Standing back, I watch the two of them together and feel an ache in my chest. I always knew June would be a good mom, but seeing her with Hope, I can see up close and personal the kind of mom she’d be.

There were times when my mom was affectionate, but they were few and far between when I was younger, and when I started to become a man, those times ended all together. I couldn’t even tell you the last time I hugged a member of my family, but with June and the Maysons, I see that easy affection every time they’re around each other.

“Can we have ice cream now?” Hope asks, looking up at me once June places her on her feet.

“Get your shoes.” I smile at her, and she throws her hands up in the air, yelling, “Yay! Ice Cream!” then takes off toward the couch, where her bag is sitting.

“Are you okay?”

Looking into June’s beautiful eyes, I smile and wrap my hand around the side of her neck, tugging her closer. “Absolutely.”

“You had a strange look in your eyes a minute ago,” she says quietly, while scanning my face.

“You’re going to be an amazing mom one day,” I tell her, watching her face soften and lips part as she leans in closer, placing her hands against my chest.

“And you’re going to be an amazing dad. Hope adores you.” I couldn’t say I would be an amazing dad. I had a shit example for one, but I knew I never wanted any kids if they had to grow up like I did. “You will be,” she says softly, leaning up and kissing the underside of my jaw before turning toward the living room, stopping a few feet away and looking at me over her shoulder. “Come on. Let’s go get ice cream.”

Just like always, she has no idea how much her words effect me, how much she makes me want to be a better man.

“Are you sure you want Fruity Pebbles?” I ask, looking at Hope.

“Yep.” She smiles brightly up at me, and I look from her cute, excited smile to the frozen yogurt cup in her hand which is overflowing with strawberry, banana, chocolate, and kiwi yogurt, topped with chocolate sprinkles, gummy worms, vanilla wafers, blueberries, and Oreo cookies.

“Okay, kiddo, but I think this is the last thing that will fit in that cup,” I tell her, and she looks at me, her smile widening farther.

“That’s okay.” She lifts the cup higher, and I scoop out some of the fruity cereal and sprinkle it on top, and then lead her to the counter to pay, while June follows behind us with her own strange concoction of blueberries and peanut butter cups over birthday cake yogurt. After I pay the almost twenty dollars for the two cups of yogurt, we head out front to one of the tables and take a seat.

“Want a bite?” June asks, holding out a spoonful of her mixture toward me.

“No, thanks.” I shake my head, opening my bottle of water.

“Your loss, more for me,” she says, shoving the spoonful in her mouth and making me laugh.

“Can I be your flower girl?” Hope asks around a spoonful of yogurt, and June turns in her chair to face her. As soon as Ellie and Jax showed up to drop off Hope, June shoved her ring in their faces. Jax had clapped me on the back, while June, Ellie, and Hope all did the whole girly scream and jump around bit. I was happy June got to share this part of getting married with her family. They didn’t get to before, and I could tell it meant a lot to her to be able to share her happiness with the people she loves.

“I would love that.” June smiles then looks at me, and asks softly, “I know Mom wants me to have a big wedding, but do you want that?”

“As long as you are my wife at the end of the ceremony, I don’t really care what we do,” I tell her honestly, sitting back in the chair, and her head tilts to the side, studying me.

“Would you wear a tux?”

“If I have to.” I shrug. I hate wearing suits, but for her, I would do just about anything.

“So, you don’t really want to wear a tux?”

“What I want is for you to be my wife and to have my last name. All the other sh—” I pause looking at Hope. “All the other stuff doesn’t really matter to me, but I will say, I’m not waiting a year. If your mom and you want to plan a wedding, then you have four months to do that, before I take you to Vegas and marry you in front of Elvis.”

She rolls her eyes. “Elvis is not marrying us,” she says matter-of-factly, as Hope asks, “Who’s Elvis?”