back, tripping himself up in the comfort. “Damn, first the baby, now the bedsheets are against us having sex tonight.”

“Not tonight, just right now.” Then, as if our daughter heard me, she once again chants my name. “I’ll rock her till she falls back to sleep, then you and me and the closet floor have a date. Deal?”

“Deal.” He grins and before I’m even across the threshold, he’s removed his prosthetic leg, stripped, and settled himself under the covers.

Unfortunately, it took me longer than I thought it to rock our little girl into a deep enough sleep that I could confidently transfer her into her crib without waking her. But it gave me enough time to think about all the things I wanted Cole to do. He may just get his wish for a quickie.

Walking into our room, I heard the distinctive low and rhythmic snorts of one tired daddy. Ah, the spirit is always willing, but after a certain age, the sandman’s pull becomes just as powerful as our libidos were before kids.

Quietly, I removed my checkered moose pajamas emblazoned with “Mama Moose” across the long sleeve henley top. Cole had gamely gone along and worn his, which said “Papa Moose” once he saw the kids in their identical sets. We even managed to get a selfie with the four of us smiling beneath our tree. We had definitely made a core memory with the kids today and I couldn’t wait to make another one tomorrow morning.

“Mm-mm. I feel a naked woman in my bed.” Cole’s husky voice sent shivers through me as he  rolled over and covered me with his toasty, warm, and very awake body.

“Were you really asleep just now or playing possum?” I lifted myself up, getting as close as possible to my husband’s hard, and toasty warm chest. I still had days where I pinched myself. Our life was as close to perfect as one could dream. I never imagined that I’d find a love like ours and sometimes, not often, I dwelled on what my life would have been like had Matty not climbed up Evie’s tree that fall morning a few years ago. But oh, am I glad he’d disobeyed me that day.

“For someone who seems so against quickies, I do believe you are very ready for me.” Cole’s fingers had slipped between my folds, finding the evidence that yes, I was more than ready for him.

In between sighs and many moans, I finally was able to tell him the truth. “Well…I was already excited when we were talking about hiding in the closet and then I had plenty of time to think about you while our very tired and stubborn daughter took her sweet time falling back asleep.”

Cole chuckled, “Not exactly conventional, but I guess I can’t complain, since I’m finally getting my wish.” With swift precision he spreads my thighs wide, waits for me to bring my legs up around his waist and enters me in one thrust, doing deep.

I hold back a loud moan from the intense, delicious friction of being stretched and filled. Cole sets a steady pace that takes much longer, lucky me, than a simple quickie.

However, my orgasm builds quick and when the first sharp tug hits, my mouth opened ready to scream his name. Instead he quickly captured my lips, kissing me deeply, slowly while I fell apart beneath him. He soon follows with a shout to rival me on my best days as he too falls over the edge.

Like a couple of teenagers, we shushed each other in between laughter and thankfully neither child woke up. Sated and happy, we fell asleep with our limbs tangled, and our breath and heartbeats in sync.


Christmas morning with two kids was chaos. Wonderful, happy chaos. Cole spent the morning following Matty around the main floor as our son negotiated the nuances of the hoverboard. In between napping wherever she happened to be at the time, even on the handlebars of her new bike, our sweet little girl now sat in her highchair, banging blocks together as I placed dishes on the dining room table for our guests.

Cole would pick up Grandma Aggie soon for an early afternoon supper, then later that evening Beck and Taya, along with her two grown daughters, Lauren and Dylan, would stop by for a dessert party. Evie and Sam and their son, Sammy, who was just a few months older than Olivia, would be here after they finished dinner at Sam’s mom’s house.

I’d picked up some of our favorite treats from Just Desserts and Taya, who had her own catering company, was bringing some of her yummy Christmas fudge and hot buttered rum for the adults and a non-alcoholic version just for Matty.

Hours later after everyone was full of good cheer and many, many holiday treats, Matty came up to me, his face bright and his hair a sweaty mess. “Uncle Beck almost crashed into the banister on the stairs, Mom. His recovery was awesome! You should have seen it!” Everything lately was awesome.

“I’m sorry I missed it. So, are you ready?” I knew I was. I couldn’t wait any longer now that everyone we cared about was here in a home designed for entertaining. I had protested at first when Cole had found the five-bedroom with a basement Craftsman not long after we got married, but the layout and the neighborhood with its towering Ponderosa pines and the large oak tree in the backyard turned out to be the perfect fit for us. Plus, the large great room off the kitchen made our house the default gathering spot for friends and family.

“Now? Aw, Mom. Archer was going to try it next.” Matty pleaded.

Archer King was the uber-rich developer that Cole and Beck had recently won the contract for to do the finishing carpentry work on his multi-million-dollar facility on the outskirts of Pineville.  Apparently, Archer had planned on spending the holiday alone until Taya found out and invited him along.

What was one more guest? And surprisingly he was single, never married in fact. My wheels had begun to turn when I’d heard that news. I mean wasn’t there a saying about how a happily married people wanted to see everyone around them experience the same thing. I just needed to figure out who might be a good fit for him. Handsome, driven, funny, and willing to help with the dirty dishes, he would make someone very happy.

Sighing at my son’s silly face as he tried to give him more time, I give him a quick hug. “Yes, Matty. Now. You wanted to help me with this, remember?”

“Oh, yeah. Sorry, Mom. I do want to help.” With a final squeeze, he takes off running toward the front of the house. “Dad! Everyone! Mom says it’s time for the White Elephant thing!”

Shaking my head, I grab my gift from the pantry and followed the raucous sounds coming from the family room where we’d set up the tree. How could I scold him for shouting on Christmas day?

“Ma-ma-ma-ma.” Olivia was happily babbling away on Grandma Aggie’s lap, but as soon as she saw me, she threw up her arms begging to be picked up.

Snagging her, I dropped a kiss on her forehead then snuggled her onto my hip and began the explanation of the game. After much haggling and good-natured pleading, everyone had received a nice, if maybe not very useful, under twenty-dollar gadget-knick-knack-bottle-of-spirits-or-possible-re-gifting-item to take home.

“Hey, Mom. There’s still something under the tree.” Matty picked up the brightly wrapped gift and shook it. “Sounds like a box of rocks. And it has Dad’s name on it.”

Cole stood up and walked over to Matty. “Maybe it’s that coal my mom always warned me I’d get if I didn’t stop being naughty.” He winked at our son, and everyone in the room laughed.

Beck let out a loud groan. “Even your jokes have turned into dad jokes.”

“It was more of a pun, but whatever, bro.” My husband gazed over at me, a quizzical look on his face, and asked, “You wouldn’t know what this is, would you, Mrs. Nolan?”

“You’re not supposed to ask what’s inside a gift, Cole. You’ll need to open it up to find out.”

Shaking the box, a couple more times he finally rips off the wrapping, and opened the box, pulling out handfuls of tissue. Digging to the bottom, he pulls out a box of golf balls. “Titleist Pro V1s. Ah, Santa didn’t forget me after all. I have been very nice this year.” Waggling his eyebrows at me, I sigh.

Yeah, that never gets old.

“Quite flirting with your wife, Nolan. Save that for after we’re all gone.” Beck heckles from the couch where Taya’s on his lap.

“Right, look at you both over there. Is there even any daylight between you two when you’re together?” Cole teases, then rattles the box of the balls and holds them out for Matty to look at. He’d picked up golf not long after moving back to Pineville. It was one sport he could still participate in comfortably since his accident.

Before Matty could take it from him though, Cole froze, then flipped the box over and examined what was attached on the backside. “Hold on, buddy.” His gaze was laser focused on the box and everyone looked at each other a bit confused about what was so interesting on the back of a box of golf balls.

But not Matty. He was jumping up and down in a circle around Cole and laughing at the expression on his dad’s face.

Cole looked at me, then back to the box, then down at Matty. He handed the box to our son and with three long strides made his way to me and Olivia, wrapped his arms around my shoulders, and whispered, “Please tell me that’s not a prank, Scarlett Nolan.”

“It’s not a prank,” I answer with a laugh-cry.

“Why would Scarlett prank Cole on Christmas?” Grandma Aggie sounded genuinely confused.

Matty ran over and wrapped his arms around both of us, then stated, “She didn’t Grandma. We’re having another baby!”

Shouts and cheers rang out, and we were congratulated by our family and friends. The kids were soon more wound up by all the commotion than if we’d fed them nothing but sugar for dinner. So, okay, they did have a lot of dessert. Oh, well, Christmas only came once a year.

Evie rushed over, pushed her brother aside and gave me a hug and kissed Olivia on her rosy cheek. “I’m so happy for you both. You don’t know what it means to me to see my brother so happy and so over the moon in the love with you Scarlett.”

“Don’t make my cry, Ev. I’ve been hiding these pregnancy hormones from Cole for a week now and with the holiday, well, you know how it is, I’m ready to blow.”

My sister-in-law, ginned and winked at me. “Oh, yes. I remember how it was with Sammy and I’m also having a repeat performance.” She smoothed a hand over her stomach, then pressed a finger to her lips. “I’m telling Sam tonight, after we get Sammy down for the night.” She walked over to give Cole a hug, then joined her husband.

Cole wrapped an arm around my waist, then dropped a kiss on top of my head. We both looked around the room, neither saying anything for a moment.

Taya was playing with Olivia, and we had a brief moment to ourselves since the big reveal. Grandma was dozing and Beck and Archer had turned on the TV, watching the replay of the annual Christmas NFL game and seemed to be arguing over a play. Taya’s daughters were helping out and picking up all the wrapping paper and assorted plates, and it wouldn’t be long before we’d be alone again.

“So, that was quite the reveal. Anything else you have planned? Just so I can prepare myself in case it’s another shock.” Cole squeezed my waist then placed his hand over my stomach, still not quite back to pre-baby-Olivia shape.

“It was, wasn’t it? But a good one. A happy one, right?” I knew what the answer would be, but I still wanted to hear him say it.

“The best. I just can’t believe how lucky I am, Scarlett. You, Matty, Olivia and now number three here. I’m so damn happy. This one may not have been planned but will be no less loved. That I can guarantee. We make pretty great kids.”

Tears had slowly fallen down my cheeks as he spoke, and I was so glad I’d chosen tonight to surprise him with the news.

“I guess when we become a family of five, we’ll need to get a bigger car, huh? But not a minivan. Something with a roomy third row.”

“That’s awfully specific, Cole. What do you plan on doing in this bigger car? Haul around Matty and all his friends to soccer practice?”

With a familiar waggle of his eyebrows, my husband dipped his head and against my ear whispered, “With three kids in the house, we’ll need another location for those quickies you just proved you can more than enjoy.”

Well, he wasn’t wrong.


I hope you enjoyed this peak into the Nolan's life a few years on. 

If you haven't picked up TANGLING WITH THE MAN yet, you can get your copy below


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