But even without the degree, she’s a listener, a helper and a counselor to our family and friends. Ellie slides a cup of tea in front of Tommy, and hands a steaming mug to me.
“I think this might be it,” Tommy says. “It might really be over.”
He’s talking about Abigail Haddock. Doctor Abigail Haddock—the stunning, auburn-haired physician Tommy met in the hospital five years ago while he recovered from that gash on his head. The woman he stole a kiss from, while pretending to be delirious.
And it’s been a roller coaster ever since. A sordid tale of lust and love, hiding and seeking—both of them too fucking stubborn to admit they care for each other more than they’re willing to let on.
“Abby says she’s going on a date with that doctor she works with.” He looks at me. “We may have to take this guy out.”
I blow the steam from my mug and shrug.
Ellie frowns back and forth between us.
“No. No, there will be no taking out of anyone.”
I flash Tommy the okay sign. Ellie spots it, then smacks my arm. And I smirk, because she’s still really cute when she’s pissy.
When I hear the boys rattling the gate, I head for the stairs, leaving my wife with her elbows on the counter, prodding my best friend to tell her all about it, so she can save him.
Like she saved me.
Like we saved each other.
Despite the rain, Princess Jane’s birthday party was lively and fun. Ellie was right—Prince Henry brought the pony inside for his daughter, and they’ll probably never get the stink out of the ballroom.
The Queen sniffed and scowled, but I could tell she enjoys the antics of her offspring more than anything in the world. She’s a wily one, hides it well—but I could still read it in the twinkle of her eye, the occasional quirk of her mouth and quick nod of her head, when she thought no one was looking.
And while Princess Jane is not Her Majesty’s twin, she is her little shadow. Even at just four years old, the girl idolizes her Great-Granny, follows her, imitates her, does her best to be as royal and regal as her. The Queen takes pride in that too.
Just as Ellie chose not to go back to school, Prince Nicholas and Olivia chose not to go back to New York. Olivia’s feelings about the palace softened, and she views it more as a safety net than a cage. And with the sweetness of his young family surrounding him, Nicholas doesn’t think of his royal duties as the burden he once did. He enjoys them now, enjoys teaching his children about their lineage and gently preparing them for the royal roles they’ll one day play, if they choose. Their decision to stay in Wessco was a joyous one for Ellie and for Tommy and me. Nicholas isn’t my employer anymore—but he is my friend. Family. And that’s even better.
And Ellie and I aren’t the only ones popping out babies like it’s going out of style. In addition to five-year-olds Prince Langdon and Princess Lilliana, they added baby Theo to the mix six months ago. Along with Princess Jane, Henry and Sarah have three-year-old Prince Edward—he and my Finn are the best of friends, thick as little thieves—as well as their sweet newborn, Margaret.
Life changes us, with its twists and turns, in ways we don’t always see coming. It changes what we want, what we dream, lays blessings in our hands better than anything we could’ve imagined. These days, I no longer think about wanting to be a part of something bigger than myself. Because I already am. The home Ellie and I have, the family we’ve created—it’s the most noble, lasting and precious thing I could ever imagine. I don’t need anything more.
By the time we make it back home from the party at the palace, it’s after dark and still raining. Ellie and I give the boys a bath, then we all snuggle together on the sofa in the den, me shirtless in sleeping pants, the three of them in sweet cotton pajamas. We lie under the soft blanket, with a fire glowing in the fireplace and the wind and rain howling outside.
While Declan pounds and climbs on me like I’m his personal jungle gym, Ellie reads Finn a bedtime story—about evil dragons and a hero who rescues the damsel . . . and a damsel who rescues him back.
“And they lived happily ever after.” Ellie and Finn chime the last words together, closing the storybook.
Our oldest son gazes at his lovely mummy, like she’s the all-knowing and all-beautiful Queen of the Universe. “Is it because they’re a prince and a princess? Like Auntie Liv and Uncle Nick? Is that why they beat the dragon and get to live happily?”
Ellie rubs her nose against our son’s button one and strokes his dark hair.
“No, baby. Happily ever after isn’t just for royalty.” My darling girl looks at me with all the love and adoration a woman can have for a man.
“Happy endings are for all of us.”