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Authors: Pamela Sparkman

Tags: #Contemporary, #Romance

Stolen Breaths (26 page)

BOOK: Stolen Breaths
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After everyone drank to Joe’s toast he stepped down and came over to us. Joe and Cooper hugged for a long moment, then Joe spread his arms for me to slide into.

“Thank you,” I said tearfully. “That was a beautiful toast.”

“No, Lily bug. Thank
you
. You are the best thing that’s ever happened to Cooper. To all of us.”

I looked around at the people there for us and I knew that I was blessed. I smiled to myself thinking about the vows Cooper and I made to each other. It was official— Cooper and I were married. I belonged to him, and he belonged to me. Forever. Although, Cooper had owned my heart long before our wedding night.

 

“Lily?”

“Huh?”

“Did you hear what I said?” Cooper asked, squeezing my shoulders.

“I’m sorry, no I guess I didn’t. I was just thinking to myself.”

“What were you thinking about?”

I could feel his hot breath and immediately my skin broke out in chills. “About how much I love you.”

“Yeah?” Cooper looked at me with a raised brow and a smirk. “How much do you love me?”

I closed my eyes and breathed in his scent. “I love you more than flowers love the rain.”

Taking me by the hand, he pulled me to him, pressing me close against his chest. He nodded to someone and then a song began to play. Immediately, the swelling inside my chest consumed me…wholly and completely. He played

You Raised Me Up’ by Celtic Woman. I looked up at Cooper. Unshed tears threatened to spill as I watch my husband watch me. His arms, wrapped firmly around my waist, hold me in place, which is good because my legs feel boneless. We dance the first dance and I am captivated by this man who has the power to either completely destroy me or completely keep me held together. This man who, with just his smile, had the ability to take down my walls inch by inch, brick by brick, and reconstruct from the broken pieces an unbreakable shield that protected me from the things that would otherwise possess me.

I looked at the bracelet Cooper gave me.
Delicate, Bold, & Beautiful.
That’s what he saw when he looked at me then. That’s what he saw when he looks at me now. However, now, I saw it too. I was different. In small ways, small wonderful ways. I liked the girl I was then, when Cooper and I first met, but I loved the woman I had become even better.

“Wife.”

He said it like he tasted the word on his tongue and was savoring it.

“Wife,” he said again. “I get to call you my
wife
.”

The smile he wore while saying it told the story. The story of him, the story of me, the story of us. It is
our
story, the one we get to tell people when they ask how we met or when we fell in love. It is a story of sadness and heartbreak; of losing yourself in the shadows but finding yourself in the light. It is a story of losing what you wish you had never lost, but accepting that you did and allowing yourself to feel it. Even the parts you want to forget. Maybe even
especially
the parts you want to forget, because pain is something you have to go through in order to get to the other side. There are no secret doors, hidden passages, or trick walls. All you can do is bust through the middle and keep going. You’ll come out with some bruises and maybe even a few scars, but it’s the bruises and the scars that lets you know that you not only survived, but that you actually
lived
.

And that’s a story worth telling.

We danced for the first time as husband and wife. I drank it all in. Then I realized something…my daddy was right. People do drift into our lives like a feather blowing in the wind, landing right in our laps. It happened just like that for me, and there was really not an explanation for it, other than maybe fate.

Epilogue

COOPER

 

I tiptoed out of the bedroom, careful not to wake up Lil. It was still early, but I knew my sweet princess would be awake. She was an early bird, like me. We named her Sophie after my grandmother, who died shortly after Lily and I got married. Since she was a big piece to us finding each other it only seemed right that we would name our firstborn after her.

I opened her bedroom door slowly and saw her little head peek up.

“Hi, Daddy.”

“Hey there, princess. You ready to make Mommy breakfast?”

It was Mother’s Day, and Sophie and I had decided last night that we would make Lily breakfast in bed.

She threw the covers back and scooted to the edge of the bed. She jumped down and ran toward me.

“Let’s go, Daddy.”

I squatted down so Sophie could jump on my back. “Hop on, princess.” She wrapped her little arms around my neck and I held on to her legs, and together we ran down the hallway toward the kitchen while I made an airplane noise. “Hold on, princess. We’re coming in for a landing.”

Sophie giggled as I eased her down onto the countertop.

“That was fun!”

“Yeah? Maybe I’ll give you another airplane ride in a little while. Right now, we have an important job. Do you know what that is?”

She nodded her little head back and forth. “Yes, we have to make bweakfast.”

I toss my hands through her brown locks. “That’s right! What should we make?”

“Mommy likes scwambled eggs with cheese. We should make her that.”

“You’re right. She does.” I opened the refrigerator door and got out the carton of eggs, cheese and milk. “Should we make her some toast too, you think?”

She nodded her head again. “Yes. She likes toast. With butter.”

“Right. With butter.”

Sophie and I made breakfast together. I let her crack the eggs and then I tried to get out all the broken shells before pouring the eggs into the pan. When we were done we put all the food on a tray and then carefully and quietly made our way back to the bedroom to surprise Lily.

“Happy Mutters Day, Mommy!” Sophie shouted the minute I opened the door. She took a flying leap and landed on the bed.

Lily jumped and I watched the multiple expressions move across her face. First, fright, then acknowledgement, then understanding, then smiling, followed by a look so full of love and contentment for her three-year-old daughter as she reached for her mommy.

“Oh my goodness gracious, Boo, you scared me.”

Sophie giggled. “Sowwy, Mommy.”

Lily snuggled up with Sophie. “Thank you, sweetie. Did you and Daddy make me breakfast?”

“Yep. Your favowite. Scwambled eggs and toast. Oh and owange juice too.”

“Wow. I’m starving. That sounds perfect. Thank you so much, Boo!”

“You’re welcome, Mommy, but Daddy did most of it. I cwacked the eggs though.”

“Oh did you now?” Lily looked up at me and gave me that smile of hers, and I swear my heart stopped every time she looked at me like that. Every. Time.

I finally found my feet again and walked over to her, setting the tray down on her lap and bending down to give her a kiss.

“Mornin’, precious. Happy Mother’s Day.”

“Morning, baby. Thank you. You’re so sweet.”

I looked at Lily and I saw my whole world staring back at me. She was everything I ever wanted and everything I never knew I needed. Stroking her cheeks with my thumbs, I slowly touched the tip of her nose with my lips and planted a soft kiss there.

“You’re so welcome.”

I sat down beside her and took the butter knife in my hand, making sure I put a generous amount of butter on the end before picking up her toast and spreading the butter for her. I look up at her and she had a huge Cheshire cat-like grin on her face.

“What?”

“I like the way you spread butter.”

“Oh, right.” I laughed because she was blushing when she said it. “What is it that you like again? Oh, yeah, it’s my
technique
.”

“Mmm-hmm.
Definitely
your technique.”

“Mommy, try the eggs.”

Lily and I both looked at Sophie, who seemed anxious for Lily to eat the breakfast we made. Her big brown eyes were locked on her mother as she waited patiently for her to pick up her fork.

“Okay, Boo.” Lily picked up her fork and scooped up a pile of cheesy eggs and then opened her mouth wide. “Mmm, they’re so
good
!”

Sophie’s smile nearly consumed her entire face and it damn near melted my heart.

“Yay! So glad you like ‘em, Mommy. I’m gonna go find my dolly. I’ll be wight back.”

“Okay, princess.” I watched Sophie hop down off the bed and run off to find her doll. When I looked back at Lily she had a strange look on her face. “What is it?”

She brought her hand up to her mouth and then pulled out something white. “What is that?” she asked.

I moved in closer to get a better look. “Oh, sorry. That’s a piece of the eggshell. I was hoping I got them all.” We both laughed and then I moved the tray off her lap. “You don’t have to eat crunchy eggs, Lil.”

“I love my crunchy eggs.”

“I know you do. And that’s why I love you. I want another baby.”

I watched Lily’s expression change from happiness to surprise in a matter of seconds.

“Wow, one minute we’re talking about eggs and the next we’re talking about having babies.”

She wasn’t upset. I think I amuse her more than anything.

“Yes, I want another baby. Don’t you?”

“Of course I do.” She brought her hands up to touch my face and looked deep into my eyes like she was reading my soul. “I love you so much. You have no idea.”

I took both of her hands and kissed each palm. “You are my heart, my soul, and I thank God every day for you and for every day you steal my breath.” I brought her face to mine and I kissed her the way she deserves to be kissed. She should know how much I love her every single day. I explored her mouth intimately and I could feel her tremble beneath me. “You’re mine,” I told her. “Forever.”

“Tell me how much you love me,” she whispered breathlessly.

“I love you more than there are ways to show you.”

Acknowledgements

Where to start? I mean, this is the part where I thank all the people in my life that encouraged me, listened to me, and got behind me when I said I wanted to write a book. You all selflessly gave of your time and did so with enthusiasm, whether it was to read a chapter or just listen to me when self doubt decided to rear its ugly head. You were there.

So where to start? It’s hard to say, so I’ll start with ‘Thank you’. Thank you so much for believing in me. Thank you for your friendship. Thank you for your support. Thank for your encouraging words. Just. Thank you. I couldn’t have finished this book without you.

Mom, I couldn’t imagine not having you walk this journey with me. You were my rock and my biggest cheerleader. I really can’t express to you how deeply that mattered to me. I can’t convey that with words.

And Dad – yeah I’m looking at you. Thank you for being such an amazing role model. Lily’s daddy was born from my imagination, but you were my inspiration.

Finally, to my husband, who didn’t make me feel stupid or silly when I cried the day I confessed my desire to write. Yes, I cried. I don’t even know why. Maybe it was the look on your face when I admitted writing is what I want to do – what I need to do. Your eyes told me that I didn’t even need to convince you I could do it. You already believed in me. Thank you for that!

A Message from the Author

Dear Reader,

Thank you for reading my debut novel STOLEN BREATHS.

I would love to hear you thoughts. I would. Really. And I hope you consider leaving a review. And the fact that you took the time to read about Lily and Cooper means more to me than you’ll ever know.

 

Please feel free to contact me by email
[email protected]

or

 

Your love and support is appreciated and means the world to me.

Thank you.

BOOK: Stolen Breaths
6.62Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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