Dedicated to my favorite avid reader, Rachel.
MEGAN FELT STRANGE SITTING here amongst all of them. It was a day she never thought would come, yet here she was, enjoying a family dinner at the Brady ranch, and being a part of this family as if it were something so natural warmed her heart. Abby was a wonderful cook and living here now, Megan hoped that she could learn how to cook a decent meal. After dinner, the women helped clean up, and Abby brought out dessert, while Anna made coffee and they returned to the dining room. The kids grew antsy sitting around, so Tom took them out to the stables to see the horses, and the rest stayed behind talking.
When Megan sat down in her chair, she noticed a small box sitting on the table in front of her. Her mind raced with eagerness to reach out and open it like a child on Christmas morning, grabbing hold of her like a vice.
“Go on, open it,” Corey said, putting his arm around her shoulder.
Megan shook her head. “No, you do it.”
Corey took the small box and turned to face her. He held it in his hand, and then lifted the top back. Megan gasped looking at the sparkling round diamond and the shiny wedding band.
“Oh, Corey, it’s beautiful.”
He pulled the ring from the box and took her left hand, sliding the bulky ring he had given her from her finger. “I really hoped you’d like it.”
He slid the band on her finger, and then the diamond ring. It fit perfectly and looked amazing on her hand. Megan couldn’t stop staring at it, admiring the brilliance and shine of the rings, amazed that they belonged to her. He reached into his pocket and pulled out another wedding band.
“Your turn,” he said, setting his band in her palm.
Megan smiled at him, snatched the ring and slipped it onto his finger. “Thank you,” she whispered.
Corey leaned in and kissed her, so softly her mind drifted away, and she forgot that others were watching them until Anna began clapping, breaking the silence in the room and that kiss that melted her heart. Megan blushed and looked down at the ring again, the realization of the last twenty-four hours sinking in.
“Now we’ve got something for the both of you,” Abby said.
Corey looked at his mother and Anna stood.
“You’re gonna love it,” Anna squealed, heading through the kitchen.
Megan and Corey got up and followed them through the house and to the staircase that led to the bedrooms. Megan imagined that she was going to get her first look at where she’d be sleeping from now on. Anna stood outside a closed door, an enormous smile adorning her face, looking more like a child in a candy store.
Abby turned to Corey. “Now before you say anything, this is your father and my wedding gift to the both of you.” She moved closer to him, staring right up at Corey. “And you were in desperate need of this,” she whispered, winking at Megan.
Megan smiled, could hardly contain the laughter that started, already guessing that they had made changes to her husband’s bedroom. Anna made a production of thrusting the door open and stepping aside so they could enter.
COREY COULDN’T BELIEVE HIS eyes when he stepped into his new bedroom, astounded by the changes, not to mention the fact that they managed to pull this off while he went to buy the rings. His parents spared no expense with the new bed, bedding, dresser, nightstands, chest of drawers, and intricate rugs that sat on each side of the bed. Even the walls adorned a fresh coat of paint in a light teal, brightening and improving the room immensely from the dreary gray he was used to seeing every day. His old room shrieked dark and depressing, but this, this held so much appeal and elegance it blew him away.
“How did you manage to pull this off?” Corey asked astounded, turning to his mother.
She smiled. “I have connections you know. Think just about everyone in this town owes me a favor or two.”
A slight laugh escaped her mouth. “And of course, Anna jumped right in helping out with the color scheme, organizing, and shopping.”
Corey turned in a circle, still in awe. His childhood room that had screamed total teenage boy was completely transformed with a more grown up and sophisticated feel to it; a room he was proud to share with his wife.
“It’s beautiful,” Megan uttered, her voice soft and filled with wonder as she gazed around, from one part of the room to the other.
“Oh, and I gave the bathroom a little touch up as well,” Anna boasted, heading to the bathroom door, her hand on the knob ready for the big reveal.
Corey took Megan’s hand and together they moved to the doorway, waiting for Anna to show them the changes. They stepped inside. The ceiling and one wall matched the teal of the bedroom. New towels hung from the towel rack, with a teal, white, and gray zigzag pattern, along with rugs and a shower curtain. Corey intended to have a discussion with his parents about his plans to build a home for himself and Megan up on the ridge but seeing this incredible renovation he started to have second thoughts.
“Thank you both.” Corey stepped forward and hugged Anna, before turning to his mother. “I cannot thank you enough, Mom.” He embraced her too, so appreciative for what she accomplished and her thoughtfulness. He never even considered what it would’ve been like bringing Megan into that old, drab, and gloomy room, the place he wouldn’t even take shelter in when things were rough.
“It was our pleasure. Besides, my new daughter-in-law couldn’t stay here in that dismal looking old room of yours. It was so depressing, I hated coming in here just to bring up the laundry.” She stepped back and looked around the room again. “Anna, have you ever thought about interior decorating? I think the rest of the house could use some sprucing up as well.”
Anna howled, the excitement of that thought lighting up her face. “Say the word. I love spending other people’s money,” she joked, though Corey knew how accurate her statement really was.
Anna and his mother left the room, heading back downstairs to rejoin the others. Corey watched from the doorway until they disappeared and then turned to Megan, reached out and pulled her snug against him. He grasped a stray strand of hair from her face, twirled it around his finger, loving the silky feel of it. When he gazed down at her, he noticed the twinkle in her eyes, the desire that stared back at him, begging for his mouth to claim hers. The second he leaned down and captured her mouth, she melted into him, her hands sliding up his torso and resting around his neck, holding him tight. He enjoyed the softness of her body pressed into his, the way she embraced him as if she couldn’t get close enough, leaving barely any room between them. Her mouth parted, deepening the kiss, giving him complete access to explore her depths.
He interrupted the kiss and looked down at her swollen mouth, wanting nothing more than to strip her out of her clothes and make love to her in their new bedroom. “Let the honeymoon begin,” he whispered, his hands cupping her chin and kissing her again, claiming his bride. He could undoubtedly become accustomed to this, staying with her, spending days just kissing her, loving her without having to ever hold back. Megan moaned as his tongue explored her mouth, the sound sweet music to his ears and propelling him forward. His hands slid down her back, pulling her closer, resting on her bottom until the sound of laughter below drifted up the stairs and he remembered they had a house full of guests. With great reluctance, Corey broke the demanding kiss, his breaths coming in rapid succession, enticed by what the rest of the night would bring them.
“Damn! I almost forgot.” He grabbed her hand and dragged her down the staircase and through the kitchen, passing his father and the kids on the way out.
“Slow down, Corey,” Megan cried, stumbling to keep up with his quick pace.
Happiness leaped through him, and he had no doubts that once she spotted his wedding present to her, his wife would be dancing on cloud nine. Together they went outside, and he led her over to his truck. He stopped, turned to her, and smiled.
“For this one, you have to close your eyes.”
Megan laughed. “What have you done now?”
“Just do it. Close your eyes.
She leaned to the side, trying to see around him, but he blocked her view. “Corey!”
He kissed her. “Close your eyes, Megan,” he whispered. “I guarantee you’ll love it, but if you don’t close your eyes then you can’t have it.”
She moaned. “Oh, all right.”
When she closed her eyes, Corey stepped behind her, rested his hand over her eyes, and moved them forward. “Now, it’s not brand new, mind you, but I think that you will love it anyway” He couldn’t wait to see her reaction and needed to be facing her. “Keep them closed. Are you ready?”
She nodded; he released her and stepped around Megan. He reached for the door, ready to unveil his big surprise.
“Open your eyes, honey.”
Her eyes fluttered open, she gasped and then yelped before her jaw dropped, looking from him to the car and back again.
“Oh my God, Corey! When did you find the time to do all of this?”
“Do you like it?” he inquired, hoping that she would love the car as much as he did.
She moved forward, reaching out to run her finger over the back of the red Chevy, each step bringing her closer to where he stood at the driver’s door.
“You shouldn’t have done this,” Megan spoke.
Corey swallowed hard. Did she not like it? Did I do something wrong? “You needed a car. As much as I love driving you to work every day, it’s time you had a vehicle of your own.”
Megan moved up beside him. “I love you,” she whispered, leaning into him, resting her head on his chest. “You are way too good to me.”
Corey grabbed her arms and stared down at her. “I could never be too good to you. All I want is for you to be happy.”
Their eyes met, and he prayed that she could be as happy as he was, hoped to give her that much. “You are happy, aren’t you?”
A beautiful smile enveloped her face, making her hazel eyes shine. She went up on her toes and planted a soft kiss on his lip. “Yes, Corey, I’m very happy.”
TWO DAYS LATER, MEGAN, Anna, and Lisa flew to New York to meet with the Grayburg family. The drastic changes in her life made it difficult to contain the swarm of emotions that ran through her nonstop, night and day. Instead of dreading waking up, she was excited to see what the day would present her, whether it be spending time with Corey, or working with Anna. Life took on a new purpose and a constant flux of excitement infused her entire life now. Anna offered to let Megan stay behind and bring Penny in her place, but Corey and Megan both agreed that she should continue working and fulfill her obligations. Since the trip would only be for a couple of days, it seemed harmless enough. Every time she looked down at her hand and saw the rings sparkle, her heart would leap in her chest, confirming how real things really were.
This was her first trip to New York, and lucky for her she didn’t have to go there alone. Megan really admired Anna and Lisa, both so accomplished on their own, and seeing how well they interacted together, she hoped that one day she would be that comfortable with them. She spent most of her time at Anna’s home office, helping her out and the few days a week she spent at the boutique proved to be rather busy. Now, John Grayburg wanted to make Anna’s Originals more accessible to the average customer by setting up a website and selling online in the United States, with the potential to go global in a year if it took off.
Lisa was against this move, liking the added business the clothing line brought through her door at the boutique and being able to contain the demand. Anna didn’t seem to care either way if she could continue working on her passion and didn’t have to be bothered with the day-to-day running on the business end of things. Megan saw perks both ways and did her best to stay out of it, though Anna did tend to ask her opinion on certain matters. She didn’t really need to accompany them on this business trip, but as Anna’s personal assistant, she would be there to help in whatever capacity she could.
A limousine awaited them at the airport, the chauffeur taking their luggage and driving them to the Grayburg’s offices in midtown. They spent the drive mostly in silence. Megan was taking in the scenery as it passed by, already intimidated by all the enormous buildings, and cluttered traffic. There was just something special about living in the country and seeing all of this she realized she could never leave her hometown, especially for a place this busy. When the limo pulled to a stop, Megan was the first to get out. She looked up at the tall structure, which seemed to go on forever and climb into the sky. Anna took her by the arm and led her into the building.
“Overwhelming, right?” she inquired.
Megan nodded. “That’s an understatement.” They moved past the reception area and to a large hall that boasted six elevators, the elaborate décor all in white and trimmed in gold. Megan couldn’t help gawking as they waited for the elevator doors to open to take them up to the thirtieth floor, taking in the upper-class feel of the building. Once the elevator doors opened at their floor, she immediately noticed the major contrast to the main entryway of the structure. Instead of the grand white and gold, their floor offices adorned a lavish light blue and gray, very regal with all the silver etchings on the walls. The Grayburg’s took over the entire floor, with multiple offices, along with conference and smaller meeting rooms.
Calvin awaited them with a warm smile and made a beeline for Lisa. “Lisa, we’re so happy you could make the trip. Was your flight all right?” he asked shaking her hand.
“Yes, thank you,” Lisa replied
“Hello Calvin, you remember Megan?”
“Anna, so good to have you back here. Yes, we met at the collection preview. I’m glad to see you are doing better after your accident.” Calvin proclaimed, focusing all his attention on Megan.
Megan rose her brow in shock that he remembered that little tidbit of information. “I healed well.”
With one hand behind his back, Calvin opened the door in a sweeping motion. “Ladies, right this way.” He escorted them to a big conference room where most of the family waited, already seated in big, black leather chairs around an enormous glass table.
“We took the liberty of ordering lunch. It should arrive shortly,” Calvin said, leading them to the three empty chairs at the center of the table.
Everyone stood, getting the greetings out of the way before they all settled back down to get the meeting started.