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Her Secret Daughter Ruth Logan Herne 2022/8/3 13:39:37

“And what about me, Josie?” He leaned closer and feathered the lightest of kisses to her mouth, teasing. Tempting. “Do you think you could love me as much as the house, darling?”

“More.” She leaned into the circle of his arm and gazed up at him as Addie came their way again. “So much more.”

“You both love it? Does that mean we can buy it, Mom? Dad?”

Mom? Josie’s heart beat faster. Her pulse sped up. She turned around, certain Addie had misspoken.

“Do you love it, Mom?” Sea green eyes gazed up at her. “Do you love us?”

“I told her who you are on Saturday.” Jacob kept a light grip on Josie’s waist, a gentle hand of support. “I told her she had the bravest, coolest, most beautiful mom in the entire world and that God must have brought us here to Grace Haven so we could find you. And love you. So, Josie.” He tugged Addie into the circle of his other arm. “Would you do us the honor of marrying us? Of being Addie’s mom and my beautiful wife? And most likely running a crazy-busy business if my father has his way?”

She’d felt less than honorable too often in her life. To hear that phrase from Jacob, from the man she loved, a man who now knew everything about her and still loved her…

She bent and hugged her daughter.

And then lifted Addie right up into her arms and held her close while she stretched up for Jacob’s sweet kiss. “Why, yes, Mr. Weatherly, Miss Weatherly,” she stated in the most Southern of Southern drawls she could muster. “I would be right pleased to be your wife and her sweet mama. And you might be overseeing that chain of restaurants on your own from time to time, Jacob darling, because I do believe Miss Addie put in a heartfelt request for brothers and sisters like normal folks do. And if we grant her that wish…” He grinned when she stretched up for another kiss, longer this time. “…I’m going to be taking a little time off.”

“Not too much, right?” He was teasing her, and she loved it.

“Enough so our babies will always know their mom and dad love them more than anything in this world.”

Linda cleared her throat nearby. “Forget somebody?”

“Guilty.” Jacob laughed as he turned her way. “But the lady said yes, so we’re ready to make an offer, and the sooner the better. My apartment lease is up in six weeks, and it would be good to start our new lives, and the new school year, living here.”

“I’ll get things rolling right now.”

A home. A family. A husband. Her daughter. Their daughter, she realized.

Two months ago she’d lost her business, her apartment, and envied her cousin Kimberly’s dream life. And now the dream was hers, right here in Grace Haven. As Jacob took her hand to walk into their new home, Addie raced ahead, bright, happy and wholesome. And Josie realized it couldn’t possibly get better than it was right now.

“This long, trailing veil makes the look, Josie June.” Cissy Gallagher spread the ivory veil over the back of Josie’s embroidered satin gown on a sun-soaked mid-October Saturday. “This whole effect is perfect for you.” Sniff. Sniff.

“You promised you wouldn’t cry,” Josie pretended to scold, but she couldn’t. Not really.

“I know.” Cissy squared her shoulders, resolute. “If I’m walking my daughter down the aisle, I need to be stoic and strong.”

Kate thrust a handful of tissues into Cissy’s hand. “Just in case. And may I remind you that I cried at every one of my girl’s weddings. It’s a mother’s prerogative. Now, do we have something old?”

Josie pointed to a nearby table. “Grandma’s handkerchief in my emergency bag.”

“And the dress is something new. Something borrowed?”

“Kimberly’s long slip because they’re ridiculously expensive for one day.”

Her frugal choice inspired her mother’s smile. “That’s my girl.”

“And something blue,” Aunt Kate finished.

Jacob surprised her by stepping into the bride’s room with Addie as Aunt Kate spoke. “That’s our cue.”