Read Ramsay Online

Authors: Mia Sheridan

Ramsay (33 page)

EPILOGUE

 

Almost Two Years Later

 

Brogan

 

We were married beneath the sycamore tree next to the stable. This time, I was the one who waited for her. My bride arrived on Fionn's arm, wearing a white lace gown and a glowing smile, holding a simple bouquet of hydrangeas. Her beauty stole my breath. But then, it always had.

"Ná bí ach ag análú," Fionn whispered on a smile as he put Lydia's hand in mine and stepped aside.

Just breathe.

"Thanks for meeting me," Lydia said softly, a little shyly, her face radiant with love. I swallowed back a grin, turning to face her fully.

We said our vows as the sun set behind us, and when we were pronounced husband and wife, I took her face in my hands and kissed her with the overwhelming amount of love and passion I felt in my heart.

The small group of family and friends in attendance clapped and tossed flower petals at us as we walked back up the short aisle hand in hand, laughing with the pure joy of the moment.

Later, we danced under the stars, hundreds of candles in mason jars hanging from the trees and set on a few tables, casting the outside party area in a romantic glow. In the distance, the horses roamed the pasture, including Maribel who I'd bought back for Lydia when we'd moved into the house.

A few couples away on the outside dance floor, Eileen laughed as Fionn dipped her. Lydia smiled as she watched them for a moment and then looked at me, her expression soft. "She dances because of you," she whispered. My breath caught. Suddenly, right there, all the sacrifices, all the pain, it all seemed to make sense, and I felt filled with peace.

She dances because of you.

I smiled down at my beautiful bride, the woman I loved to utter distraction. "Did I ever tell you I received my first kiss right over there?" I asked, nodding to the stable. "A different summer, long ago."

She pulled back and laughed softly, smoothing a lock of hair that had fallen forward on my forehead. "What a coincidence. So did I."

I chuckled. "That same girl is going to be my last kiss," I whispered, kissing her lips. "And every kiss in between."

She smiled against my mouth. "She better be."

I spun her around and she laughed. Pulling her close again, I planted a small kiss on the side of her neck, inhaling her scent. "I haven't toasted you yet," I said, glancing at our guests laughing and conversing as some drank champagne and others, tall pints of Guinness.

Lydia hesitated before drawing back slightly and taking my face in her hands. "I won't be partaking in champagne for a while," she said, pulling her bottom lip between her teeth.

My eyes moved over her half-nervous, half-hopeful expression, understanding dawning. "You're—"

She nodded, smiling tremulously. "I think it happened at that bed and breakfast in Trim."

We'd recently spent three months traveling all over Ireland on an early honeymoon, touring old castles and monasteries, awe-inspiring natural attractions like the Cliffs of Moher, drinking in pubs, and falling in love more deeply than I'd even known possible.

As for me, I'd not only fallen in love more deeply with Lydia, but with my homeland, with the wild and ruggedly beautiful scenery. I’d felt filled with pride to show the woman I loved the splendor and history of the Emerald Isle and to call myself Irish born.

Our last week there, we'd visited the town where I'd been raised and stayed at a small bed and breakfast. It'd rained constantly and we'd spent lots of time holed up at the cozy inn, whispering words of love in the intimacy of our bed, making love over and over as it bucketed down outside the windows.

I swallowed heavily, my heart squeezing with happiness. "You're having a baby," I breathed, a smile breaking over my face.

"Is it too soon?" she asked.

"God, no," I said, pulling her close. It felt like I'd waited a lifetime for this moment. My mind whirled with the ways our lives would change, and the ways they wouldn't. "Do you still want to teach?" I asked. Her position at a local community college started in the fall, the reason we hadn't planned our trip to Ireland after our wedding.

Lydia smiled. "It's just two days a week. I still want to work at your office, too." She looked away for a moment. "And you can teach him or her Gaelic." She smiled, looking as if this thought pleased her very much.

I raised a brow. "We might keep secrets from you."

She laughed. "Then I better speed up my own lessons." 

That night, after the cake had been cut, after the celebration had ended, and when the last guests had left, I kneeled down in front of my wife, kissing her flat belly over the white silk of her nightgown, already loving the tiny life inside her. The life we'd created in love, in hope, in forgiveness.

As Lydia pulled down the shoulder straps of her gown, the thin piece of material slid to the floor, allowing me to kiss other parts. And here, on my knees before the woman I loved, I realized Father Donoghue had been right—it was a very beguiling place to be. I smiled against her skin. For I now knew that being on your knees didn't have to mean groveling, it could also mean worship.

"With my body, I thee worship," I murmured, a line from our vows. I kissed her inner thigh and she moaned and sunk to her knees, bringing her mouth to mine.

"I'm going to spend my life worshipping you," I promised her again, sliding my lips down her neck.

She brought her hands to my shoulders, leaning back and allowing me more access. "And I'm going to spend my life worshipping you," she whispered. "Now take off your clothes so I can do it properly."

I laughed, doing as she asked.

Eight months later, our daughter, Catriona Grace, named after our mothers, came screaming into the world, displaying a fierce Irish temper, my black hair, and her mother's beauty. Fionn patted me on the back, a gleam in his eye, and told me my comeuppance for all the trouble I'd put him through had just arrived in a perfect eight-pound package. I had a feeling he was right, but I was too happy to care.

That night, as Lydia slept, I cradled my baby girl in my arms and told her an Irish fairy tale my father used to tell me. I remembered him not only as the man whose weakness had destroyed him and hurt me so much, but as the man capable of love and kindness. He had loved my mam so very much, and I understood that desperate love now.
Would I fall apart as he did if I had to move to a foreign country after losing the love of my life, and having to raise two children on my own?
Looking down at my daughter, I knew the answer was no. But my father hadn't been that strong. I didn't remember him falsely, but I forgave him, and it had brought peace to that corner of my heart.

There is such a thin veil between love and hate.
I had chosen love.

When Catriona's eyes finally fluttered shut, her lashes two dark crescents on her petal-soft skin, I stared at her for a long time, marveling at everything we'd gone through to make it to this one, perfect moment.

I had set out on a mission to achieve what I had once deemed life's greatest treasures, and all along, what was most precious and powerful was
already
inside of me.

Love.

Trust.

Forgiveness.

And with these things, anything was possible. Anything at all. And there was no more beautiful proof of that than the small, beloved girl sleeping peacefully in my arms.

 

Acknowledgments

As always, my team is the wind beneath my wings!

Special thanks to my storyline editor: Angela Smith, for reading Ramsay in airports, on airplanes, and with your whole heart, wherever you were. We got to talk about this one over cocktails and it filled my soul!

Marion Archer, your insight and wisdom on all things grammatical is appreciated, but even more so, your insight and wisdom on all things human nature is valued even more. You make my stories better. You make my
characters
better. Thank you for doing it yet again with Ramsay.

Gratitude to my beta readers whose care, enthusiasm, and willingness to spend their valuable time reading my first ramblings is so very, very appreciated; Cat Bracht, Natasha Gentile, Heather Anderson, and Michelle Finkle.

Thank you to Elena Eckmeyer who not only beta'd Ramsay but read it a second and third time for grammar and consistency. I can't tell you how much this helps give me confidence in the final product. Thank you for having Brogan's back (those glasses were for you!).

Thank you to Sharon Broom for beta'ing and for proofing as well. I am so grateful for your friendship and for your support. Someday I
will
make it across the pond!

Thank you to Amy Kehl who not only beta'd Ramsay, but is the world's most dedicated pimp goddess. My appreciation knows no bounds.

Thank you to Karen Lawson whose attention to detail makes me look so good. I have unending faith in Karen's-Book-of-Knowledge and I adore you!

Gratitude and thumbs up to Nelle Obrien—you know why.

Special love and many thanks to my Irish language beta, Melissa Molloy. Thank you for reading Ramsay first and making sure I didn't have to use Google Translate in order to have my characters speak Gaelic. Without you, I'm sure I would have made a complete fool of myself and of them. Thank you for instructing me on how to swear like a proper Irish woman (even though I know
you
don't say those words), for teaching me how to speak a few important phrases of Gaelic, and most of all for making me fall so deeply in love with the Irish culture. I WILL come visit you someday—be warned. And have a pint of Guinness waiting for me. Readers, if you loved Fionn, you can thank Melissa.

Huge love to A.L. Jackson and Katy Regnery who—once again—provided hours and hours of laughs, support, advice, craziness, and friendship, while writing and promoting this book. You two are the best co-workers a girl could have. #SideEyesForever #TheGreatKind #MAK

Tina Kleuker, you make the world a better place. Not just the book world, the world in general. Thank you for all you do for me. If I listed it here, this book would cost ten dollars more to ship.

Thank you to Kimberly Brower, the best agent a writer could have. I value you so much. Thank you for being in my corner. Thank you for working tirelessly for me. And thank you for not blocking my husband's number.

To you, the reader, thank you for spending your time with my words and my characters. All of this, it is all because of you.

Thank you to Mia's Mafia. Your enthusiastic support is never taken for granted.

To all the book bloggers who love reading with a passion. Thank you for putting so much time and effort into what you do. Each review and recommendation is appreciated beyond measure.

To my husband whose love and support is beside me during the creation and release of every book, this one being no exception. Thank you for celebrating my successes, and comforting me in my defeats. Thank you for forgiving me when I need to be forgiven and for never failing to offer a sincere apology when you load the dishwasher incorrectly. Most of all, thank you for making me feel so very loved. Just like the Aries you are, your heart is pure gold and I am so very, very lucky to call you mine.

 

About the Author

Mia Sheridan is a
New York Times
,
USA Today
, and
Wall Street Journal
Bestselling author. Her passion is weaving true love stories about people destined to be together. Mia lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband. They have four children here on earth and one in heaven. In addition to Ramsay, Leo, Leo's Chance, Stinger, Archer's Voice, Becoming Calder, Finding Eden, Kyland, Grayson's Vow, and Midnight Lily are also part of the Sign of Love collection.

 

Mia can be found online at

www.MiaSheridan.com

www.facebook.com/miasheridanauthor

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