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Thursday, June 30, 2022
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A Sweet Life

A Dallas Demons Bonus Scene-Kenley and Nate

“Do you think it’s wise we let Cecilia spend all day with CiCi preparing for the party?” Nate asks as we head toward CiCi and Peter’s mansion in Preston Hollow, one of Dallas’ most prestigious areas. “I don’t want our daughter ordering servers around and saying the juice boxes aren’t at the proper chill point.”

                I burst out laughing.

                “You laugh, but you can see it, can’t you?” Nate asks, his brown eyes shining.

                “I can,” I say. I rest my hand over the baby I’m carrying now. “Let’s hope Daphne will not be CiCi 3.0.”

                Nate reaches over and puts his hand over mine. “I’m so excited to meet her in February. Do you hear that, Daphne? Your daddy loves you and can’t wait to meet you. And one small thing I forgot to mention to your big sister Cecilia, but I’ll say it to you. Please don’t be like CiCi when you grow up.”

                I playfully push his hand away. “You love my mother and you know it.”

                He laughs. “I do. But that’s because she gave me you.”

                Butterflies dance in my stomach. How Nate can say these things after all this time together that elicit this response in me, I don’t know, but I’d say that’s what true love does for you.

                “I love you,” I say simply. “And I love this life we have together.”

                He reaches for my hand and lifts it to his lips. “I love you, and I love us. We’re so damn lucky I can’t believe it sometimes.”

                “I know, I feel the same,” I say, nodding.

We have built a wonderful life; one so rich and full I have to pinch myself sometimes to make sure it’s real. Nate is one of the standout players in the league and works his ass off in the off-season to make sure he stays at that level. We spend a lot of our summer in our cabin in Minnesota, often joined by our friends. Nate spends a lot of time fishing, his favorite thing to do in the offseason, and while he fishes, I work on recipes for Confection Consultations in the kitchen. Nights are spent drinking wine and eating s’mores and laying up in a hammock together gazing at the stars after Cecilia has been tucked into bed. I love our summers in Minnesota as a family, and I’m so glad we do it every year.

                My business has grown, so much so I have hired two people to work under me in Dallas, so they make client calls while I’m in Minnesota. I have rented out commercial kitchen space so now when I work, we can all cook in the same space and it is loads of fun. We have been approached about selling in boutiques in Dallas, which Nate is working on the business plans for now, to see what we need to invest in order to make that happen and keep the high-quality we both want for the brand.

                And I do mean we, as Nate loves working the business angle of Confection Consultations. He attends trade shows with me in the summer, talking to people about everything from equipment to packaging and doing all the research so for when we expand, we will do it the right way. He’s even making a job description for a manager of the business, so I can continue the creative part while letting someone with more expertise guide us as we grow.

                “Do you think Cecilia will have arranged the dessert table before you get a chance to tackle it?” Nate asks.

                I burst out laughing. “Oh, you know she has.”

                Our three-year-old daughter, Cecilia, named after her unstoppable grandmother, burst into the world early—and came home from the hospital wearing preemie clothing and weighing five pounds, fourteen ounces. God, Nate and I were terrified, she was so small and fragile, and we did nothing but panic around her that first day at home.

                Well, until my mother arrived and told us we were being ridiculous and took charge. She said Cecilia was going to be just fine, that this child was made of steel, and we needed to buck up because we were going to need it to raise her.

                God, did my mother hit the nail on the head.

                Cecilia is a mini CiCi. Now that I know my child, I understand why she arrived early. She was bored and had things to do. That is the thing with Cecilia—she is a blonde-haired whirling tornado of activity. She likes things to be right. Tidy. Arranged the way she wants them. If you don’t put Elsa back in the right place, she will correct you. The child has focus and determination and is so much like Nate on that level—I see it in the way she approaches mastering something, which makes me smile. But she has already expressed no interest in being on the ice—“too cold, Daddy” she told Nate—or cooking with me in the kitchen, as that was deemed “too messy.”

                Her favorite thing to do? I grin. Shop at NorthPark with CiCi, of course.

                Nate and I never even had to hire a sitter, as CiCi took over the role of nanny as soon as I was ready to get back to work. Often, she was tooling around in her Volvo SUV, one outfitted with booster seats for my nieces, Claire and Bella, and an infant carrier for Cecilia. Now that Claire and Bella are in school, it’s been Cecilia and CiCi—who loves nothing more than being with her namesake.

                “I don’t think Daphne will be like Cecilia,” I say aloud, rubbing my stomach. “This pregnancy has been so much easier than Cecilia’s.”

                “You were so sick with Cecilia,” Nate says, nodding. “It’s nice to see you looking so healthy with this one.”

                I smile. “I do feel good. And while Daphne kicks, it’s not the frantic movements our little tornado made. I think she’s going to be more chill, like her Daddy.”

                Nate grins. “I like the balance.”

                “Me, too.”

                We pull up in the long line of cars waiting for the valet at Peter and CiCi’s home. This holiday party is an annual tradition for the team, with a black-tie dinner for adults, but a complete Christmas party upstairs for the children in the media room, with movies, cookie decorating—which is going to be led by Amy from Confection Consultations—a hot chocolate bar, and, of course, a visit from Santa, who is played by Peter. How my mother hoodwinked him into that I don’t know, but it’s now been a tradition since they were married four years ago.

                Nate eases his car further up the line. “So before we go in, I need to do one thing,” he says, shifting his car into park.

                “What?” I ask, intrigued.

                He unhooks his seat belt and reaches into the pocket of his cashmere overcoat, retrieving a gorgeous Tiffany & Co jewelry box. “For you.”

                “For me?” I cry, delighted.

                He grins. “Yes, you. Open it.”

                I quickly excitedly untie the white ribbon and take the lid of the ring box. I pick up the black velvet box and open it. I gasp as soon as I find three skinny stacked rings. All flush with small diamonds and one in rose gold, gold, and white gold.

                “Oh, Nate, it’s gorgeous,” I say, staring down at the box. “Thank you.”

                “One from me, one from Cecilia, and one from Daphne,” he says softly. “For being our world.”

                I swallow down tears as I stare at my thoughtful husband. Then I lean forward and drop a sweet kiss on his lips. “I love you, Nate Johansson.”

                “I love you, Kenley Johansson,” he murmurs against my lips, kissing me again.

                I move back so I can look at him. “Too bad I didn’t bring your annual gift of curry chocolate for you to enjoy tonight.”

                Nate groans. “Once was enough of that. Which I did to seal the deal of you saying yes when I proposed.”

                I laugh. “I would have said yes without you eating the curry chocolate.”

                “Now you tell me.”

                As he moves to follow the traffic in line, I stare down at the beautiful present from the man who is my world, cherishing each ring and what they represent.

                What a sweet life we have indeed, I think happily.

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