Page 94 of I Promise You

EpilogueA few years later…I leave my agent’s office and pull out of the parking lot in downtown Denver and hit the highway, pointing Serena’s white Range Rover to our place in the Rocky Mountains outside Breckinridge, Colorado. We have a spacious penthouse in the city, but during the off-season we like the peace that comes with crisp air and majestic mountain views. The historic town is perfect, quaint restaurants, locally owned galleries, yoga and dance studios, small bars where musicians play, and snow skiing in the winter.

After I clear the traffic of the city, I pull over at the grocery store. I put on my aviators and grab an old cowboy hat. I want to get in and get out without being recognized.

After the Waylon Tigers won the Sugar Bowl, I was drafted to the Broncos that following April. We weren’t national champs again, but I played some of my best football that year. Sinclair did too.

Once in Denver, I was named the backup, but after the starter suffered a shoulder injury and retired, I stepped up and filled those shoes. This past year we won the AFC West conference and maybe next year, the Super Bowl. I’m at the top of my game and honing my skills as a leader.

Inside the store, I keep my head dipped and move through the aisles, grabbing steaks for dinner, beer, arthritis cream for Nana, cookies for Serena.

A text comes in from Romy. Thanks for letting me hang out at this kickass house, bro. BTW, I need tampons and Aleve. A real man wouldn’t have any qualms about purchasing them. She adds several laughing/crying emojis. FYI, ditch the steaks. Serena made other plans.

Is she cooking? I mentioned the steaks before I drove into the city, but maybe she’s changed her mind, which is weird. She doesn’t like to cook. Usually I make our meals at the cabin, mostly on the grill.

Romy doesn’t reply.

Serena and I were engaged in May after we graduated, then married a year later after my first season in Denver. Contrary to my dream, I didn’t ask her at a football game. I wanted it to be private. I asked her in the meadow as we lay on a blanket with the stars above us. My hands shook as I opened the black box and presented the three-carat diamond to her. My dad helped me pick it out when we were in New York for the draft.

I was nervous as hell. Was the ring too flashy? Was she ready? Was I rushing? I tend to do that, I do, but when I know something, I know. She was my dream since freshman year, and yeah, I wanted a ring on it.

I stayed up late the night before practicing the proposal. I’d already asked Julian and Romy and Nana if I could have her hand, and I knew she loved me, but what if she said no?

She gaped at me when I kneeled at her feet and went for it… Will you, um, you know, be my mine forever? Will you take on this world with me? I want to be your family. I want to wake up every day and see you next to me...

Yes, yes, yes, she told me, jumping up and down.

She picked out our penthouse in Denver and moved in right before summer camp. With her graduate degree done, she spent her time writing her short stories and selling them to various magazines and online publishers. Last year, she picked up teaching dance part time.

I bought Nana a condo on the floor below us. At first, she protested at the gift, but with my promise of great grandkids in the future and with Romy enrolling in Colorado University, she came around. You’re a keeper, she told me. Julian moved into their house in Magnolia, and we see him on the holidays.

Our wedding took place in a chapel in Denver, and we kept it small. Marley was our flower girl, Dad was my best man, and Romy was Serena’s maid of honor. My mom broke off her engagement and showed up with a new man in tow.

Simply put, it was the happiest day of my freaking life.

She took a chance on me, and I’m going to make damn sure she never regrets it.

An hour later, I pull in the driveway of our three-story, eight-thousand-square-foot A-frame house at the base of the mountains. There are two balconies at the back plus a glassed-in porch with a fireplace to enjoy the cold days. The best feature of the property is a fast-running mountain stream behind the house. Most mornings, we sit on the balcony, drink coffee, and talk.

I walk in the door and the place is quiet. Romy appears in the hallway, and I toss her the bag with her things in them. Her hair is cut chin length, a wheat-colored blonde this year. She gives me a fist bump and a blinding smile. “Thanks. Did it freak you out?”

Tags: Ilsa Madden-Mills Romance