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If only, p.24

If Only..., page 24

 

If Only...
 


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  My heart is pounding in my chest at how proud I am of her. I start to walk along the line, propelled by excitement until I get to the end. Evie’s bum wriggles like a little peach in her tight running shorts as she crosses the finish line. I surge forward, pushing my way through more people until I find the group of runners who are lining up to get their medals.

  “Evie!” I call.

  She looks up, and when her eyes lock with mine, she smiles again and starts to rush towards me, completely forgetting about being in line.

  “Cole!” She makes a move as if to throw herself in my arms, but halts right in front of me when she remembers what I’ve got on my back. She smiles softly and then stands on tiptoe to look over my shoulder. “Did my little girl enjoy her first running race?”

  I lean forward and place a quick kiss on her sweaty forehead. “I think she was asleep the whole time, but I enjoyed it,” I tell her, patting her bum cheek.

  She rolls her eyes and pulls at my shoulder so I squat down enough for her to be able to kiss our six-month-old daughter’s hat-covered head.

  I wince when I get up, feeling my back creak from the weight of carrying Sofia around all morning.

  “I’ll give you a massage later.” Evie rubs at the bottom of my spine as we stop to wait for Aiden and Lucca to catch up with their medals.

  “Hmm, I might just take you up on that,” I say, winking at her. “Have I ever told you that I love you?”

  “Only every single day for the last year, three months and ten days.”

  I grin and take her hand as we walk back towards Steph and Georgia. Just as we approach them, Sofia chooses to wake up with a noise similar to the growl of a baby tiger. Evie chuckles and steps behind me to baby talk with her.

  “So, who’s up for Frankie and Benny’s before we go to Joan and Simon’s?” asks Lucca when he finally gets to us.

  I hold up my hand for a high-five but move it when he swings his hand at me, grabbing him by the back of his head so I can pull him in for a hug instead. “Well done, son.”

  He beams up at me and squeezes just enough to let me know he’s letting me hug him. He’s at that age now where we’re embarrassing to him, and I’m okay with that. He’s growing up . . . and he’s a million miles away from how he was in that hospital bed.

  I can hear the others chatting easily between themselves as we walk towards the car a few hours later. I take a deep breath and fill my lungs with the crisp, cool air, breathing it deep into my lungs until I can’t fit anymore in.

  It’s still not enough. I need more. I need something to cure this insatiable excitement that’s been running through my veins for the past four weeks.

  Fuck it.

  “Evie Romano,” I say, spinning around to face them all.

  Steph’s eyes widen as she slowly shakes her head at me. I frown at her and hold my hand out to Evie as she takes it with a confused look.

  “No, Cole,” says Steph.

  Evie looks at Steph, frowns, and then turns back to me.

  I hold onto the straps on my shoulders, making sure Sofia doesn’t bang her head as I drop to one knee.

  “Ohmygod,” shrieks Evie.

  “I love you,” I whisper, feeling nervous now that everyone is watching us. “I love Lucca and I love Sofia. I love you all more than anything else in the whole world.” I swallow, forgetting all of the words that I’d memorised for this very moment. “I’ve loved you for more than half of my life, and I want to make sure you’re with me for the rest of it too.”

  A hot tear slips out of her eye and down her cheek.

  “What’s going on?” asks Lucca, squeezing his Lucozade bottle so it crinkles noisily.

  “Shh,” hisses Steph. She frowns and then bends down and cups her hand around Lucca’s ear to whisper to him. I smile, hoping we’ll look back at this moment and laugh about it when we’re old, fat and boring.

  “Evie,” I whisper so only she can hear me, “will you marry me?”

  She smiles . . . and it’s that smile. The one I live for. The one I wait for every single day.

  “I love you,” she whispers back. “And it’s a yes. Always.”

  I stand back up with her help and pull her into me. “She said yes!” I call to the others over her shoulder.

  Lucca grins and then charges towards us, wrapping his arms around Evie’s waist. “Finally,” he says with a melodramatic sigh.

  Yes, finally, I think to myself.

  THE END

  Sorrow Woods

  Existing

  Noah and Me

  For me, the hardest part about writing a book is the synopsis (I know, I know . . . it’s like 3 paragraphs, right?). So, huge thanks to my synopsis super stars: Sheri Thomas and Kate Cox. The blurb wouldn’t be a blurb without you pair!

  The second hardest part about writing a book is writing the acknowledgments. I get scared that I’m going to miss someone because there are so many people that help me (whether they realise they’re doing it or not). I might seem like I’m asking stupid questions when you’re telling me an innocent story, but really I’m making mental notes of stuff that I can use in my books. Yup . . . I do that. So, I’ve been making a list as I’ve been writing If Only . . . , and I hope I’ve got you all (if I have missed someone, feel free to bop me over the head next time you see me). And in no particular order. Seriously, no order. I’d like to thank the following people:

  My beta readers—Cindy Wolf Yeager, April Wells, Allison T and Kate Cox. If Only . . . was in a pretty crappy state when you guys got it, so thank you for putting up with all the pre-edited errors and thank you so much for your feedback.

  The bloggers, the Facebookers, the Tweeters, the readers, the sharers. You’ve all help to spread the word and I’m forever grateful.

  To April Wells, you’re fast becoming my go-to gal for book-related opinions. Thank you for all of your help and support over the last few months. Thank you for loving Cole and Evie as much as I did!

  Heather Davenport at Book Plug Promotions. Once again you’ve organized my cover reveal, release day blitz and blog tour like the pro that you are. You got If Only . . . out there and I couldn’t have done it without you. p.s. sorry for being a pain ;o)

  Sommer Stein at Perfect Pear Creative Covers for an outstanding cover—again. You rock the graphics world!

  My editor and friend, Sheri Thomas. Ah, Sheri. Sometimes I don’t think the word “thank you” is quite enough. And I’m not sure if you actually realise how much I’ve come to love you over the two and a half years that I’ve known you. I simply couldn’t do a book without you. You’re my go-to gal. I love your honesty. I love your editing skills. I love your sarcasm and the comments about the English stuff that you’ll probably never understand. I really, really wish you lived closer to me. I’m desperate to hug you! Thank you for everything you’ve done for me. Thanks for your help with the blurb, your opinion on the cover, the editing and thank you for all your opinions—yup, every single one of them. Here’s to many more books!

  The pretty interior of If Only . . . is all down to the hard work of Christine Borgford at Perfectly Publishable. Thank you for helping me out and squeezing me in. I hope we get to work together again in the future. You’re a star!

  Thank you to all of my family. There may only be a few of us, but you’re the best.

  My biggest thanks go to Jason, Freya and Seb. For making me smile every day. For filling my heart with love. I love you all to the moon and back.

  Beckie's real name is Rebecca, but she’s called (and answers to) any of the following . . . Beckie, Bek, Becca, Rebecca, Pip, Pippy or Stevo.

  Beckie is the author of Sorrow Woods, the Existing series, Noah and Me and If Only. She is due to publish more YA, NA and Adult novels in 2015/16.

  She lives in Staffordshire, England, with her partner and two children.

  Beckie likes putting music on in the house and dancing around like a mad woman.

  When she isn’t playing with her children, doing ho
usework, dancing around the house like a mad woman, walking, cycling, reading or writing, then she can be found working in an investment bank. Or sleeping.

  Beckie loves to chat. You can find her here . . .

  Twitter

  Facebook Author Page

 


 

  Beckie Stevenson, If Only...

 


 

 
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