Stanton Bliss

The epilogue to the Stanton Series following Joshua and Natasha.

We've changed. Darker, damaged and unable to conform. My husband Joshua is dealing with the past the best that he can.....as am I.

Nobody else can understand the language we speak. The trauma we have been through.

But with the pain comes pleasure and happiness is our gift.

#returntopoundtown

Read the first chapter
Chapter 1

Natasha

Regrets for every single minute of every hour that I sat locked in that room, I had a new regret. Regret that I didn’t love him sooner. Regret that I had wasted so much time
being insecure and unsure. Regret that I blamed myself so hard for my beloved father’s death. But when it all comes down to it, the only person who feels the pain of my regrets is me. Nobody gives a flying fuck how insecure I am on the inside, so why did I put myself through it for so long?
I’ve been given a second chance at my life.
A do-over.
I’m going to take the bastard by both horns and ride it home hard, without fear, without hesitation and without one more single regret.
Look out world. Here I come!

We arrived in Thailand this afternoon and I am in Kamala surrounded by my loved ones. The sun is setting over the horizon and the staff are lighting the candles that are scattered throughout the garden. Joshua and his family are here along with Adrian, Nicholas and Abbie, and my family. We are sitting around the pool area of the main house after enjoying a beautiful meal, it’s been a big day… a big month, actually. Exhausted doesn’t even come close to how I’m feeling, but the very last thing that I want to do is go to bed. I don’t want to miss one single second with these beautiful people. I’ve missed them all so much and family has never been more important. Didge, Abbie and I are in the pool and we have
swam to the other end to talk in private.
On the steps of the pool, in the darkness, we talk quietly. We haven’t had a moment to ourselves since I was found two days ago.
“I’ve missed you two,” I breathe. I can’t believe I’m actually here with them.
Abbie smiles and wraps her arms around Bridge and I as we sit on either side of her.
“Tell me, what exactly have I missed?” I whisper.
“A lot of crying.”
I smile sadly.
“Nothing has happened since you left, Tash. Our whole world stopped.”
My eyes flick to my beautiful man who is sitting opposite Nicholas on a deckchair at the other end of the pool. He is writing in a notepad the requirements for tomorrow’s wedding. Glancing up, he catches me watching him and smiles sexily.
“How was Joshua?”
The girls exchange looks.
“When I was missing and he thought I was dead, how was he?” I ask again.
“He was…” Abbie screws up her face and stops to articulate her wording.
“I can imagine he was a raging lunatic,” I add as my eyes flick back to him.
The girls both exchange looks and shake their head. “No.”
I frown. “What do you mean?”
“He was different.”
“How so?”
“He withdrew and became a recluse.”
My heart drops and my eyes find him again as I deepen my frown.
“He was too broken to be angry,” Bridget whispers sadly.
“Oh.” I sit and think for a moment. “He wasn’t going berserk like a maniac?” I ask. I don’t believe this – I thought he would have been raging like a bull.
The girls both shake their heads. “No, he would have been easier to handle if he acted how we all thought he was going to.”
“He hardly spoke,” Abbie whispers.
I sigh. My beautiful man has been through so much.
“He just gave up,” Bridget says sadly.
We all sit and look straight ahead, lost in our own thoughts.
“Adrian was probably the strongest.”
“Adrian?” I smirk. This is unexpected.
The girls both smile. “He was awesome. He ran the company and organised the press releases, not to mention how much he was trying to keep everyone calm.”
I smile and our eyes flick to Adrian as he sits with Mum. He is being all animated, telling her a story, and she is laughing out loud.
“Is he back with Nicholas?” I ask.
“No, Nicholas just came to help him.”
My eyes drop to the dark water. God, they have all been through so much. I need to talk to Joshua. “How did Adrian and Cameron find me?” I forgot to ask this question before now.
“It was Adrian. He heard Amelie call you Cinderella.”
My mouth drops open in shock. “You’re kidding?”
Bridget shakes her head. “Nope, she was at the jail visiting Joshua and she said something in the waiting room about Joshua never being suited to Cinderella. Adrian caught on and then they all followed her to the house.”
I put my hand over my mouth. “Oh my God.” I frown, my stupid plan actually worked.
“They staked out her house and she was walking around in the rain with a gun looking for you in the forest.”
My stomach turns at the memory of the heavy rain on the tin roof, that horrific sound will haunt me forever. A vision of her dead body lying in the rain flashes through my mind and a cold shiver runs through me.
“It was like fucking James Bond shit.” Abbie shakes her head in disbelief.
“More like Quentin Tarantino,” I whisper.
Abbie nods. “That, too.”
“How often did Amelie visit Joshua in prison?” I ask. I bet she was trying to slime her way in. How dare she visit him in prison when it was her that put him there?
Abbie shrugs. “I think that was the first time. She didn’t even get to see him because she got a call and ran out, that’s when the boys followed her back to the house where you were being kept.”
I narrow my eyes deep in thought. “So, she got a call and ran out?”
“I think so,” Sighs Bridget.
“It must have been when they realised I had escaped.”
The girls both nod in agreement. “Probably.”
Holy hell, what a fuck up. My mind drifts to Amelie. On one hand, I feel bad for what I have done, and yet I feel a venom in my bloodstream that I have never had before. How could she have done this to Joshua? Her love and my love for him were so different. I gave him away to give him time to pursue her because I thought that’s what would make him really happy, and yet she would rather he be dead than with me.
He could have died. I nearly did die. My eyes drift down to the horrible, thick purple scar on my wrist.
I hate her. I hate every damn thing about that poisonous bitch. My gaze wanders to Joshua again, and when our eyes meet, he seems to read my mind, and frowns in question.
I shake my head softly in a dismissive gesture and smile.
“I’m going to go see my man,” I whisper.
I swim up to his end of the pool along with the girls. I’m looking forward to getting him to myself tonight. Mum and Bridget have been by my side constantly since my release, understandably scared to take their eyes off of me.
“You ready for bed, Presh?” he asks.
I smile. That name will never get old.
“Hey. You two are not supposed to be sleeping together on the night before the wedding,” Bridget announces.
Joshua looks at her deadpan. “Yeah, well, that’s not happening.”
I nod my weary head and swim over to the stairs. Joshua retrieves a towel and wraps me in it protectively as I climb out. I kiss his chest through his t-shirt. It’s so damn good to be home and in his arms.
“Take me to bed, my Lamborghini,” I whisper.
“We’re turning in,” Joshua announces to our families.
“Its only ten.” Cameron frowns as he stands on the pool stairs. We are obviously interrupting his impending swim.
“Yes, so? Go and swim in your pool and get out of mine.” Joshua yawns.
Everyone smiles and stands. “See you tomorrow. Bye.” They all call out as they start to head back to their rooms. The girls are staying in the house next door, the boys in the one after that, and then the bodyguards in the end house. Margaret and Robert are staying
in a luxury resort down the hill.
Suddenly alone with my man, I stand with my arms wrapped around him and I look up at his beautiful face.
He smiles and kisses me gently on the lips. “You ready for bed,
my bride to be?”
“Mrs. Stanton?” I whisper. Is this real? Are we really getting married tomorrow?
He smiles the sexiest damn smile I have ever seen.
“Sounds old.” I smirk.
“Sounds good,” he whispers. “And old.”
I narrow my eyes. “You are older than me, you do remember that don’t you, Mr. Stanton?”
He kisses me again, and his tongue sweeps gently through my open mouth, making me feel a throb that only he can ever instil.
“I feel ninety,” he whispers.
I giggle. “Well, you best get Cam to write you a script for Viagra, because I am feeling seventeen and dangerous.”

I wake to the bed bouncing, and force myself to pry my heavy eyelids open. Mum, Bridget and Abbie are sitting on the end of the bed with stupid grins on their faces.
“Wake up, sleepy head.” Mum smiles.
I sit up in a rush as I remember what today is. Holy crap.
“Where’s Joshua?” I stammer.
Bridget rolls her eyes, adding in a soft shake of her head. “He’s on wedding crack or something.”
I smile broadly. “What’s he doing?”
“He has been ordering everyone around like a lunatic since 6:00 a.m. this morning. He has poor Cameron up a tree stringing fairy lights, Adrian in charge of flowers, and Nicholas making playlists. Ben is in charge of the tables and chairs, and he has Brock
in charge of the food.
Abbie rolls her eyes. “And that’s just stupid because we all know that Brock will just eat all of the food.”
I smirk. “Sounds dreadful.”
“It’s good to be a girl today.” Mum smiles
“Where’s Max?”
“He is helping Ben.”
I flop back down onto my pillow. “This is, like, my favourite day ever.” I smile in delight. “What time are we getting married?”
“Five o’clock.”
“On the ledge, right?”
“Yes.”
“What do they want us to do?” I ask.
“Nothing. Just show up, I imagine.” Mum smirks.
I smile broadly before jumping out of bed and running to the bathroom as the girls lay on my bed. This is it! This is the day I have been waiting for forever. I can hardly contain my excitement. That is, until I take a long, hard look at myself in the mirror. Holy crap, this just won’t do. I look like death and I’m pasty white. I march back out to the girls and put my hand on my hip in disgust.
“That’s it, we are going to the beach.”
The girls all look at me like I’ve gone completely mad. “You want to go the beach? Today?”
“I look like freaking Casper the Ghost. I need some sun, stat.”
Abbie bites her bottom lip to stifle her smile. “There’s my girl. I’ve missed my drama queen.”
I smile, take out my phone, dial my favourite number – Lambo – and he answers first ring. A rush of excitement runs through me that I can just ring him whenever I want now.
“Good morning, my Presh.”
I smile as an overwhelming feeling of love fills me. “Good morning.”
“Are you ok?” he asks gently.
“Perfect,” I breathe. “Do you want me to do anything?” I ask.
“No. I’ve got it. Spend the day pampering yourself. Get a massage or whatever girls do on their wedding day.”
My heart melts. “You know I love you, right?”
I can hear him smile through the phone. “You better.”
“I want to go to the beach,” I announce.
“What?”
“I want to get some sun.”
He hesitates. “Ah, Presh, I have a lot to do and I don’t want to be worrying about you being safe.”
“Joshua.”
“Yes.” He sighs.
“I’m going to go to the beach with the girls and I will take Max.” My eyes flicker to the girls who are all smirking as they listen.
He hesitates again as he thinks, and I know he wants to stop me, but also doesn’t want to upset me today.
“Tash,” he whispers.
“Joshua, I have been locked in a room for a really long time and I want to feel the sun and salt on my skin on my wedding day. We will only be three hours.”
I hear him inhale deeply in frustration as he thinks for a moment. “Fine.” He sighs. “But you are taking Brock, Max and Peter.”
I smile. That was easier than I thought it would be. “Ok.”
“Three hours.”
“Yes, boss.”
“I mean it, or I’m coming to get you myself.”
“I will meet you on the ledge at five?” I ask hopefully.
I feel him smile again. “Try and stop me.”

Joshua

I hang up the phone and roll my eyes. Fucking hell. The beach! I walk over to the trees that Cameron, Brock and Max are discussing.
“They should go from this one to this one.” Cameron points to a branch. “Not that one to this one.”
Brock shakes his head in disgust as he stands looking up at the trees with both hands on his hips. “You are an idiot. They don’t go that way. When it’s dark, it is supposed to be all over, not in a line. It isn’t a fucking Christmas tree, you know.”
Max rolls his eyes in frustration at Cameron who obviously has no idea what he is talking about.
“I did this for the engagement and I nailed it. I know what I’m doing,” Cameron replies dryly.
I smirk at the shit they are carrying on with. “So, Natasha wants to go to the beach.”
Max’s eyes shoot up to me, and he frowns.
I nod. “I know.”
“Tell her we are too fucking busy to play Gidget for fucks sake!”
Cameron snaps in frustration as he begins to pull the lights from the box.
“Brock and Max can you take her?” I reply.
Brock smiles broadly and high-fives Max. “We are so out of here.”
“Thank God,” Max mutters.
Cameron looks at me deadpan. “Oh, great, so I’m doing all this fucking shit on my own now?”
“No, Murph and I are here to help.” I smirk.
“Where is Ben?” Cameron snaps.
“He’s going, too.”
Brock and Max snicker under their breaths.
“This is Bullshit. Why aren’t Abbie and Didge helping us with this crap?”
“They are going to the beach.”
Cameron shakes his head as he starts to re-climb the tree. “If I ever get married, Stan, you are going to pay, and I’m going to the beach while you do all this shit.”
I smile and turn my attention to Brock. “Don’t let her out of your sight.”
“I won’t.”
“Not for even a second,” I warn.
“I know, I know. Relax.”
Brock and I have somehow turned a corner, It turns out Tash was right and perhaps we do have a lot in common after all. He was there for me in my darkest of days, even visiting me in prison. His support means a lot to Tash, therefore it means a lot to me,
too. I turn my attention to Max.
“Max?”
His eyes meet mine. “Yes.”
“You won’t be working tonight.”
His face falls. “Oh,” he mutters, sounding dejected.
“I want you at the wedding as a guest, a friend of ours.”
He drops his head and smiles at the ground.
“And I also want to thank you.”
He looks up and frowns. “For what?”
“For staying by Natasha’s side when she needed you the most.”
He smiles a relieved smile and Ben slaps him on the back.
“Getting pathetic now, Stanton?” Brock questions, as he raises a brow.
I look at him straight faced “Don’t make me hurt you, Marx.”
“As if.” He shakes his head as he and Max start to walk up the stone stairs that hug the cliff.
“Three hours!” I call after them.
“Yes,” They both reply in a bored voice.
“And don’t let her out of your sight,” I repeat.
They ignore me and keep walking.
My attention turns to Cameron who is now up the ladder, he looks down at me and shakes his head. “There is no way in Hell they will be back in three hours.”
I shake my head in defeat. “Tell me something I don’t already know.”

I slowly button up my white, crisp shirt as I look in the mirror. Its my wedding day.
A day I thought had been stolen forever.
She’s back.
I drop my head and smile.
My girl is back, along with my appetite, my sex drive and my freedom.
“Stop fucking smiling. You’re getting all creepy?” Cameron tuts from his place next to me as he pulls up his pants.
I throw him a wink and smile broadly again.
“Photo time,” Murph states as he starts to snap photos with his camera. Cameron grabs his crotch and sticks out his tongue while Ben smirks from his place at the end of the bed.
Adrian drops the camera. “I don’t have my magnifying glass on the camera. You idiot. Put it away,” he replies dryly.
Cameron shrugs. “Like you would need to zoom to see this lizard. It’s a beast.” He grabs his crotch again and shakes it.
I roll my eyes as Adrian screws up his face in disgust. “God, you’re an animal. Who calls their dick a Lizard beast?”
Cameron shrugs again. “If the shoe fits.”
“You’re a tool,” Ben mutters under his breath, shaking his head.
Cameron rearranges his tie in the mirror next to me while I pull up my pants.
“You need to hurry,” Adrian snaps. He has been ready for over an hour. We are in the second house and Natasha and the girls are in the main house.
I do up my fly and the pants fall straight down over my hips, causing Adrian’s face falls in horror. He holds his hands up in a stop sign. “Oh my fucking God! Tell me those pants fit you?”
“Shit.” I pull them up again and they fall straight back down.
I’ve lost a lot of weight.
Adrian puts both of his hands on his cheeks in horror as his eyes widen. “Do we have a fucking belt?”
I turn and walk into Adrian’s wardrobe and look around.
“I don’t have one!” Adrian shrieks as his eyes flicker around to the boys. “Do you have one? Cameron, Ben, does anyone have a belt?”
I shrug. “Maybe in my wardrobe in the other house, I don’t know. I’m usually in board shorts the whole time I’m here. I’ve never needed one before.”
Adrian runs his hands through his hair in a panic before he looks at his watch. “This is a disaster. Ben, can you go next door and find us a belt, please?” He looks like he’s about to hyperventilate and Ben disappears out of the room.
Dad walks into the room with Wilson and Scott, handing us all a beer.
“A toast.” He smiles.
My heart rate instantly rises and I’m so grateful that I have him here with me today.
“To the unbreakable Stantons,” he announces proudly.
Four words are all it takes to bring a lump to my throat. Four small words that mean more to me than he will ever know. I recited them repeatedly to myself in prison on the day Natasha and I were originally supposed to get married.
They saved my life.
“To the unbreakable Stantons,” we echo as we clink our bottles together.
I smile as he wraps his arms around me and gives me a strong hug and a kiss on the cheek.
“I’m proud of you, son.”
I nod and smile as emotion steals my words.
Ben re-enters the room and shakes his head.
Adrian’s eyes widen in horror. “What?” he snaps.
“No belt.”
“This is my worst nightmare,” he whispers.
I smile at the floor and raise a brow. Give me a break. Not having a belt is far from my nightmares.

My eyes glance up to the stone staircase for the hundredth time as my heart hammers in my chest.
“She changed her mind,” Cameron whispers. “Smart woman.
She’s currently on her way to Ibiza.”
I throw him a glare and Adrian chuckles.
Eight years and it all comes down to this – this moment in time where we become one.
A united family.
A broad smile instantly crosses my face as the thought runs through my mind.
I inhale deeply. What the fuck is taking them so long? I turn back to Ben who is sitting in the front row. “What time did they get back from the beach?” I frown.
Max smirks. “Relax. She’s fine. I checked on her half an hour ago. She’s ready to go.”
I nod nervously and blow out a breath. Ok, relax. I shake my head and look at the ground as my nerves, once again, steal my rationality.
“Here they come,” Adrian whispers and my eyes instantly flick to the top of the stone staircase. I see them. First Abbie, then Bridget.
I feel like I can’t breathe.
A smile spreads across my face as my girl comes into focus on Brock’s arm, the wind whipping through her hair.
She looks gorgeous… and not because she is wearing a sexier than hell wedding dress – although, that could have a lot to do with it.
It’s her smile.
Her strength.
Her courage, and the love that has shone through to me since she has been found.
I always knew she was strong, but I had no idea to what depth.
Her eyes lock on mine as she walks down the stairs like a rock star without one single hesitation.
God, I love this woman.
She is wearing a fitted, white satin dress, and her hair is downand full with a large white flower tucked behind one ear. I have never seen anything more beautiful and I feel myself harden as a wave of emotion hits me like a tsunami. Fuck… not now.
I have to stop myself from running up the stairs to greet her, to pull her down to me. Hurry up!
I watch intently with my heart in my throat and, after what seems like an eternity, she arrives at the bottom of the staircase before making her way to the alter on our ledge.
“Hello.” She smiles softly.
“Hello,” I whisper, and before I can stop myself, I have her in my arms and I’m kissing her gently on the lips. I haven’t seen her all day and I’ve missed her so desperately. Tash closes her eyes and kisses me back, then again, and before either of us know what’s happening, we are kissing passionately and our friends are all laughing.
We eventually pull apart from each other in realization of what we are doing.
Fucking hell, reign it in, Stanton.
There is a time and a place, and at the alter, on your wedding day, with everyone watching isn’t it.
The memory of us making out on the dance floor, that first night at Scott’s wedding, comes to the forefront of my mind, and I have to bite my bottom lip to hold back my grin
What is it about us and weddings?
The minister moves forward and smiles warmly. “Can you take each others hands please?”
My eyes flick to the minister, Father Joseph. I flew him in from L.A. yesterday. I had to be positive that the marriage was legal, and the only way I could ensure that was to get him here myself.
Natasha and I face each other and she giggles loudly.
“Holy crap. We are getting married!” she exclaims excitedly as she lifts her flower bouquet in the air. Everyone bursts into laughter and I melt as my eyes hold hers. That is such a Natasha thing to say.
And then I’m transfixed.
I watch my beautiful Natasha declare her love with her sacred wedding vows and I watch as she slides the gold band on my finger. I, in return declare mine vows to her and slide the gold band onto her finger.
She slowly leans forward and tenderly places her hand on my cheek and kisses me, sweeter than anything I have ever experienced, longed for with all of my heart. I feel myself well up and blink to stop myself from crying. The love on the ledge, both between us and from our families, is so strong that I’m sure it could be felt from another galaxy, it’s such a tangible force. I pull out of her kiss and glance around to see everyone seems to be feeling the same way, all of them wiping their eyes, overcome with emotion. Even Ben has a tear in his eye. Nothing has ever felt so right and so damn well fucking deserved. This is a fight the whole family has fought.
Fought and won.
The victors.
The victor is love.
I desperately wish I could bottle this perfect moment in time so I could replay it again and again throughout my life.
“I now pronounce you husband and wife.”
Through teary eyes Natasha laughs, leans closer, and tenderly cups my face.
“Kiss me, my husband.”
Our lips touch and I am lost.

Natasha

The weather has been flawless, just like the night. It’s still and just coming on to eight o’clock. Joshua and I have been married for approximately three fabulous hours and I can’t wipe the stupid smile from my face. A large, long table sits underneath the tree, covered in white linen tablecloths. Overhead branches are adorned with fairy lights, while candles and beautiful flowers embellish the table. We are drinking the most ridiculously expensive champagne known to man and everyone is laughing and chatting loudly. Large lanterns are lit around the perimeter, and the music is being piped out to the entire space. It’s magical, to say the least. Never, in my wildest of wild dreams, could I have imagined that I would get married in such a heavenly place. We have just eaten a beautiful meal and now we’re all mingling and laughing. This is the most relaxed we have both been for a very long time, and I feel a deep, sated happiness, relieved that we have finally done it.
We are legally married.
I keep catching Joshua looking at the ring on his hand while talking as if not believing it has actually happened. I know how he feels. I can hardly believe it myself.
The waitresses pour everyone another champagne and Joshua stands at the table. Cameron taps the side of his glass with his fork and everyone takes their seat back at their designated spaces. I sit next to Joshua and he places his hand on my shoulder affectionately.
The table falls silent as they wait for his speech, and he seemingly pulls himself together, as if preparing to be serious.
He smiles and swallows nervously. “I would like to thank everyone for coming to celebrate with us.” He raises his glass as if finished and everyone laughs. Oh, he’s nervous. My heart melts for my beautiful man and I grab his hand in a reassuring gesture.
He hesitates as his face falls solemn and he drops his head. He looks to the empty place next to my mum and the candle that’s burning there. My dad’s empty place at the table. My eyes instantly cloud over.
“John.” He hesitates again and the table falls deathly silent.
“There.” His voice cracks and he stops. A tear falls onto my cheek and I squeeze his hand just that little bit harder.
“There isn’t a day goes by when you are not in my thoughts.”
Mum drops her head in sadness but Bridget grabs her hand.
“I go over it again and again. Wondering if I did things differently, would you still be here with us?”
He hesitates and my blurry eyes stare up at him.
Brock drops his head in sadness, too, and I hear Bridget sniff loudly.
“The only relief I have is the hope that you will rest in peace knowing that I will spend the rest of my life ensuring your daughter’s happiness. Nobody could ever love her more than I do.”
The bittersweet tears run down my face before I quickly wipe them away.
I will not be sad today. I will not be sad today. I will not be sad today.
“More than any other day, I wish you were here today, celebrating our love with us.”
Joshua raises his glass. “To John.”
Everyone raises their glasses. “To John.” They repeat sadly.
He regains his composure and he raises his glass to our guests.
“To you lot.” He smiles broadly and everyone chuckles. “You have had to endure more in the last few months than any friendship should ever have to endure.”
Cameron interjects. “Amen to that!”
Everyone laughs out loud.
Joshua smirks at his beloved brother and continues his speech. “And yet you have all been so loyal and so committed to us.” He hesitates and I know he is becoming emotional. “We will never be able to thank you enough for everything you have done and the tears you have shed for us.” He raises his glass happily. “To you lot.”
Everyone smiles, nods and raises their glass in agreement. “To us lot.” They all laugh.
He turns his attention to me, and I smile as I hold my breath.
“Natasha,” he whispers.
I smile through my tears.
“For two days I have been trying to get this speech right in my head with what I want to say.” He frowns. “But how do I put into words how I feel about you?”
I smile.
“Words fall short,” he whispers.
Oh, I love this man. I place my hand over my heart as I literally swoon all over the table.
“There aren’t enough words or stars in the sky.”
I smile. Could he be any more perfect?
“So I am just going to say it like it is.” He smirks.
Abbie and Bridget raise their glasses at me. This speech is going to be super romantic, I just know it. I smile broadly in anticipation.
“You are a beautiful, intelligent, uncoordinated drama queen.”
My mouth drops open in horror and the table erupts into laughter. This is not at all what any of us were expecting.
He holds his hands up to order silence as his smile erupts.
“A beautiful slut who I fucking adore.”
The table once more erupts into loud laughter. Oh my God, this is the worst wedding speech ever. My eyes flick to Mum who gives me a wink and smiles broadly while I put my hand over my mouth in horror and laugh.
“I can’t wait to teach you to ride horses.” He raises his brow sarcastically.
My mouth drops open again and I slap his thigh. “Joshua.” I laugh.
“And make you wear Jodhpurs.” The table’s laughter gets louder.
Oh, this is beyond pale.
“Not happening.” I smirk, as I shake my head.
He holds his hands up to quieten everyone back down again.
“No, no. On a serious note.”
Everyone listens attentively and he bends to kiss the back of my hand – a simple gesture that means so, so much to me.
“I love you with all of my heart.”
Everyone gushes, and I melt.
He raises his glass for the final time. “To Natasha. My love. My life.” He raises his eyebrows cheekily. “My wife.” The table cheers loudly. “And her breathtaking smile.”


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