Page 75 of For Lila, Forever

Shortly before I moved to Summerton, I sat my parents down and explained why I was moving and filled them in on every last detail. My mother was, of course, in disbelief. I think it took her a solid week to come around and start asking questions. She didn’t want to believe that the father she knew was capable of orchestrating such a despicable arrangement, but in the end she chose to focus on her newly-minted status as a grandmother and started asking when they could come visit.

By the end of the summer that followed, Lila and I were married. It was a small ceremony, no more than twenty of our closest friends and family gathered in our backyard as we said our vows with MJ at our side and her best friend, Taylor, officiating.

Lila wore a simple white dress and a marigold wreath in her hair as a nod to the first picnic date we had on the island. When it was over, I took my bride to Italy for two full weeks while my parents stayed with MJ.

I fire up the grill on the back patio and head inside to grab the meat. As soon as Westley, Whitley, and Whitley’s husband arrive, we’ll have a barbeque dinner and do some catching up. Lila doesn’t quite have that brother-sister dynamic with the two of them yet. It took my mother three years before finally deciding to tell her sister what she knew about Ari.

She struggled with knowing it would destroy Lorelai’s life as she knew it, but she also felt Lorelai deserved to know and that Ari needed to be held accountable for his transgression.

It was hard on them at first, they did couples counseling for over a year, but in the end, Aunt Lorelai couldn’t forgive him. The hurt was too devastating and it ran too deep. It was a scab on their marriage that was never going to heal.

I head back outside to prep the grill. The sound of Benjamin’s giggles fill the air along with the chirp of birds and sunset crickets. To my left, MJ has her nose buried in a book, lying in her mom’s hammock. We ended up replacing the old one years ago for safety reasons, and I swear MJ hasn’t left it alone since. If ever we can’t find her, we know where to look.

My gorgeous wife turns to give me another wave and then she cradles her growing belly. Without a doubt, Lila is the most stunning pregnant woman I’ve seen in my life. Everything about her glows, and she radiates a sense of calm like I’ve never seen.

We’ll be welcoming a little girl this August that we plan to call Emilia, but the way everyone’s acting, you’d think we were expecting the future Queen of England. The whole reason the twins are in town is because Whitley insisted on throwing a “baby sprinkle.” She threw Benjamin’s baby shower two years back and suddenly realized she had a knack for party planning, and she’s trying to build her portfolio.

Once Emilia’s here, I plan on taking at least a month off from the law firm to bask in those first few newborn weeks and help out with MJ and Ben.

The cottage is feeling smaller by the day and a few times I’ve broached the topic of looking for something a little bigger, but Lila won’t hear it. The cottage is her favorite home, she says. The only one she ever needs. The only one she ever wants.

But I don’t mind. Home is wherever I’m with her.