By: Brenda Jackson

She glanced up at him. “Why?”

“Because I had that woman by my side all along. You were my best friend and the woman destined to be a part of my life forever, as my soul mate, my wife…the mother of my children.”

Tears stung JoJo’s eyes. “What are you saying, Stern?”

He turned to her and smoothed her hair back from her face. “That I love you and want to marry you. I want you to share my name and be with me always. Will you marry me, JoJo?”

She smiled through her tears. “Yes! Yes! I’ll marry you.”

Loud clapping intruded into JoJo’s thoughts and brought her back to the present. The minister had just presented Riley and Alpha as man and wife and everyone was on their feet, clapping and cheering. Riley swept his bride into his arms and walked out of the church. It had been a beautiful wedding and now it was time to leave for the reception.

Still holding her hand, Stern led her outside where they joined Canyon and his wife, Keisha, and their son, Beau, along with Zane and his fiancée, Channing. Zane and Channing would be tying the knot around the holidays, so another Westmoreland wedding would be taking place in a few months.

JoJo and Stern hadn’t yet announced their engagement to anyone, preferring to let Riley and Alpha enjoy their day without any new family news.

Stern leaned down and kissed her on the cheek. “What was that for?” she asked.

“Being you.”

“Oh.” She leaned up on tiptoe and returned the favor.

“And what was that for?” he asked her.

She gave him a bright smile. “For not just seeing me on the outside but appreciating the inside, too.”

He leaned down and whispered sexily, “And I do enjoy the inside.”

She was sure her cheeks darkened.

“Come on,” he said, tightening her hand in his. “Let’s go talk to my cousins from Atlanta who are chatting with Dillon and Ramsey. I think I’ll ask Thorn to build us a couple of bikes.”

JoJo liked the idea. “Okay. Who is that young woman with Thorn and his wife, Tara?”

“That’s Tara sister. She might be relocating to the area from Florida, and Thorn and Tara wanted her to meet all of us.”

JoJo nodded. “She’s very pretty.”

“Come on, let me introduce you,” Stern said.

“All right.”

As they walked toward the group, for some reason, the thought of Walter Carmichael crossed her mind. He was still in jail awaiting trial. Unfortunately, the Carmichael family had suffered a major setback when the judge had denied bail. Even Walter’s father’s money hadn’t helped him. JoJo believed Walter had a mental illness and she hoped he would get the help he needed.

Maceo Armstrong had gotten into trouble for assisting Walter. And then the young man had gone on to confess that he had been the reason for all her missing inventory. He had been stealing auto parts from her and selling them. She had liked him and had been very disappointed in his duplicity.

Before they reached the group of cousins, Stern stopped walking, pulled her into his arms and spun her around. “You’re beautiful and I love you,” he said, placing her back on her feet.

She laughed, catching her breath. “And I love you, too.”

He leaned down and said, “I have plans for you later.”

She smiled up at him, the man who held her heart. “And I definitely have plans for you.”