Once upon a time, CALLING IT was called THE DREAM. And then DREAMING OF YOU. Back then, it was also 25,000 words longer than it is now. A lot of those words definitely needed to go, but among those 25,000 words were several scenes that had to be sacrificed and that I promised I would someday make available. Of all of those, the Epilogue is the one that I’ve most dearly missed.

I didn’t intend to wait six months to post it, yet it feels quite fitting. Whereas the book’s current ending takes place right around when CALLING IT was released in mid-April, the epilogue jumps to October. Read on to find out why…

 

CALLING IT: The Epilogue

It had been almost six months and yet every day still felt to Dorie like she was waking up to a dream. It felt even more so on those few occasions where she woke up in her own bed in her childhood room, and he would turn to her, his long, lean body hard against her, his arms tightening around her.

Even more surreal? Today she had a fitting. For her wedding dress.

“Nate,” she whispered.

Nothing. He was dead to the world. Which, she supposed, was understandable. He should have been in Denver, sleeping off a celebration with his teammates after clinching their division title. Instead, he’d gotten on a plane and shown up in the middle of the night, surprising the hell out of her with a phone call at 2:46 a.m.

Downstairs? she had groggily asked. But… You still have two games to play. She’d had to actually look out her window before believing that he’d come all this way.

And you should know that sending me naked pictures has consequences, he’d practically growled. Now get down here and open this door before I kick it down. I have exactly 36 hours off and I’m not gonna waste a single one of them.

She twisted a little in order to look up at him now, which wasn’t all that easy to do given how big he was and how much of her bed he took up. But it wasn’t exactly a hardship. With a smile, she ran her hand lightly over the stubble on his jaw, as, still sleeping, his hips settled against hers.

Fiancé Nate was nothing like Pretend Boyfriend Nate.

Pretend Boyfriend Nate had been sweet, polite to her parents… He’d been good to her, too, of course. Attentive, interested, and oh so pretty to look at—anything a girl could want in a boyfriend.

Fiancé Nate did have some similarities. The nice and polite part was there; attentive and interested. Pretty? God, yes.

But she’d never known a man who could make her feel every moment the way he did, everything from the innocent pleasure of an ice cream cone at dusk, to having her begging and sobbing out of the pure need to have him. To taste, even just touch him.

Oh, God, how she wanted to touch him. All the time. Considering he’d flown halfway across the country just to be with her, it appeared he felt the same.

Nate.” She knew she should let him sleep, but…

She hitched her hips forward, a shiver running through her as he groaned and smiled into the crook of her neck. “Morning.” His voice was a low, amazing drawl that did almost as much to her as the feel of him pressed against her.

Almost.

She reached down and took hold of him, stroking him as he pulled her close. “Nate, honey. I wasn’t naked in those pictures.”

His tongue traced the line of her bottom lip. “Yes, you were.”

With his fingertips lightly traveling over her collarbone, down the slope of her breast, she bit back a moan. “It was a picture of me and Roberta celebrating your win.”

“Roberta was naked,” he murmured, clearly preoccupied with other things.

Given that one of those other things included Dorie’s nipple, which was now fully in his mouth, it wasn’t as easy as it might have otherwise been to say, “Roberta is a stuffed raccoon.” Threadbare and with one eye missing.

His attention shifted to her other breast. “There is that.”

Laughing, she pushed him away. “You’re terrible.”

With a move so quick that it made her head spin—or maybe that was just from being near him—he’d suddenly tucked her underneath him. Stretched out over her, he gave her a cocky grin. “I beg to differ.”

And then he was inside her and she was fighting very hard to keep her focus, to remind herself that… Her eyes nearly rolled back into her head. She gasped. “My parents… My brothers…”

Undeterred, he nuzzled her neck as he moved so agonizingly slowly inside of her, then—oh, God—out. A smile in his voice, he said, “You started it.”

Which was, yes, true. Her hands fisted in his hair as she strained against him, urging him to go more quickly even as she thought about how bad an idea this was. “Because I wasn…” Closing her eyes, her words ended in a sigh when he eased her knee up and opened her wider, taking her deep.

She’d have given them both away if he hadn’t muffled her screams with his mouth on hers. “Dorie,” he finally said, his weight deliciously heavy as he collapsed against her. “God, Dorie.” His hands went in her hair as he kissed her. “I just can’t get enough of you.”

Good thing, there. Her arms went around his neck. “The feeling’s mutual.”

She snuck him into the shower—it was bad enough that they’d just done what they’d done while nearly her entire family was either already or about to be directly below them in the dining room, gathering together for breakfast as they tended to do whenever she was in town.

When she came downstairs twenty minutes later, there was a round of greetings from her brothers, a grunt from her father, and a hug and a kiss from her mother. “Good morning, baby. Did you get enough sleep?” her hand went to Dorie’s cheek as both concern and laughter appeared in her eyes. “Were you on the phone all night? I heard you giggling for what seemed like hours.”

Really? In half the conversations they had, Dorie had to yell her part of it. But that her mother had heard? From a whole floor away?

“That poor man needs to rest, you know,” her mother was saying. “He has some important games coming up. I might just have to call his mother and…” Her eyes widened in surprise. “Nathan!”

Dorie’s cheeks turned bright red as she closed her eyes, not needing to see the looks on any of her brothers’ faces as they—none of whom had hearing issues whatsoever—put the pieces together. “Surprise,” she said faintly.

“You are so grounded,” Christopher laughed at Dorie, getting to his feet and welcoming Nate in a big bear hug.

“So not fair,” Tommy snapped. “I never get to have Sophie in my room.”

To Dorie’s surprise, Sean, of all people, just smiled as he put his arm around Claudia. “Never stopped us.”

“Thomas! Sean!” Dorie’s mother rapped the table with a wooden spoon. “Manners!”

Nervously, Dorie looked over at her father. He didn’t talk much, but he could be pretty brutal when he wanted to be. To her surprise, however, he was smiling as he held up a baseball. “Look what Nate brought us.”

Leaning in, Dorie saw that it was signed by no less than twelve Red Sox players.

“Brown-noser,” Colin said, throwing a balled-up napkin at Nate.

Who just grinned as he reached for an apron. “What can I do, Mrs. Donelli? Bacon? Eggs? I make a mean cinnamon roll.”

“Aw…,” Sean said. “Look—Mom finally got the girl she always wanted.”

“Sexist much?” Dorie asked, although she couldn’t deny the warmth that threaded through her as she watched the men she loved. All of them.

Amidst a great deal of laughter, Nate just smiled wider as he wrapped the apron strings around his waist and tied them. “Watch out, old man, I just might try and get myself signed to the Yankees. And then what are you going to do?”

“Old man?!” Sean snapped, though he was smiling, too. He stood up and reached for an apron of his own, beating Nate to the fridge and pulling out two dozen eggs. “I’ve only got a few years on you. And I can take you down in anything. Just name it.”

“Hold on,” Tommy said, standing up. “Is this about to be a bake-off? Between Sean and Nate?” He rolled up his sleeves. “I’m in.”

“Aw, hell.” Irritated, Colin pushed his coffee cup aside. “I call scones. Mom, you have raisins, right?”

Sophie, having just walked in, came to a sudden stop when she saw the chaos in the kitchen with Christopher and Jack now joining the fray as well. Eyebrows raised, she looked over at the almost empty table, at which only Dorie, Claudia, and Dorie’s dad were now sitting. “Is this really happening?” she asked. “I mean, I thought we were going for our fittings today. Am I having some weird dream?” She pinched herself.

Eyes glistening as emotion threatened to overcome her, Dorie looked over at Nate. As though he’d heard her thoughts, Nate looked up right then, the happiness in his eyes mirroring her own. His smiled broadened when his gaze caught hers.

A dream. That’s exactly what it was. And as he was proving to her every day, they did come true.

THE END

Note from Jen: so if you’re like me, then you may have perhaps read the epilogue before you actually read the book. No judgement here! But if that does happen to be your jam and now you’re interested in reading Nate and Dorie’s story, you can go ahead and one-click it now at http://amzn.to/2diLwcS. Or if you’d like to read more about CALLING IT or my other books, you can head back over to my Books page. Thank you for reading!