Small Town Swoon Bonus Scene

“Dashiel Buckley, for heaven’s sake!” I shook my head in disbelief as he sauntered into the kitchen stark naked. 

“What?” He pulled open a cupboard door and took down a mug. “It’s not like anyone is here. And we never have the house to ourselves, Sugar. We should take advantage of it.”

Our kids had slept over at Xander and Kelly’s house the night before. Their daughter Serena was ten—the same age as our daughter, Wren—and their daughter Dakota was seven, just like our son, Truman. “We did take advantage of it,” I reminded him, stirring a little cream into my coffee. “Twice already.”

“A man should feel free to walk around his private home unencumbered by the starched vestments of his public life,” Dash pronounced grandly as he poured himself a cup of coffee. Then he glanced at his ass. “Besides, don’t you still like the view?”

Leaning back against the counter, I laughed as my gaze traveled over his body, still incredibly toned at age forty-one. “I still like the view.”

“Good.” He gave me a kiss before lifting his mug to his lips. “I still like my view too.”

“Thank you.”

“I’d like it even better if you were naked.”

I rolled my eyes. “You just saw me naked in the shower.”

“Did I? I can’t recall.” He tugged the belt on my robe, and it fell open. “Oh yes, this does seem familiar.”

I laughed again as he set his coffee on the counter behind me, slipped his hands inside my robe, and buried his face in my neck. “Dash. We don’t have time.”

“I’m fast. I have experience.”

“We have to be at Xander and Kelly’s in an hour, and my hair is still wet.”

“I like all of you wet.” He moved his lips to my ear. “But only for me.”

“You’re impossible. And you’re going to make us late.” But he knew exactly how to touch me, how to make my skin tingle and my insides tighten and my body come alive with desire for him. 

“Please, Sugar,” he whispered, one hand stealing between my thighs, one finger stroking me softly. “I missed you so much while I was gone. You can’t blame me for wanting you all to myself for a little while longer.”

I moaned as his mouth moved down my throat, blindly setting my coffee mug on the counter behind me. Resisting Dash hadn’t gotten any easier in the nearly twelve years we’d been married, especially since he was often gone for weeks at a time on a film shoot. When the kids were tiny, we’d often accompany him on location, but once they started elementary school—the same one we’d both attended, the same one we’d once visited for Show and Tell—we’d agreed that stability was best. The absences were hard, but our devotion to each other never wavered. Family meant everything to us. Not just the four of us, but our extended family too.

And boy, had it extended.

Austin and Veronica had been married at Christmastime the year Dashiel and I had first gotten together. Veronica had been eight months pregnant with a son by the following summer, when Xander and Kelly tied the knot. Luke was now thirteen, and his sister Vivian was eleven. The twins had been thrilled to become a big sister and brother. They were twenty-two now—Owen was studying marine biology at U.C. San Diego and Adelaide was majoring in musical theater at University of Michigan. 

Xander and Kelly had built a huge home in the woods about half an hour outside of Cherry Tree Harbor and proceeded to fill it with five children: four girls ranging in age from twelve to five, and then a boy named George for his grandpa, who was now three.

Speaking of grandpa, George was turning eighty this summer, and we were all gathering at Xander and Kelly’s for a family photo and celebration today. He’d wed Julia Sullivan in a quiet ceremony at Cherry Tree Harbor’s town hall the same year Xander and Kelly got married, but with much less fanfare. We’d all walked the two blocks from the town hall down to the Pier Inn for a wedding dinner, the twins scuffling through the crunchy autumn leaves, Austin pushing newborn Luke in the stroller, the air crisp and cool. As Dash slipped his hand through mine, I remembered hoping my wedding day would be filled with just as much laughter and love and light. 

And it was. My father had walked me down the aisle in Cherry Tree Harbor’s Chapel by the Sea on a late summer afternoon, everyone who mattered to us was there, and the whole place had erupted in cheers when the officiant pronounced us Mr. and Mrs. Dashiel Buckley. We kissed, danced back down the aisle to “I’ve Had the Time of My Life,” burst out into the sunshine, and kissed again. The best part was, we were still just as much in love as we had been on that day. 

Sometimes I still couldn’t believe I married my best friend’s older brother. That I was Ariana Buckley now. Mabel and I sometimes joked that we’d shared everything two best friends could share—even a last name. Of course, hers had changed since she’d gotten married, but she and her husband didn’t live too far from Cherry Tree Harbor. Funny thing, she married a guy named Joey Lupo, who was the younger brother of Gianni Lupo, whose father-in-law sold us the original Moe’s food truck years ago. Joey was a chef like his dad and brother, and he ran the restaurant at a place called Cloverleigh Farms. 

But that’s a story for another time. 

Although Dash and I hadn’t been in a rush to start a family, Wren had come along by surprise—which we were delighted about. Truman arrived and completed our family three years later.

Devlin and Lexi had sworn up and down they weren’t in a hurry to start a family either, but they’d barely been married for a year when Lexi announced her pregnancy. Then she promptly jumped up from the Thanksgiving table and ran to the bathroom because the smell of turkey made her sick. We’d teased her about it every holiday since. Their kids—also a boy and a girl—were roughly the same age as Austin and Veronica’s. The entire Buckley clan always spent the days between Christmas and New Year’s at Snowberry Lodge, and rang in the new year at the resort together.

Dashiel and I had sold my little house and purchased a larger one with a little more privacy on the edge of town. While the kids were young, I didn’t work at the diner too often, and my cousin ran Moe’s on the Go. We had two trucks now, and business was great. Now that Wren and Tru were a little older, I could often be found behind the counter at Moe’s, and sometimes behind the wheel of the food truck. My parents had retired and spent the cold months in Florida, but they still returned to Michigan during the summers. They told me often how proud they were to see both of their beloved children—me and Moe’s diner—thriving. 

I was happier than I ever thought possible. I missed Dash when he was gone, but I knew that what made our dreams work so well together was that we understood they took sacrifice. Was life perfect? Of course not.

But it was close, I thought as my husband swept me up in his arms and carried me back to our bed.

It was pretty damn close. 

He tossed me onto the mattress, and I landed on top of the covers that were still twisted and wrinkled from this morning’s romp. Sprawling above me, he settled between my thighs, my knees bracketing his hips. “You know,” he said, brushing a damp lock of curly hair from my face, “sometimes I still can’t believe you’re mine.”

“Seriously?” I laughed. “Even after all this time?”

“Especially after all this time.” He lowered his lips to mine, kissing me softly, sweetly. “I want you to know I don’t take you or this family or anything about what we’ve built for granted. I feel lucky every single day.”

My heart tried to break its way out of my chest, like it might jump into his. “I do too. Sometimes I think about the nights I used to spend dreaming about holding your hand in the hallway at school, or imagine what it would be like to go on a date with you. I’d kiss my pillow and pretend it was you on my front porch.”

He smiled, making my belly flutter just like he’d done back then if he so much as looked my way. “That’s cute.”

“I was waiting for you to look my way and realize I was meant for you,” I said dramatically, cradling his face in my hands.

“Sorry I made you wait so long.”

“Don’t be.” I lifted my head off the pillow and kissed his lips. “Your timing was perfect.”

He started to laugh. “I will never forget that day when I walked into the kitchen naked at my dad’s house and saw you standing by the door. The look on your face.”

“My eyes went straight for your crotch.” Squeezing my eyes shut, I groaned. “I was so embarrassed.”

“But did you like what you saw?” He nipped at my chin. 

“Too much. That’s how I cut my finger that night—I was distracted by the memory of your naked body.”

“That’s right! I forgot about that—I had to take you to the emergency room.” He turned his face into my palm and kissed my fingers. “You were nervous because you hated needles.”

“You stayed with me the whole time.”

“Of course I did. You were stuck with me by then. You just didn’t know it.”

I grinned. “You took very good care of me. You still do.”

“Well, you’re my favorite person. It only makes sense.” Reaching down between us, he stroked me gently with his fingers. “And I love taking care of you.”

My eyes drifted closed as he eased inside me, burying himself deep within, filling me completely. It felt so good, for a moment I was scared to open my eyes again. “Dash,” I whispered. “If I dreamed this life, don’t wake me.”

“Don’t worry, Sugar,” he said as he began to move. “This dream is ours forever.”

Thank you so much for reading Small Town Swoon! Have you binged my other series yet? Here’s a reading order checklist! For the deep dive, start at the top left with Frenched (a fan favorite!), then go left to right row by row. So after the Frenched Series comes the Happy Crazy Love Series, then the After We Fall Series, and so on. Happy reading!