Possession Duet Bonus Scene
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I hope you enjoy this bonus scene with Wes and Londyn!
Five Years Later
I inhale a deep breath, surrounded by the familiar aroma of popcorn, fried food, and raw earth. Folk music plays in the distance, competing with the sounds of the carnival games and motors on the myriad of rides. This country fair was once an annual occurrence, something I looked forward to attending with Gampy, Meemaw, and Julia every year.
Now it’s something I can share with my growing family.
I glance to my right, beaming down at Londyn, her hand clasped in mine, able to make out the slight swell of her stomach.
Elijah’s been wondering when he’s going to get a baby brother, especially now that he’s six years old. After quite a few years of trying and some unfortunate losses, we’re finally able to fulfill his wish…
We haven’t told him his little brother will actually be a sister.
But as I watch him joke around with Imogene while they walk ahead of us, I have no doubt he’ll take to our new addition just as quickly as he did Imogene.
“You okay?” I ask Londyn as we stroll past a row of carnival games, memories of running into Grady Stowe at the ball throw flashing before me, causing my hackles to rise slightly. It doesn’t matter that years have passed since that night. I promised to never do anything to put her in harm’s way.
Then again, Londyn isn’t a woman in need of protection. She’s fierce. A warrior. A survivor. Which is why she didn’t even blink when Elijah asked to come to the country fair today.
It hasn’t all been a walk in the park. We’ve certainly experienced incidents of racism as a family. Which only makes me more angry than it did before, knowing there are people out there who hate the most important people in my life simply because their skin’s darker than mine. But as I vowed all those years ago, I’ve done everything I could to teach Elijah not to stoop to their level. To rise above. To counter their hate with love.
There are times I question whether I’m doing right by him. But when he beams at me and hugs me tightly, telling me he loves me, I know I must have done something right.
“I’m fine, Wes. We’re all fine. Things are much different this time. For one, Grady’s serving a twenty-year sentence for that botched robbery a few years back. For another, I think most people in this town like me more than they ever did him.”
I can’t argue with her there.
In the past five years, Londyn and I have made a home for ourselves out here, at least during the summer. With Julia’s encouragement, Londyn opened up a store to sell her up-cycled furniture. At first, it was a small space in the downtown area. But once word got out, people would drive into town to check out her one-of-a-kind merchandise, requiring her to upgrade to a bigger space.
Now, she owns a half-dozen stores in the greater Atlanta area. She even has a few apprentices working for her, learning how to do what she does. Which is a good thing, considering she won’t be able to work much once she hits her third trimester. She doesn’t have to work, period, but this isn’t work to her. It’s her passion.
And like her, I’ve found my passion, too. With my father’s help, the firm has branched out into historic renovations. When Londyn’s not in her workshop, she helps with the overall design concept for each of these renovations. Even though my father initially planned to step back from work and spend the rest of his days golfing, that’s no longer the case. He’s found his passion again, often joining me on job sites to lend a hand.
“Mom, Dad, can we go on a ride?” Elijah asks from up ahead, glancing back at us.
“Remember what I told you. Your mother can’t go on anything fast or that jerks her around. It’s not good for the baby.”
“MoMo said we can see Gampy and Meemaw’s house from the Ferris wheel. Can we go on it to see?”
“The Ferris wheel?” Londyn asks. “Are you sure? It goes pretty high, bud.”
I know for a fact she doesn’t say that to warn Elijah. Our kid is an adrenaline junkie. He may only be a few months shy of his seventh birthday, but every time we’ve taken him to Walt Disney World, he makes a beeline for the roller coasters now that he’s tall enough to ride them.
He scoffs. “Like that bothers me. I’m brave.”
I can’t help but smile, remembering Imogene and Julia having this same conversation all those years ago. It’s like we’ve come full circle. But now we’re in a better place. One I couldn’t have imagined for myself if I tried, but somewhere I’ll happily remain the rest of my life.
“I know you are.” I shift my gaze toward Londyn. “So what do you think, honeybee?” I ask with amusement in my tone. “Fancy a ride on a rickety old death trap?”
The corners of her mouth quirks up into a smile. Then she stands on her toes, brushing her lips against mine. It doesn’t matter how many years have passed. I still crave her like I did the first time Imogene coerced us onto a Ferris wheel. Hell, probably even more now, especially after watching her body change during her pregnancy with Elijah. And now I get to witness the same thing again.
“If you promise to distract me like you did last time,” she murmurs.
I press my mouth harder against hers. “I think I can find a way to distract you.”
“I know you can,” she flirts.
Placing my hand on her lower back, I lead her toward the ticket booth, buying enough for the four of us.
“Don’t tell me Imogene roped you into the Ferris wheel again,” a voice calls out as we’re about to get in line.
We all look in the general direction as Julia approaches, her hair pulled back, the dark shirt with her bakery’s logo streaked with what I assume to be powdered sugar. I’m surprised that’s the only evidence of spending twelve hours a day this week in her bakery’s food truck, serving up the signature treats she’s known for. And not just in the Southeast anymore. Over the past several years, Julia’s double-downed on her business and turned it into a household name. A trendy place people line up to say they’d had one of The Matter Batter’s delicious peanut butter and jelly cookies. Or her sinful cannoli cupcake.
“Actually, it was Eli. When did I rope them into the Ferris wheel before?” Imogene scrunches up her nose in the same way Julia often does.
As my niece has become a teenager, she’s started to look so much like her mother. Same charismatic smile. Same button nose. Same blonde curls, although Julia now colors her hair so it’s more strawberry than blonde.
But Imogene’s eyes are still identical to her father’s, at least in color. Thankfully not in temperament. Imogene has grown into everything her father never could be. It hasn’t been without its challenges for either Julia or Imogene. Particularly throughout the trial when every media outlet seemed to do whatever was necessary in order to get a statement from Julia, including hounding her young daughter.
But that’s all behind us now. A footnote in our lives. We’ve all moved on.
At least I like to think we have, although I still have my doubts whether Julia truly has moved on.
It’s been over seven years since Nick’s arrest. Five since he was convicted and sent to prison for the rest of his life. But in that time, Julia hasn’t even tried to date. She claims she’s too busy raising Imogene and growing her business. If I didn’t know my sister like I do, maybe I’d believe it. After all, being a single mother and a business owner has to be trying.
But she’s not without help. Between Londyn, my father, and myself, we’re always jumping in to lend a hand with Imogene whenever Julia needs to travel for work. Or even if she wanted to take time for herself. Yet she still refuses to take that last step in finally moving on.
I hope someday soon she will.
After all, she deserves to experience that same happiness I do every morning I wake up with Londyn in my arms.
“You probably don’t remember it, but when you were six, you forced your uncle and auntie on the Ferris wheel.” A nostalgic gleam lights up my sister’s face. “Before that, they were just friends.” She gives Londyn and me a small smile, then leans closer to Imogene, lowering her voice. “Although I don’t think they were ever just friends. But after that night, they finally realized what I’d already figured out the first time I saw them together.”
“What’s that, Auntie Jules?” Elijah asked, peering up at her in awe.
She smiles at him before returning her eyes to mine. “That they’re soul mates.”
I notice little Elijah’s brow furrowed, probably wondering what she means by soul mates. But he shrugs, obviously more interested on going on a carnival ride than standing here as Julia reminisces about the early days of our relationship.
“Are you coming with us?” I ask. “I’ll get another ticket.”
“I wish I could, but I need to head out and pack. I thought I’d have all day tomorrow to do that before you two conspired to change my flight.”
“You can’t spend your fortieth birthday flying all the way to Hawaii,” Londyn insists. “That’s what? A twelve-hour flight?”
“Five to LA. Then another six to Oahu. With a two-hour layover in between.”
“Exactly. Not the way I’d want to ring in the big four-o.”
“But now I’ll miss seeing Imogene off to camp.”
“I told you…,” I begin. “We’ll drop her off, since this is Elijah’s first year, as well. You should spend your fortieth birthday sipping Mai Tai’s on the beach.”
“We’ll see about that.”
“Promise you’ll do more than work while you’re there,” I say in a reproachful voice.
“I’m there to open my first bakery on the island. Not have a vacation.”
“But you need a vacation,” I insist. “When’s the last time you took any time for yourself?”
“Did you forget our trip to Europe together last summer?” She places a hand on her hip.
“I’d be hard-pressed to call that a vacation. You were there for a conference. And when you weren’t in meetings, you were on a death march to see as many historic sights as possible. You’re turning forty. You should celebrate.”
“On an island where I don’t know anyone?” She arches a brow.
“If you ask me, that’s exactly what you need. Some time in a place where no one knows who you are.”
“You deserve it, Mama,” Imogene says. “I’ll be at camp all month anyway. You can’t use me as an excuse anymore.”
Julia opens her mouth to protest that she doesn’t use her as an excuse, but after everything that happened, she promised never to lie to her daughter. So instead, she says, “I’ll think about it.”
“Good.” Imogene wraps her arms around her, squeezing her a little tighter than usual. “I love you, Mama.”
“Love you too, darling. You have fun at camp. And keep an eye on Elijah for your auntie and uncle. Okay? It’s his first year, so he’ll need you to show him the ropes.”
With a shaky breath, she pulls back, studying Imogene for a protracted beat before dropping her hold on her. Then she shifts her attention to me.
“Thanks again for this. For taking her to camp. And for being such a giant pain in the ass that you changed my flight.”
I pull her into my embrace and kiss the top of her head. “I may be a giant pain in the ass, but you still love me,” I remind her.
After she says her goodbyes to Elijah and Londyn, giving her belly a rub and a kiss, she gives Imogene another big hug, then walks away. I watch as several people approach her, telling her how much they love her treats. I can’t help but brim with pride. Despite everything my sister’s been through, she still persevered. Still strove to be successful.
Just like Londyn.
“Now can we go on the Ferris wheel?” Elijah asks, snapping me out of my thoughts.
“Of course, bud.” I place my hand on his shoulder, steering him into the line.
He falls into step with Imogene, who happily takes his hand in hers, keeping a close eye on him, as she always does. I can only hope Elijah and our new baby have the same bond he shares with Imogene. Hope he’ll watch out for her the same way Imogene still watches out for him. As long as I’ve done my job right, he will.
“What are you thinking about?” Londyn asks quietly, sensing the wheels spinning in my mind.
“This.” I place my hand over her stomach.
“Nervous? It’s been a while since we did this.”
“True. But I’m looking forward to it.”
“What? The sleepless nights and not being able to come remotely close to my boobs because they’ll leak.”
I throw my head back, laughing. That was certainly something I hadn’t expected. There was a lot about that first pregnancy we learned along the way. But as with every trial, we got through it together. Because we’re stronger together.
“There’s no one else I’d walk a sleeping baby in circles while playing Alan Jackson for.”
She giggles at the memory of the first few months of Elijah’s life. How he refused to fall asleep unless someone walked him around the house and played country music. I’m looking forward to learning what little idiosyncrasies Ellery has.
Then her expression falls and she draws in a deep breath. “We’re really going to do this again?”
“Bit too late to change our minds now.”
“That’s not what I’m talking about.” She nods toward the waiting bucket, the safety bar open.
Grinning, I lean into her neck, like I did that fateful night all those years ago. And just like that night, I whisper, “Come on, Lo. Live a little.”
She sighs, briefly closing her eyes. “All these years later, and I still can’t say no to you.” She returns her gaze to mine and extends her hand. I take it in mine, leading her up to the bucket, Elijah and Imogene waving from the one in front of us, already dangling a few feet off the ground.
Once we’re seated on the bench and the ride operator secures the bar over us, we jolt forward. Out of instinct, Londyn reaches out and squeezes my hand.
I chuckle through the mild ache, shaking out my hand once we come to a stop. “Damn baby. Pretty sure you didn’t squeeze my hand this hard when you gave birth to Eli.”
“I had an epidural. I didn’t feel a damn thing until the drugs wore off. At which point, I berated you for destroying my vag.”
I laugh a full-belly laugh, the sound carrying over the music and clanging of the carnival games down below. Then I pull her close. “If you ask me,” I whisper, “you have quite a lovely vag, as you put it. But perhaps when we get home, I should take a closer look. That way I don’t speak out of turn.”
She rolls her eyes, playfully shoving me away as we begin moving again. “Pretty sure you’ve had plenty of closer looks at my vag over the years.”
“Perhaps. But I’d like another one.” I learn toward her, feathering a kiss on her lips. “I’ll always want more,” I murmur.
“I’ll always want more, too,” she whimpers as she melts into me, her tongue swiping along the seam of my lips. I open for her, tasting a combination of peach cobbler and one of Julia’s famous peanut butter and jelly cookies.
“Finally,” I exhale once she pulls back.
“What do you mean?”
“I finally got to kiss you on the Ferris wheel.” I bring her hand to my lips, skimming them against her ring finger where the symbol of my devotion to her sits. “Although I must confess.”
“I’m actually kind of glad we didn’t kiss on the Ferris wheel all those years ago.”
She tilts her head, her brow furrowing with the most adorable look of confusion. “Why’s that?”
“Simple. Because of the Butterfly Effect.”
“The Butterfly Effect?” she repeats.
“Precisely.” I wrap my arm around her shoulders once more and peer into the distance, the setting sun casting a beautiful pink hue over this slice of paradise. At least it’s our paradise. “Everything we’ve been through has been a building block to get us to this point. If one thing had been different, if there were a different flap of the butterfly’s wings, we may not be here. We may have never realized how special this thing between us is.” I pull back slightly, grabbing her chin between my thumb and forefinger, tilting her head back. “We may have never fought for this as hard as we did.” I brush a tender kiss to her mouth as I lower my hand to her stomach. “And then there wouldn’t be Elijah. Or Ellery. So I can’t regret a single thing we’ve been through. Can’t regret anything I may have at one point considered a missed opportunity. Like I did when I didn’t get the chance to kiss you the first time we rode on this death trap.”
She blows out a laugh, shaking her head.
“Because what I got in the long run is infinitely better than a quick kiss on a carnival ride.”
“And what’s that?” she asks with a tremble in her voice.
I clutch her cheeks in mine. “Home, honeybee. I found my home.”
Thank you so much for reading this bonus epilogue to Wes & Londyn’s story!
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