Leslie McAdam

Lex Martin

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD

(Be sure to read the book first!)

Extended Ending/Bonus Chapter

Drew

I’m freezing my balls off here.

A bitter wind cuts through my tuxedo fabric, and while I’m wearing three layers, it’s definitely not warm.

Side note: Long underwear doesn’t even look good on the model. Of either sex.

But I’m willing to face penile frostbite for her. Hell, I’m willing to do that and then be deep-fried so I can be melty on the inside and crunchy on the outside like a French fry, if she asked.

I’m digressing. Major league digressing because today is a big step.

Shazam got his kitty shots.

Okay, I’m kidding.

Well, no, I’m not kidding. I mean, he really did get his shots, but that’s not why today is a momentous occasion.

“Proud of you, D-bag,” Josh says, blowing hot breath on his fingertips. “I’m not gonna say I never saw this coming, because I did. You and Kendall were destined for each other ever since you belched your first drunken words to her.”

He deserves the glare I serve him. “Dude, if there is one day to never mention that meal again, it would be today.”

Reluctantly, I dust off snow from his lapel. I should let him look like he has a raging case of dandruff for bringing up that night.

Au contraire. I think it just goes to show how far you’ve come. Healthy, sober, family man, and now husband. There’s no way around it now. You’re a responsible member of society, even if you supply the world with marginally profane T-shirts.”

My irritation with him evaporates, and I grin. I am proud of me, and getting married to Kendall feels righter than anything except our two six-month-old nuggets, Andy and Evie, who are currently cocooned up with each grandma, safe and warm in the chapel.

Kendall and I decided to get married on Mount Hood in the middle of this winter wonderland. Our relationship started in the snow, and it feels symbolic for us. How something so simple—hydrogen and oxygen—can crystallize into unique beauty like the snowflake necklace KK wears. And while our relationship is uniquely ours, it works for us.

It really works for us.

Having kids, being a team with her, living our crazy-busy days together has been the best experience of my life. I can honestly say that I am a new man because of this woman, and I aim to prove that to her every single day of our marriage.

So you see, I will gladly freeze my balls off for her.

Kendall found this hidden chapel in the woods. When she saw pictures of it in the snow, she flailed wildly the way she does when she gets excited, so we had to do it here. I don’t care where we get married, so long as she’s mine. Some primal part of me likes being able to show our bond to the world.

Standing outside, though, I can see why Kendall wanted this moment. Twilight settles in, and the sky turns dusky blue-purple. Candles in white paper bags light the path through the forest to the wooden structure, where our guests wait, warm and cozy. Josh and I have been waiting outside greeting everyone, but my Ninja Turtle watch (thank you, Bee) tells me it’s time to go inside. Before I head in, I take one last look around at the expense of my nutsack.

The stained glass windows, lit from within, give the cabin a jewel-like glow. Snow hangs on the conifers, muffling the sound of excited voices. Still, the murmurs of our friends and family hang in the air, full of anticipation.

“Time to get hitched,” I say, and Josh and I go inside. My heart beats triple time in excitement because, in this moment, I know I’m the luckiest son-of-a-bitch to walk this planet. Because I’m about to marry the love of my life.

As I walk down the aisle of the dark wooden chapel to the strains of a string quartet, I barely register the garlands of greenery that Kendall and Evie spent so much time on. Or the masses of white flowers. Or even how the only light is candlelight, groups of white candles clustered everywhere.

What I notice instead are the smiles on everyone’s faces—Evie’s dad, Frankie, Kendall’s relatives. Her sister doesn’t have that haughty expression she usually sports, and even Tristan is alright in my book today. Kendall’s mom sits up front across from my parents. She’s got Eves while my mother snuggles Andy. And my Bee is all smiles next to her, at least for today. Everyone who matters to me is here. Everyone except…

On cue, the quartet changes tune. The doors open with a dusting of snowflakes. Our friends and family rise, Evie walks in, and then Kendall steps in on her dad’s arm.

My bride-to-be looks like a fairy princess.

I’m no prince. I never have been.

But she makes me feel like I am.

The truth is I don’t deserve her. I never did. I only hope I’m man enough to deserve her in the future. I’m just grateful I’m going to have the chance to prove myself to her over and over and over again.

All I see are her blue eyes, rimmed with joyful tears, and her smile so huge. For me.

A white fur cape wraps around her slim shoulders. Of course it’s faux fur, because Kendall, but it makes her seem regal. Like the queen she is. Adding to the royal air is the diamond tiara lent by my mom, which sparkles in KK’s thick, gorgeous hair.

But that dress.

Damn, woman.

Kendall’s tiny, so something huge would overwhelm her. So she’s wearing lace and sparkle that show off her gorgeous figure.

Beaming the biggest fucking smile of my life, I look down to her feet, because I know underneath all of that shimmering fabric are pristine white snow boots.

Josh elbows me, and I know he’s staring at Evie. Don’t ask me what she’s wearing, I couldn’t tell you. She’s pretty, but I only have eyes for KK.

 

While Kenster’s dress suits her, I can’t wait to peel it off her and discover every ribbon underneath, tonight.

Kendall somehow is standing next to me after I mumble something to her father. I’m too distracted by the look of love in his daughter’s eyes. She slips her fingers into my hand, wearing the ring I gave her. I grin at her like I’ve never grinned before.

I want to kiss her, but I know I need to wait my turn. So instead I lean down and whisper in her ear, “You’re so fucking beautiful. I can’t wait for you to be mine and call you my wife.”

And again, tears flood her eyes, but don’t fall.

“Shh, babe. This is our moment. Ours.”

She nods.

I take a deep breath and face Kendall’s uncle, who got ordained to marry us. We wrote our own vows, which seemed a bit surreal at the time, but now that it’s the moment to say them, I know they mean everything.

He says a few words, and then I’m up to bat.

Turning to the woman by my side, I take a moment to look at her. This radiant, confident, fantastic woman wants me. It’s surreal.

She squeezes my hand, and the words tumble out of me.

“I, Andrew Merritt, wed you, Kendall Greer, on this day. I promise to love you for the rest of my life. To share my experiences with you and take your burdens. If you’re sick, I’ll bring you ginger ale, and if you’re well, I’ll hold you and keep you warm. If you need to snuggle, I’m your man, and if you’re down, I promise to always cheer you up. If your cat gets stuck up a tree, I’ll save it—or I’ll call the fire department and have them save it. I promise to admire your ass daily. I mean, I promise to look after you daily.”

 

Everyone snickers, and my soon-to-be wife’s smile grows. “Your belief in me makes me feel like I can leap tall buildings in a single bound, conquer the dourest of boardrooms, and change the scariest of diapers single handedly.”

I pause to kiss her on the forehead because I can’t fucking help it. 

 

“I promise to guard my own health for you, to take care of my body, stay sober, healthy, and strong, so I can enjoy every moment with you and our children. And no matter what, I promise to do my best, to be the man my grandma thinks I am, the man your dad hopes I am, and the man that you deserve, who loves you with all my heart.”

I hear a sniffle and see Evie, standing behind Kendall, wiping her eyes with a handkerchief. My grandma Bee blows her nose with a dainty handkerchief.

 

And now it’s Kendall’s turn.

But before she can begin, our son gleefully chants, “Dadadada!”

We both turn toward him, and I whisper, “Hang tight, little dude. We’re locking down the mothership.”

Out of the corner of my eye, I can see Kendall’s shoulders shake with laughter.

When I face her again, her head tilts up to me, and the look of adoration in her eyes almost knocks me over.

“I, Kendall Greer, take you, Andrew Merritt, to be my husband today. I promise to give you my heart and soul—everything I am. I promise to take time for our relationship and to not insist on perfection, because what we have is our own kind of perfection. No one makes me laugh or see the silver lining like you do. No one grounds me the way you do. And no one loves our babies the way you do. You’re the best father, my best friend, and I’m so proud that I’ll be able to call you my husband. I’ll love you in good times and bad. In snowstorms and heat waves. And when breaking and entering other people’s cabins.” Everyone chuckles.

Like the Grinch, my heart swells ten times larger when she reaches up and presses her palm against my cheek. “You have all my kisses, and I promise you the rest of me. I will love you until the day I take my last breath. From this day forth, I’ll be yours. Always.”

This feeling in my heart as she says those words? It’s love. The huge swelling of love for this woman and who she is. How she fits me perfectly. How we belong together.

When we are pronounced husband and wife, I tilt her over my arm and kiss her like no one’s watching.

 

Hoots and howls erupt in the small chapel, and when we come up for air, she whispers in my ear, “Can’t wait to show you my something blue.”

And winks.

This is the first day of the rest of our lives together, and I can’t wait to spend every minute with her.