Rose stilled beneath him.
“What did you feel when I put it on your finger that day?” he asked her softly. He drew the beautiful ring out and slid it on her finger.
“Like I was about to get everything I’d ever dreamed of.”
“It’s been a hell of a year so far,” Ethan said, pushing back from the long dining room table. Since everyone had scattered to their families for Thanksgiving, he and Autumn had decided to have a second turkey dinner in early December with just their friends present to honor Cab and Rose’s engagement. As Rose looked around the table, she felt like this gathering represented a new family for her. Ethan and Autumn sat at either end of the table. Claire and Jamie sat together, as did Rob and Morgan. Hannah, Mia and Fila, who were all staying in rooms in the Big House, had joined them, too, as had Rob’s brothers. She looked forward to becoming closer to all of them, and looked forward to her springtime wedding as well. On the one hand, she hadn’t wanted to wait to get married to Cab. On the other hand, she’d attended the weddings of the other couples around this table, and she wanted what they had—an outdoor ceremony and celebration on the wide lawn of the ranch that she loved. Then she’d really feel like she’d come home.
She was excited that not only would she and Cab live here, but that they would buy into the operation as well. She wouldn’t be Autumn’s employee, after all; she’d be her partner. She loved the possibilities that presented. Jason had been right about how hard it was to make a living as an artist. While she still planned to go to school, she knew she’d be hard pressed to make her full income off her painting. With Hannah, Mia and Fila at the ranch—and very few guests at this time of year—there were plenty of hands for all the work, and she had lots of time to paint. Still, she didn’t dread the busier spring and summer season. Working with Autumn—being a part of the ranch—gave her the ability to support herself in a job she’d like while continuing to pursue a passion she loved. For the first time in her life, she felt like a true artist. The second bedroom at her cabin burst with her paints and canvasses and easels. She never felt pressured to put anything away, and no one ever intruded. Not even Cab, and he was living with her.
Along with their spring wedding would come a number of babies. Autumn was due toward the end of February, Claire in June. Morgan’s baby should arrive early in July, with Mia’s following soon afterward, although that was still a secret.
“Here’s to all of us,” Ethan said. “And those yet to be born!”
Cab looked at her significantly as they raised their glasses and she smiled back. She knew he wanted children and she wanted them, too. When any children came, she’d be ready for them. She was ready for anything with Cab by her side. It occurred to her now that all her difficulty in speaking up for herself with Jason was a symptom of being with the wrong man. Cab was every bit as strong-willed as Jason—stronger, even. But he’d learned the lesson of her need for independence quick as a wink, while Jason never quite did. She took Cab’s hand and squeezed it.
“Here’s to next year being as happy as this one,” Autumn said from the opposite end of the table. She raised a glass of sparkling grape juice and toasted them. Ethan raised his glass of champagne. Everyone else raised their glasses, too. Cab lifted his and smiled at her. As she clinked hers against it, the ring on her finger sparkled and she felt the now-familiar zing of rightness with the world.
She reached over and kissed Cab’s cheek. “I love you.”
“I love you, too.”