By: Shirley Penick

“I have a series for young adults, the first cover for that is over by Engine Two.” Terry pulled the cloth off and some of the young adults in the crowd cheered and moved over toward it to get a closer look. “I also have a series of chapter books; you can see the first in that group next to Pumper One.” He gestured toward that one and Chris pulled the tarp off. “Last, but not least, is the series Amber sent in, which is above my head. It’s a children’s picture book series in the same genre as the Tsilly books.” He pulled the wrapper off so everyone could see the depiction.

After everyone had ample time to view it, Jeremy said, “And now for the dedication that will appear in this first book.” Jeremy reached above his head and swiveled the picture to the back where it read:


To Amber, for her faith in me and her stubbornness not to allow me to hide my light under a basket, or in this case inside a filing cabinet.

Thank you so much for your conviction and determination.

I love you.

Everyone gasped and he looked down at Amber. She still had her arms folded across her chest and he had no idea what she was thinking. She looked up at him and then turned and walked back into the restaurant.

He looked over to Chris, who pointed at the door—for him to follow her.

AMBER WAS IN shock. What in the hell was Jeremy doing? Had he lost his mind? Yes, she’d called him a coward, but that didn’t mean he had to go nuts. She went into her office and collapsed on a chair. She put her arms on her knees and her face in her hands. Her thoughts were whirling.

Her hands were pulled away from her face and there he was kneeling in front of her. “I’m sorry. Did I embarrass you? I just wanted to show you I wasn’t afraid anymore. I just wanted you to know that I appreciate what you did, for the length you went to. I just wanted you to know that I love you and want you to be part of my life. I’m sorry if it was too much.”

She put her hands on his face. “Jeremy, all I needed was a phone call. I love you, too.”

He looked at her in confusion and then a slow smile spread across his face. “Then, you forgive me?”

“Of course, I do. I was at fault, too.”

“But in the best possible way.”

She felt a crooked smile on her face. “Maybe.”

“Then, you’ll marry me? You’ll be my family?”

If he’d asked her that question before their breakup, she would have run in the other direction, terrified. But the weeks she’d been without him had shown her just what he meant to her. They were good together. She nodded decisively. “Yes, I will.”

He kissed her then, long and slow. Her temperature rose. She pulled him closer and reveled in his taste, in his scent, in his warmth. She could kiss him for a week or two.

He drew back and pulled a piece of paper out of his jacket pocket. “Good, because your new menu would look pretty silly otherwise.”

She unfolded the paper. It was the same as her current menu except there, next to her restaurant, was Jeremy, just as he was before, only this time he was holding her hand. She saw in the top corner was a new tree that had their initials carved in it.

She smiled at him. “It’s perfect.”

The End