Star Promise Bonus Chapters
“I’m moving out, Mum.”
I had to believe Bridget was serious. The bag she’d dragged into my room was packed to the point of bursting.
“I’m sorry it’s come to that, Bridge,” I lamented. “We’re really going to miss you.”
Pushing aside the pile of clothes I’d just folded, she clambered onto the bed. “I’m moving out for one day,” she clarified. “To live with Jack.”
“Because Mamie’s a bit nice, isn’t she?” Her voice was tiny. “She cleaned my room.”
No amount of preparation could’ve readied us for a royal visit. Pipers Cove boasts some of the most spectacular scenery in the whole world, but Fiona’s vision was limited to the four walls of our little cottage. Her only interest was doting on us and we’d all become a little twitchy because of it.
Most kids would appreciate having their room cleaned, but not Bridget. Her cluttered, glittery grotto was styled just the way she liked it. Tidying it up was practically a crime, and Fiona Décarie was a repeat offender. After three long weeks of being spoiled rotten, Bridget had had enough.
Talking her down was pointless, but I tried. “Mamie and Papy are only here for another few days,” I reminded her. “I really think you should stay.”
“Daddy said I could go.”
“Yes,” she replied, swinging her little legs. “He said I should be free.”
Running her plans by Adam first was a stroke of genius. If anyone would’ve been in favour of a jailbreak, it was him. He’d been close to bailing for days.
I narrowed my eyes. “Free, huh?”
“Like a little pink bird,” she added, bringing her hands to her mouth. “One that goes ‘squeep, squeep, squeep.’”
“Your daddy isn’t that creative, Bridget,” I replied, sitting down beside her. “I’m sure there was no mention of squeeping.”
“He wants to stay with Jack too.” She leaned closer and quietened her tone. “Can he be free with me?”
I could cover for a four-year-old, but her twenty-seven-year-old father was going to have to suck it up and be an adult for two more days.
“Not this time, baby.” I patted her knee. “He’s caged until further notice.”
Alex picked Bridget up later that afternoon. Oblivious that it was a carefully orchestrated break for freedom, Fiona sent her on her way with a tin of burnt biscuits, and then headed back to the kitchen to make more.
I wasn’t quite sure what to do. My house had been commandeered by an overenthusiastic Betty Crocker wannabe, and without the distraction of Bridget, I was lost.
Watching the queen totter around the kitchen in four inch heels wasn’t the least bit appealing so I headed to the living room to hang out with the king.
Jean-Luc wasn’t anywhere near as difficult as Fiona. When Gabrielle gave him free run of her French DVD collection, a whole new side emerged. He was a movie buff, and probably always had been.
Entire afternoons were whittled away on the couch while he reacquainted himself with his favourite films – some of which he hadn’t watched in thirty years.
“Sit with me, Charli.” He thumped the cushion beside him. “Where is Adam?”
“Pulling boats apart in the shed,” I replied. “What are you doing?”
As if I didn’t know.
“Plein Soleil. It’s the 1960 adaptation of The Talented Mr Ripley,” he explained. “Watch it with me.”
For obvious reasons, French movie marathons were not my thing.
“I won’t understand what they’re saying,” I complained.
“I have a feeling you’ll enjoy it.” He pointed the remote at the TV. “Perhaps you’ll appreciate the scenery.”
With limited options, I flopped down on the couch, gearing up to have my mind scrambled by the language I loved but had never mastered. It still beat hanging out in the kitchen, but the break from Fiona was short-lived. Before the opening credits had finished rolling, she appeared brandishing a tray of afternoon tea.
I didn’t even know I owned a tray.
“Oh, Plein Soleil,” she beamed, carefully setting her wares down on the coffee table. “You’ll adore this film, Charli.”
She seemed as adamant as her husband. I demanded to know why.
“The leading man is Alain Delon,” she replied, reaching for the teapot. “One of the most handsome and debonair men of the era – just gorgeous.”
“And you think I’ll like him?”
“I’m certain of it, darling,” she answered, handing me a cup of tea. “My youngest son is the doppelganger of Monsieur Delon. It’s uncanny really.”
Chuckling like a demon, Jean-Luc paused the movie. “Use of the word doppelganger is somewhat extreme,” he reasoned. “And for goodness sake, don’t tell Adam. It’s a bizarre notion.”
Desperate to see Adam’s movie star twin for myself, I hijacked the remote and repeatedly hit the play button as if that would somehow hurry the process. When the film finally got under way, my whole outlook on French cinema changed.
“So what do you think, darling?” asked Fiona. “Can you see the resemblance?”
I gazed at the screen as if I needed more time to decide, which I didn’t. Clearly, the original Talented Mr Ripley was very talented, and he did look a lot like my Boy Wonder.
Intense cerulean eyes.
Floppy dark hair.
Drop dead gorgeous.
“Yeah, I can see it,” I finally conceded. “He’s lovely.” Balancing my cup on my knees, I leaned back in the cushion and let out a breathy sigh. “I think I’ve just found my new free pass.”
Fiona burst into a fit of giggles, but Jean-Luc was flummoxed.
He frowned. “What is a free pass? Not a legal term, I presume.”
For a split second, I’d forgotten whose company I was in. As punishment for letting my mouth get the better of me, I had to suffer the indignity of explaining it to him. “It’s when a husband or wife give their partner permission to stray without repercussion.” The awkward explanation made me cringe, but the king was intrigued.
“I see,” he replied, turning his attention to his wife. “Do you have a free pass, Fi?”
The poor man seemed so alarmed by the prospect that I felt compelled to clarify the rules. “It has to be someone famous.”
Fiona didn’t need a single second to think about it. “Simon Le Bon,” she announced.
“Who?” I asked, clueless.
“You must’ve heard of him,” she insisted, finally taking a seat next to her husband. “He’s a singer. Duran Duran was a huge band in the eighties.”
Hoping I looked apologetic, I shook my head. “I wasn’t around then.”
“I was,” she said wistfully. “It was a wonderful time to be young.”
My eyes drifted back to the TV. “The sixties looked pretty darn good too. Mr Ripley could attest to that.”
It should’ve been the end of the nonsensical conversation, but Jean-Luc wasn’t quite done. He leaned to the side and reached for Fiona’s hand. “You’d really leave me for a musician?” he asked quietly.
I brought my tea to my lips to hide my smile, but Fiona didn’t even try to downplay the foolish question. She spoke slowly as if reassuring a child. “I’m not leaving you, my love,” she promised. “I’m just going to spend one night with Simon. I’ll be home in the morning.”
I couldn’t hold back the laughter any more. I set my cup down on the coffee table and cackled until my sides hurt. The queen laughed too – until she cried.
The king was not impressed. “I assume I get a pass of my own?” he grumbled.
“Of course you do, darling,” Fiona assured him, dabbing her eyes with a napkin. “Anyone you like.”
Maintaining the hold on her hand, he straightened up in his seat. “Wonderful,” he replied stoically. “I’ll think about it and get back to you.”
“Get back to her about what?”
Catching the tail end of a conversation is often confusing, and Adam had walked in on a doozy.
“His choice of free pass,” I explained inadequately. “Your mum chose a rock star.”
Fiona pointed at the TV. “And Charli fancies Mr Ripley.”
Mercifully, she didn’t tell him why. Hearing that I was lusting after his movie star double would’ve sent him packing straight back to the shed for the rest of the day.
“That movie must be fifty years old, Charlotte.” Adam frowned at the screen. “Your free pass would be a very old man now.”
“C’est la vie,” said Jean-Luc, giving me a conspiratorial wink. “She still has you.”
I watched Plein Soleil to the very end. Tom Ripley might’ve looked a lot like Adam, but that’s where the similarities ended, namely because Mr Ripley was a cold-hearted killer.
“The most dangerous form of villain,” Fiona concluded. “Gorgeous and soulless.”
It wasn’t really a game changer for me. If teleporting back to 1960 was a possibility, I would have given it a crack.
“He’s ridiculously beautiful,” I said with a sigh.
But not the man for me. My French beau was no second prize, but he was just as impossible to pin down as his movie star twin. Despite our strict nine-to-five rules, Adam had been spending a stupid amount of time in the shed lately, and the reason why had nothing to do with working on boats. He was hiding from his overbearing mother, and because he was crafty about it, she was none the wiser.
It was late afternoon when I crossed paths with Adam again. As I rounded the hallway, he was coming out of the bedroom. “Just the girl I wanted to see,” he drawled. “I need your help. I think I have a splinter in my hand.”
Tutting as I pushed past him, I headed for the dresser. “You will insist on playing in that wretched shed, Adam Luc.” I grabbed a pair of tweezers from the drawer. “I warned you that you’d get hurt.”
My take on the queen’s English accent was faultless, but it was wasted on Adam. Looking absolutely pitiful, he held out his hand. “Just fix me, please.”
I leaned forward, squinting at the teeny black speck near his thumb. “Big baby,” I mumbled. “It’s tiny.”
“It is,” he agreed with a smile. “Tiny and irritating, much like my wife.”
I smirked. “Brave words considering I’m about to perform surgery on you, Adam.”
My attempt at menacing him was hopeless. His perfect smile broadened. “Be gentle.”
“I’ll try,” I mumbled, closing in on him with the tweezers.
Adam cringed as if I was about to draw blood, but the ordeal was short.
“There.” I kissed his palm. “Crisis averted.”
He brought his hand to his face, studying the invisible wound. “You just saved my life, Coccinelle,” he embellished.
“So now you owe me.”
“Is that so?”
“Big time, Adam.”
I couldn’t be sure if it was the way he dropped his head to look at me or his low tone of voice that set me on fire. Either way, I was cooked and he knew it. He reached, slipping the thin strap of my dress off my shoulder. “Name your price, Charlotte.”
“Bridget moved out this afternoon,” I told him.
“I know.” He kissed my collarbone. “I may or may not have encouraged her.”
“Well, I think we should follow her lead and make a break for it too.” I craned my neck, trying to hold myself together as his lips passed across my throat. “I miss you,” I whispered.
We hadn’t managed to steal more than a few minutes alone together in weeks, and judging by the response I was getting at that moment, I wasn’t the only one feeling the loss.
“Where do you want to go?” he asked.
“And what will we do when we get there?”
I knew this man implicitly. Tempting him across to the dark side was going to take effort. I tangled my fingers through his dark hair and pressed myself hard against him. “Anything you want,” I whispered suggestively.
“Okay then.” His casual reply was a crock. I could feel his heart beating. “Tonight we escape to somewhere special.”
“And what will we do when we get there, Adam?”
His half-dimpled smile was the best kind of wicked. “Anything I want, Charlotte.”
Dinner seemed to drag on forever that night, partly because of the horrendous food, but mostly because Bridget was absent. Everything was lighter when she was around, including the conversation. I had no interest in American politics, even when I lived there, but that was the king’s topic of choice.
Adam must’ve been bored out of his skull too. As soon as Fiona began clearing the table, he announced that he was heading back to the shed for a few hours, which could only mean that our escape plans were dead in the water.
Disappointment pinned me to my chair. “Seriously, Adam?”
“Just for a while,” he sheepishly replied. “I have a new rove punch. I’m keen to try it out.”
I had no idea what a rove punch was, nor did I care. At that moment I was fighting the urge to try out a new punch of my own, and Adam knew it. He could barely even look at me.
“I might call it a night,” I said quietly. “I’m tired.”
“Not me,” said Jean-Luc, leaning back in his chair. “I have a date with Catherine Deneuve. She might be my free pass.”
I almost groaned out loud but thought better of it. The king’s DVD addiction wasn’t hurting anyone, and nor was his wife’s henpecking. They were in holiday mode, probably for the first time in years, but I was over it and trying desperately hard not to let it show.
I stood up and grabbed an empty plate.
“Leave it, darling.” Fiona practically wrenched it from my grasp. “Sit down and relax.”
The queen meant well. The queen always meant well, but the more she gave, the more I felt like I was losing. One way or another I had to escape, and since Adam’s already low sense of adventure had been sapped by boring conversation and overcooked fish, the only way out was sleep.
Charli had the patience of a saint when it came to dealing with my parents. I checked out weeks ago but she endured every baking session, movie marathon and mandatory manicure that was thrown at her.
Running a household was novel concept to my mother. Simple chores like cooking and cleaning were so alien that they’d become her idea of fun. Within a week of being here, she’d completely taken over our house.
None of us had to lift a finger, which was great for a while, but now it was just plain irritating. I steered clear by spending every waking minute working on the boat, but there was no way out for Charli and Bridget.
We weren’t exactly being held prisoner, but taking time out needed to be carried out on the sly. The only thing worse than pissing my mother off was hurting her feelings, and that was the scenario I was determined to avoid.
My kid made her own escape, and pulled it off like a pro. Mom never suspected that her defection to the Blake camp was anything other than a spur of the moment decision, but we knew better.
Our exit would be even stealthier. Charli went to bed thinking that I’d bailed on her. Little did she know, that was all part of my plan.
It was a little after eleven when I crept down the side of the house and slid open the bedroom window. Clearly, Charli wasn’t expecting me. She was asleep.
I pushed the thin curtain aside and poked my head inside. “Hey,” I whispered loudly. “Wake up, Coccinelle.”
She sleepily mumbled something I didn’t quite catch, then switched on the bedside lamp. “Adam, what are you doing?” she grumbled.
I grinned. “Breaking you out.”
“Through the window?”
I tapped the sill with the heel of my hand. “Just like old times.”
Technically, teenaged Charli spent more time sneaking in through the windows of the cottage than out, but the result was the same. It was a simple act of crookedness that ended with her landing in my arms.
Perhaps she realised it too. Dressed in pyjamas, she leapt out of bed, slipped on her shoes and met me at the window. “Let me get a jacket.”
“You won’t need one,” I promised. “I’ll keep you warm.”
A glint of mischief flashed in her brown eyes. “Where are we going, Adam?”
“You ask a lot of questions, Mrs Décarie,” I replied. “Either you trust me or you don’t.”
When she reached for my hand, I knew I had her. And when she levered herself onto the sill without a moment of hesitation, I remembered why that made me the luckiest man on earth.
Despite the fact that the deck creaked with every step we took, we forged ahead, stopping only when we reached the lawn. When I turned back to check that the coast was clear, I realised that sneaking out was probably overkill.
The living room windows flickered with the light from the TV, and when the breeze shifted the curtains, we got an uninterrupted view of my parents curled up together on the couch.
“A change of hemisphere has been good for them.” Charli dropped her head, murmuring the words against my arm. “Don’t you think?”
To me, Mom was no different. She killed us with kindness no matter what part of the world we were in, but Dad was a different story. Wasting away hours watching movies or hanging out in Bridget’s cubbyhouse was something I never imagined him doing.
“It’s good to see Dad chill out for a minute,” I replied. “It makes Mom happy.”
He was likely to resume the role of hard-ass tyrant the second his plane touched down in New York, but for now, my mother had him right where she wanted him.
I turned to Charli, taking her face in my hands. “Thank you for letting them take over our house.” I gently kissed her. “They’re impossible to live with, but they’re happy.”
“Make me happy.” She rose to her tiptoes to meet my lips. “Get me out of here.”
Charli’s expectations were low, but not quite as low as spending the night in the shed. I slowly slid the rusted door open, mindful of the racket it made as it moved.
“The shed, Adam?” she hissed, grabbing my sleeve. “Seriously?”
I ushered her inside with a wave of my hand and a cocky expression. “You said we could go anywhere I want.”
“No,” she growled, pushing past me. “I said anything you want, and because of your sucky choice of venue, that no longer applies.”
“Relax, princess.” I flicked the switch on the wall, flooding the shed with light. “We’re not staying. I’m just getting a flashlight.”
I wasn’t an idiot. No amount of prissying up the shed was going to get me laid, but the backyard was a different story. Certain that all would be forgiven as soon as she laid eyes on my handiwork, I grabbed the flashlight and led Charli out into the dark January night.
When I was twenty-years-old, my world was remarkably black and white. I then stumbled across a girl who opened my eyes to an entirely different universe where colour and light ruled. My first attempt at joining La La land involved pitching a small tent in the backyard. To date, it was my best work and I’d spent the last few hours recreating it in the hopes of recapturing that moment.
The cool summer night had a bite to it, but the strong afternoon winds that whipped across the top of the cliff had dulled to a light breeze. When I looked to the sky and saw the lights of a million stars raining down on us, I remembered that the universe always comes to the party when magic is involved.
The night was ours for the taking.
We’d almost walked to the far corner of the yard when the beam of the flashlight finally landed on the tent.
Charli let out a small squeal of delight. “Adam,” she breathed. “We’re camping?”
I answered by switching on the short string of fairy lights that I’d stolen from Bridget’s cubbyhouse. It wasn’t the grandest of displays, but I wasn’t trying to gain the attention of anyone but my wife.
“Welcome to the new Chez Décarie,” I announced, stretching my arms wide.
Her bright smile transcended the darkness. “You did all this tonight?”
I nodded. “It took forever.”
That was a lie. Pitching a small tent, blowing up an air mattress and stringing a few lights wasn’t exactly a complex task. The hardest part was swiping the bedding from the house without being seen.
“Does it meet your criteria of somewhere special?” I asked hopefully.
She answered like only Charli could – by taking a running jump at me.
I groaned as I caught her, and when she wrapped her legs around me, I groaned again for a different reason.
“I love it.” She murmured the words against my mouth. “Let’s never go back.”
It wasn’t the most practical suggestion she’d ever come up with, but I would’ve agreed to anything at that point. “I’ll move the letterbox tomorrow,” I offered, inciting another bruising kiss.
I walked us to the tent, fumbling behind her as I searched for the zip on the door. When it finally gave way, both of us fell through the opening, landing much too hard on the mattress.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
Her quiet giggle let me know I hadn’t killed her. “Better than okay,” she replied. “This is perfect.”
She was perfect. I wanted to touch her, but I wanted to look at her more. I angled the flashlight at the roof, filling the whole tent with a dull glow that I hoped couldn’t be seen from the house.
Propping myself up on one elbow, I unashamedly stared at her. “How did I get so lucky, Charlotte?”
A slow smile crept across her beautiful face. “We’ve lost our home and been relegated to the back yard. Are you sure you’re feeling lucky?”
“I could be luckier, I suppose.” I leaned, pressing my mouth to her ear. “You could be naked.”
I felt her laugh before I heard it. “You’ve gone to all this trouble just to get me into bed?”
“Yeah, fairy lights and everything.”
Both of her hands moved to my face, holding me back as she studied my eyes. “I’ve missed you,” she whispered, poking her thumb into my cheek.
I’d missed her too, and whether she believed it or not, it had nothing to do with getting her into bed. I was content just to have her all to myself for a while.
“I have a present for you,” I said randomly.
Charli smiled impishly. “I’ve seen it before.”
“Not that.” My laugh sounded positively sinister. “Something new.” Reaching across her, I grabbed a paper bag and upended a pile of chocolate koalas onto her lap. “Your father keeps a stash under the counter at the café.”
Charli sat up, scooping them into a pile. “He hides them from me,” she replied. “Always has done.”
“Well, I found them,” I boasted. “And I risked life and limb to get them.”
“You stole them?” She hardly sounded outraged. If anything, she seemed delighted by the prospect.
“What can I say? It’s been a day of debauchery.”
Charli glanced around the small confines of the tent. “Romantic debauchery,” she clarified. “That makes it okay.”
“I have something else for you.”
“You can’t top Caramello Koalas, Adam,” she replied, sifting the pile through her hands. “They reign supreme every time.”
“It can’t hurt to hedge my bets.” The flowers I’d picked looked rough to begin with, and the few hours they’d spent laying on the tent floor had done them no favours. I presented them to her anyway.
Charli held the wilted posy in both hands. “Do you know what these are?” she asked.
I grinned. “They used to be flowers.”
She twisted the bunch in a full circle, checking it out from every angle. “They’re bellflowers,” she explained. “Bridget and I grew these from seed.”
The pride in her tone was more than warranted. Charli was no prize gardener, and Bridget was usually more of a hindrance than a help. Growing flowers from scratch was a massive achievement.
“Why did you pick them?” she asked.
I leaned, murmuring the words against her mouth. “Because I’m trying to get laid.”
“Tell me the real reason.” She leaned away from me. “You’ve never given me flowers before.”
That was because I knew better. Charli’s stance on cutting flowers had never wavered. To her, it was nothing less than an act of vandalism.
I gazed down at the withering bunch, unable to explain why I’d chosen that night to become a flower murderer. It wasn’t even a pretty plant. It was a straggly creeper with a few tiny purple blooms. “I honestly don’t know,” I finally replied.
Charli picked a flower and held it out to me. “You had no choice, Boy Wonder,” she said, rolling it between her fingers. “Bellflowers are magic.”
I fell back onto the mattress, pulling her down with me. “Tell me about bellflowers, Charlotte,” I breathed against her cheek.
She nestled in close, resting her head on my shoulder. “It’s not your average fairy story, Adam.” Her voice was quiet and thoughtful. “This one’s important.”
“Will there be a quiz later?” I teased.
“No need,” she replied, absently twisting a button on my shirt. “I doubt you’ll forget it any time soon.”
I’d been privy to some epic stories over the years, but this was the first time she’d pitched one as being unforgettable. For that reason alone, she had my undivided attention.
“It’s about an Irish girl,” she began. “Her name was Aine.”
“An Irish fairy? That’s new.”
“She wasn’t a fairy,” she corrected, throwing her leg across me. “She was human, but she was special.”
I was of the opinion that any child who believed in fairies was special, but according to Charli, Aine really deserved the title. When a small clan of fairies moved into her garden, she tried very hard to befriend them.
“Humans and fairies usually don’t gel so there were trust issues at first,” she explained. “But Aine eventually won them over.”
If the story had ended there, it would’ve been perfectly sweet. But fairy stories are rarely sweet, and poor Irish Aine’s tale was no exception.
“They hung out together at the bottom of the garden every day,” Charli continued. “And then one day, her mother found out.”
“Uh oh.” I gasped. “Cue the tragedy.”
“Aine’s mum wasn’t pleased,” she confirmed. “In fact, she was so pissed that she sent the fairies packing. The poor girl was so devastated that she locked herself in her room and cried for weeks and weeks.”
“Drama queen,” I muttered.
Charli twisted in my arms, resting her chin on my chest as she looked at me. “You’re not taking this seriously.”
“I am,” I promised, flashing her a roguish grin. “But you’re distracting me.” With that, I gathered her into my arms and pulled her on top of me, settling both hands on her hips.
“Focused now?” she asked wryly.
“Yes.” I hooked my thumbs under the waistband of her pyjama pants. “Continue.”
“Well, the fairies moved to another garden.” Her hands moved to my shirt, undoing buttons as she spoke. “But they missed Aine dreadfully.”
“Did they ever return?”
I wasn’t sure if I cared either way. Focus was definitely slipping now, and it had nothing to do with the story.
“No,” she replied, trailing her fingertips down my bare chest. “Aine’s mother made sure they could never go back.” Charli made light work of the first button on the fly of my jeans, but frustratingly went no further. “She got a cat.”
“Cats eat fairies?” It may have been the strangest question I’d ever asked her, but Charli didn’t bat an eyelid.
“They’re mortal enemies, Adam.” Her tone was grim. “We’re never getting a cat.”
“Okay, no cat.” I wrapped my arms around her, holding her in place as I sat up. “Chez Décarie will forever be a cat free zone.”
She pushed my shirt off my shoulders and kissed my neck. “I love it when you play along,” she mumbled against my skin.
Little did she know, I had absolutely no choice in the matter. As long as her body was touching mine, logic and reason didn’t exist. I didn’t even fight it any more.
Charli bunched my shirt in her hands and threw it against the wall of the tent. I didn’t share her patience when it came to undoing buttons. In one fell swoop, I lifted her pyjama top over her head and tossed it aside before taking a long moment to admire her perfect form.
Her fingers moved to my chin, tilting my head upward. “Concentrate,” she whispered. “This is important.”
I focused on her eyes. “I’m listening, Charli.”
“Well, once the fairies were banished from the garden, they had to come up with a way of getting messages to Aine.”
I grazed my fingers down the length of her arms. “I’m guessing fairy phones hadn’t been invented yet?”
“Au contraire, monsieur,” she purred, dropping her head. “That’s where the bellflowers come in.”
Charli’s French accent was horrendous, but her sexy tone made the butchering of my native language totally worthwhile. I kissed her because I couldn’t help myself, but she was determined to finish her story. She held me back with a thumb to the cheek. “The fairies discovered that if they spoke into the bell shaped bloom, and then sealed it up, they could hide messages.”
“Genius,” I whispered.
“Whenever they wanted to talk to Aine, they filled bellflowers with messages.” Her soft voice faltered as my mouth touched her skin. “Then they left them on the windowsill for her to find.”
“While the cat’s back was turned?” I asked wryly.
She tightened her grip on me, raking her fingers through my hair. “He was a lazy cat,” she breathed, craning her neck. “Aine never saw the fairies again, but they spoke every single day via the bellflowers.”
I inched my head back, buying just enough distance to look at her. After a long moment of thinking things through, I spoke the truest sentence I could conjure. “You weave the loveliest words, Charlotte.”
She flattened her palm against my chest. “You have to let me finish,” she insisted. “You’re going to want to hear the ending.”
“I’m listening,” I assured her.
“There’s a reason you picked the flowers.” Charli grabbed the wilted posy and plucked one of the purple blooms. “To this day, any time a fairy has a message for a human, she uses bellflowers.”
I took the flower from her and tucked it behind her ear. “You think I have voicemail from the fairy realm?” I teased.
Gifting me a tiny smile, she shrugged. “Maybe.”
I wasn’t buying it. As much as I tried to shake it off, logic was creeping back in. “Why would a fairy be sending me a message?” I asked, combing a stray wisp of hair from her face. “And how can you be sure we even have fairies in our garden?”
She smiled, brighter this time. “It is frightfully difficult to know much about the fairies,” she recited in her best pantomime voice. “And almost the only thing for certain is that there are fairies wherever there are children.”
Peter Pan quotes were the most crippling form of warfare when it came to justifying all things La La. Trying to discredit her theory was hopeless, and I ended up sounding like a two-bit lawyer when I tried.
“Bridget isn’t home tonight,” I reminded her. “There are no children here.”
It was the weakest of arguments, but it was all I could come up with.
“That’s not technically true, Adam,” she hinted. “And Alouette would be pissed if she knew you were ignoring her messages.”
The mere mention of Alouette sent my thoughts spinning in a direction I’d been hoping to travel for months. I tried hard not to jump to conclusions, but it was impossible. Slowing my roll, I asked for clarification. “Alouette from Alaska?”
Her smile was blinding. “The one and only.”
“Alouette who delivers the souls of babies to their fathers before they’re born?”
“There’s a baby here?” I choked. “We’re pregnant?”
“Yes,” she whispered. “Job well done, Adam.”
There were a million things I wanted to say, but no words came. I also wanted to kiss her to within an inch of her life, but couldn’t find the coordination I needed to do it. Instead, I just held her, staring into her eyes as I imagined how our lives might play out once our little family of three became four.
“What are you thinking?” she asked finally.
Smiling, I took her hand in mine and held it to my heart. “I think we’re going to need a bigger tent.”
Charli’s sweet laugh travelled right through me, wrapping neatly around my bones. “What are you really thinking?” she asked quietly.
“How lucky I am to have you,” I said with reverence. “You’ve given me everything.”
Charli had built me from the ground up, never once losing sight of my potential, even when it was hidden. My heart was already full to the point of bursting, but she’d just added another piece. The construction of Adam Décarie was still ongoing, and there were no words to explain how blessed that made me feel.
Fearing I’d botch it if I tried to explain, I summed it all up in one tight sentence. “You are the love of my life, Charlotte Décarie.”
Smiling like she’d won something valuable, she took the bellflower from behind her ear and handed it to me. “Message received, Boy Wonder.”