Almost a year and a half ago I finished my billionaire romance serial His Every Whim and released the boxed set, The Billionaire’s Whim. I included a bonus chapter at the end of The Billionaire’s Whim and I made it available to all of my readers so they didn’t have to buy the boxed set if they wanted the new chapter.
Recently, I had the full His Every Whim series re-edited and when I did that, I added the bonus chapter to His True Fortune. I’m sure there are readers out there who missed it when I’ve posted the password protected bonus chapter or offered it through my newsletter, but I wanted to make sure anyone who wanted to read it had the chance.
If you would like to read the bonus chapter on your ereader, I will once again make that download available only to my newsletter subscribers. Sign up for my newsletter here and I will send a special newsletter soon for you to download The Billionaire’s Whim bonus chapter. 🙂
***SPOILER ALERT!!!*** If you have not read His True Fortune, then do not read this bonus chapter. The bonus chapter is a continuation of the ending.
Don’t read further if you don’t want to know the ending!!!
Ok, here it goes…
Samantha and Drake’s Wedding Day
As usual, I was running late. I could start getting ready hours before we were supposed to be somewhere and without a doubt, Xander would enter our bedroom ready to leave and find me sitting in my underwear drying my hair or putting on make-up. It was a fact of life.
This time though, I was ready. Of course it was still later than I planned, but Xander hadn’t checked in to see how late I was running so as far as he knew, I was on time. Wearing a pale blue maxi dress and a pair of flat white sandals with small leather flowers on the simple straps, I was ready to go. I felt underdressed for a wedding, but I knew better than to go against the bride’s wishes.
Samantha begged everyone to not make a big deal out of her and Drake getting married. She planned a simple, intimate wedding, and the only thing she requested was that the guests wear blue for her something blue.
As I smoothed my hair with my hands, trying to control the frizz and wondering if I should put it up instead of letting it hang at my shoulders, I heard Jacob wake up. On time as always, he napped for two solid hours and I happily ran into his room to find him batting at the octopus arms of his crib toy.
“Hey there, big guy,” I cooed as I picked him up. “Let’s get you changed and ready. It’s a big day for you today, your first wedding and your first trip to the beach!”
Wide-eyed and happy, Jacob hooted. I dressed him in a blue plaid madras short-all, then brushed his small patch of dark hair.
“Mommy wishes she could get dressed as fast as you do and look half as cute,” I said to him as I picked him up.
Carrying Jacob into the hall, I heard Xander’s voice booming out of his office. I was too far to make out the words, but it was obvious he was angry. Surprised he would take a business call so close to heading out, I stood outside his doorway to hear what was going on.
“I’m tired of this, Mother,” he said, sounding exasperated. “I don’t know what you expect. You ignored us during the entire pregnancy. Now you suddenly want to play grandmother?”
“Play grandmother? I am his grandmother!” Her voice crackled over the speakerphone. “You have no right to keep him from me.”
“Mother, you can’t just decide when you get something. The world doesn’t work like that. Plus Ashley and I are very upset with how you’ve been–”
“With how I’ve been?” She shrieked. “That wife of yours has never made me feel welcome. And I’ve done nothing but treat her like a daughter.”
“Really? So you would ignore your daughter’s pregnancy?” Xander growled at the phone. “I was probably more excited than anyone that Ashley and I were having a baby. I wanted to share this with you. You were never there. You didn’t give a damn when I shared the ultrasound images with you. You acted like it wasn’t happening until a few weeks before Ashley’s due date. And you still didn’t speak to Ashley! The entire time she was pregnant, you never once spoke to her. Is that how you’d treat your daughter?” He paused for a moment before continuing. “And what about Mother’s Day?”
“What about Mother’s Day? I told you, I didn’t send any cards.”
“That’s bullshit and you know it.”
“Fine, you want the truth?” she said, her voice growing more frantic. “I didn’t want to send Ashley a card to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day. I didn’t send her or anyone else a card because I refused to send one to your wife.”
“Now that you’re telling the truth, it’s a good thing you don’t have a daughter,” he grunted at the phone as he paced the room.
“It’s her fault! She said I couldn’t come over. She made me feel unwelcome.”
“No, Mother. I said you couldn’t come over. That wasn’t her. You are disrespectful and rude, and not just to Ashley. You only think about yourself and how you can manipulate people to get your own way. Ashley didn’t make you feel unwelcome, you did that yourself.”
“But Jacob! I’m his grandmother…”
“Then you should’ve thought about how you treated his mother if you wanted to get to know him. I won’t tolerate your selfishness. And I definitely will protect my son from it if I have to.”
“But I’m your mother,” she pleaded.
“And Ashley’s my wife. I know my priorities, Mother. Maybe you need to figure out yours.”
Still standing on the other side of the doorway, shock filled me as I realized how difficult that had to be for Xander to stand up to his mother for me. When I heard his footsteps approaching, I quickly turned around as I tried to pretend I just entered the hall.
“How much did you hear?” he asked.
“Hear? What do you mean?” I said, trying my best to look innocent.
He laughed. “Your cheeks give you away. They’re beet red. You’d be awful at poker.”
Wrapping his arms around me, he bent down and kissed my forehead, the soft whiskers of his trimmed beard brushing against my skin, sending the same electric warmth I felt the day we met at the gallery. He smiled as he looked at Jacob nestled in my arms.
“We should get going, I really don’t want to be late,” I said as I looked at Xander, suddenly aware he wasn’t in a suit. “What’s going on here?”
Xander stepped back so I could get a better look. He wore a light blue pair of slacks with matching blazer that made his eyes stand out even more. Underneath the blazer was a darker blue buttoned shirt that reminded me of the ocean. It wasn’t much different than his usual suit, but much more casual, especially since he wasn’t wearing a tie.
“Drake said no suits. I didn’t want to bother you so I asked my old assistant to order some clothing.”
“Your assistant?” I asked, suddenly jealous.
“Yes, you remember Lisette Medina. The temp who gave you the cemetery address. She’s a permanent employee now, but she’s no longer my assistant,” he said as he wrapped his arm around my waist as we went downstairs. “I could be wrong, but I believe Lisette has caught Simon’s eye.”
“The new financier you’ve been working with?”
“Yes, you should see how he looks at her. I’m sure it’s the same look I get whenever I look at you,” he said as his hand slid over my butt.
“Stop!” I jumped. “Ugh, it’s so big. And it’s gotten even bigger.”
“Ashley, please.” He turned me to face him and lifted my chin as his ice-blue eyes looked deep into mine. “You’re gorgeous. Stunning. I wish you saw yourself the way I see you. You get more beautiful everyday. Besides,” he said as his hand slipped down my back again, “I like having something to squeeze.”
My cheeks burned as I giggled. Xander had a way of making me feel like the most gorgeous woman in the world. He didn’t give me grief because I couldn’t lose weight. Instead, he tried convincing me I was perfect. I wondered how I ever got so lucky.
The drive through the canyon to the beach was always one of my favorites. As Xander steered his newest toy, a Masarati Quattroporte in a deep plum that he chose because I loved the color, I looked out at the passing landscape. The wildflowers and greenery on the nearby sloping hills were beautiful. In the distance, the mountains looked purple against the bright sky.
My ringing cell phone brought me back and I quickly pulled it out of my purse, hoping the sudden noise didn’t wake Jacob, who was peacefully sleeping in his car seat.
“Hello?” I said as I answered the phone.
“Hey gorgeous, it’s Joshua.”
“Yeah right, you’re such a kiss ass! You must want something,” I teased. “I’m glad you called, I’ve been wanting to ask you a favor. A friend of mine is graduating with her degree in fashion design. I was wondering if you could help her out.”
“Of course, any friend of yours is a friend of mine. Plus I could use an assistant. Why don’t you bring her by the shop so I can meet her?”
“Hmm. Well, I was planning to surprise her at her graduation next week. Maybe we can come by afterwards.”
“Fabulous! I have a couple of things I want you to try on while you’re here. See you then, darling!”
As I hung up, I saw the ocean peeking out between the houses as we drove down Beach Boulevard. Samantha didn’t want a big wedding or anything elaborate so she decided to get married at their home on the beach.
“Is Drake planning on buying a new place after the baby comes?” I asked Xander.
“He hasn’t mentioned anything. You know how he is. He loves that beach house. You’d never know he was a billionaire by the looks of the place though.”
“It doesn’t surprise me. And it is big enough for the three of them. I think you sometimes forget how much these places right on the beach cost. Us normal people can only dream of living in a place like that.”
“You, my love, could never be normal. You’re the most amazing woman I’ve ever met.”
I looked down at my hands on my lap and couldn’t help but smile. Xander always made me feel special, even when I felt like I wasn’t. He placed his warm hand over mine as he parked the car in Drake’s driveway, and my heart skipped a beat. Every day with Xander was like living a dream.
Walking through a tall rust-colored iron gate at the side of the house, we followed the flower-lined walkway towards the beach. The weather was perfect with a cloudless sky. Drake greeted everyone as he stood on the flagstone patio.
He looked happier than I’d ever seen him. With his dark blond hair swept back from his face, his unbleached linen pants and matching untucked button-down shirt, Drake was the embodiment of beach casual. Between him and the ocean was a floral canopy with long chains of white orchids dangling down and swaying in the ocean breeze.
“Oh, there’s Jackie,” I said to Xander as I spotted my old friend slipping into the house through the oversized sliding glass door. “I’m going to catch up with her. I told you she’s the maid of honor, right?”
“Yes, you did. It’s surprising what a small world we live in. You go ahead, and I’ll take Jacob to say hello to his Uncle Drake,” he said before gently kissing my lips.
The living room had been transformed into the bride’s waiting area. Layers of sheer fabric covered the wall of glass that separated the home from the beach, giving the room a dreamy feel.
Samantha sat on the sectional with her bare feet elevated. She looked beautiful and relaxed. Gone was the angry confused girl I met before, replaced by a mellow, serene woman who absolutely radiated happiness.
I caught up to Jackie, who wore a blue and white silk ombré handkerchief dress as she brought a glass of ice water to Samantha.
“Always a bridesmaid, never a bride. I never saw that coming,” she joked. “Do either of you have any idea what it’s like to watch your two closest friends get married when I can’t even get a date?”
“I don’t know, Jackie. You want us to think you’re joking around, but you know what they say–there’s truth in jest,” I said as I teased her.
“Come on you guys, there has to be someone you can set me up with. I’m really okay with it if he’s only a millionaire,” she said before finally cracking up and laughing.
“You think I didn’t think about that already?” Samantha asked as she grinned. “Give me some credit. Have you met the best man yet?”
“Really? Just for me? It’s about time!”
Jackie laughed as she sat next to Samantha, who wore a simple white sleeveless, empire waist cotton sundress with hand-stitched embroidery that draped around her pregnant belly. Her red curls hung loosely under a crown of flowers.
“I’m so glad you could make it, Ashley. If it wasn’t for your wedding, Drake and I would’ve never reconnected after all those years. Sometimes I can’t believe it. I mean he was my schoolgirl crush, and now we’re getting married,” Samantha said.
“You have to excuse my daughter,” Samantha’s mother said as she left the kitchen. “I think all those pregnancy hormones have affected her brain,” she said with a sly grin. “I’m Krista, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”
Krista was the spitting image of Samantha, except for a large swatch of grey hair that framed her face. They even had the same sense of humor. As Krista walked behind Samantha, Sam stuck her tongue out at her. Krista laughed then gently patted her daughter’s shoulder and kissed her cheek. Sam held her hand on her shoulder and looked up at her, smiling. For a brief moment, I thought about my own mother and how I never had those moments.
“Don’t tell me you’re crying!” Samantha said to me as her face slowly crumbled. “You’re going to make me cry.”
“Oh no, I’m so sorry. I’m not crying. I just…I got something in my eye. You know the beach, and the sand…” I forced a smile at everyone but knew they didn’t believe me.
“Please don’t cry. You’ll make me think, and I’ll realize I’m a seven-month pregnant woman getting married! How ridiculous is that? I look like a giant beach ball! I’m as big as a house!”
“Oh no! You look beautiful. Seriously, you’re glowing. You look so happy and Drake, geez, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him happier.”
“Really? You saw him?”
“Yes, when we got here. He’s greeting everyone.”
“I wish I could talk to him. I just…you know the old superstition, I can’t see him,” Samantha said.
“You can’t see him, but you can talk to him. Give me two minutes. I have an idea,” I said as I got up and made my way outside.
A few more people had arrived, making it more difficult for me to find Drake. There were about fifty of their closest family and friends, all dressed in different shades of blue. Through the crowd, I caught a glimpse of a light sand material and knew it had to be him.
“Ashley!” Drake greeted me with a warm smile before kissing my cheek and hugging me tightly. “You look lovely as usual.”
“Come with me,” I said as I grabbed his hand. “Your fiancée misses you.”
“But she doesn’t want to see me. I was given strict orders–”
“You won’t see her, trust me.”
Steering Drake towards his house, I brought him to the kitchen door, which also faced the beach but was further away from the drawn curtains that covered the large sliding doors of the living room. I grabbed a folding chair and set it to the side of the door, with its back against the wall, then grabbed another one and did the same thing inside. The chairs were back to back with the wall separating them.
“Sit here and whatever you do, do not turn around,” I instructed.
Once he was seated outside the kitchen, I went back to the living room where Sam was beginning to look a little nervous.
“Come with me, I have Drake,” I said.
“But I can’t. We can’t see each other, it’s bad luck.”
Without a word, I grabbed her hand and helped her up. She followed me into the kitchen and stopped when she saw the back of Drake’s shoulder peeking through the doorway. She sat in the chair behind his and their hands seemed to find each other through the open doorway like magnets.
I desperately wanted to give them their privacy. I left the kitchen but couldn’t help myself, I was dying to know why Samantha was suddenly nervous. Was it just cold feet? Or something more? I had to listen.
“You’re having second thoughts again, aren’t you?” Drake asked.
She sighed. “You know I love you with all my heart. It’s just that getting married like this, while I’m pregnant, isn’t ideal.”
“But it was your idea. You wanted to get married before the baby came.”
“I know,” she said softly. “And I still want that, I just…I don’t know. I’m so confused, Drake. I mean everything is perfect, it’s just like I planned, but it’s not.”
“Do you still want to get married? Has something changed?” I could hear fear in his voice as he spoke to her.
“More than anything. Nothing’s changed. I want to be with you forever. I guess this just isn’t exactly what I dreamed about when I was younger. I know it’s silly.”
“No, it’s not silly. You deserve to get everything you ever dreamed of,” he said before becoming quiet for a minute. “You know, this doesn’t have to be our only wedding. We can do this again after Elsa’s born. We can get married as many times as you’d like. I’ll do whatever it takes to make your dreams come true.”
“Oh, I’d love that! That’s a great idea,” she said.
I peeked over at them and saw Sam smiling and relaxed once again. Just as I re-entered the kitchen, Drake spoke again.
“Sam, turn away from the doorway and close your eyes.”
“Okay…” she said hesitantly as she turned towards me.
Drake turned, eyes closed but still holding her hand, and kissed her palm then the inside of her wrist before standing up.
“I love you, Samantha Mayfair. And I can’t wait to call you my wife.”
As he left, Sam opened her eyes as her skin flushed and she bit her lip, smiling.
“Thank you, Ashley. Everything’s going to be perfect.”
As she stood up, Jackie entered the kitchen with a large bouquet of red and yellow Gerbera daisies she handed to Sam.
“It’s time,” Jackie said before hugging Sam and quickly fixing her red hair so she looked perfect.
Slipping out the kitchen door, I found Xander bouncing Jacob to sleep in his arms, an empty bottle on the table beside him. We joined everyone at the white wooden chairs set up in front of the orchid canopy.
Drake stood in the sand, in front of the canopy with his best man–a strikingly handsome man with the same dirty blond hair and warm brown eyes. He looked a lot like Drake. Even their strong jawline was similar, except the man looked younger and had a chin dimple. There was also something in his look Drake didn’t have, a mischievousness I was curious about. I leaned into Xander, and he somehow read my mind like he so often did.
“That’s Brent Winslow, Drake’s younger brother,” he whispered to me.
I immediately remembered Jackie’s joking comment and Samantha’s response and wondered if she really was trying to set our friend up. I hoped so, for Jackie’s sake. She used to tell me she didn’t have time for a boyfriend, but I thought deep down there was more there than she cared to admit.
A trio of violins began playing Here Comes The Bride, and everyone stood. Looking at Drake, I watched the biggest smile spread across his face. I followed his gaze to Samantha as she began walking down the aisle. Her green eyes sparkled, and it was obvious she and Drake were in their own little world.
My eyes filled with tears again, but they were tears of happiness and joy this time. Xander wrapped his arm around my waist and held me against his strong body as Samantha made her way to Drake.
“Are you okay?” he whispered softly in my ear.
I nodded, at first a little overcome with emotion before I looked up into his loving ice-blue eyes and touched the soft chubby cheek of our son.
As Samantha reached the canopy, she and Drake held hands once again. The preacher smiled at them both before looking out at the small crowd.
“We are gathered here today to celebrate the union of Drake and Samantha.”
The sun began setting into the ocean behind the canopy. The sky had streaks of blue and orange, and that reminded me of the sunrise I watched that morning with my family. It was a picture-perfect moment made all the better by watching our friends declare their love for each other.