Noah turned and saw me, running into my arms. I held him close, reveling in how good it felt to have him in my arms. Jake joined us, hugging us both. I’d never felt so lucky before.
Dad was stable, and Mom insisted we go down to Clayton Falls to spend Christmas with Jake’s family. I argued at first, until I realized she wanted time alone with him. With a heavy heart, I said goodbye to my dad knowing it was probably the last time I’d get the chance to. Jake held my hand the whole way home. I didn’t have to say anything, he knew I needed it. Saying goodbye to Dad was hard, but finally talking to him about everything was like having a weight removed from my chest. I could finally look back at the good memories, remember the amazing father I’d grown up with.
I’d never spent Christmas outside of Ridgeview. Even in all the chaos of Tim’s death, I’d made it home. I expected Christmas Eve to be depressing, but Jake made sure it wasn’t. We went to dinner at his parents’ house before we came home to decorate the tree. We hadn’t had time to do it before leaving for Ridgeview. Noah and I hadn’t officially moved in, but we had enough there that it really did feel like home. Jake and I stayed up late preparing everything for Noah before finally turning in well after eleven.
“Merry Christmas.” I opened my eyes to find Jake watching me.
“Merry Christmas. How long have you been up?”
“A while. I had to make sure everything was ready.”
“But we did all of that last night. The stockings, Noah’s gifts—”
“But I had to get yours ready.”
I sat up. “It’s the kind of gift you had to get ready?”
I admired the necklace Jake had clasped around my neck. “It’s beautiful.” It was a simple chain with a small diamond on the end.
“I’m glad you like it.” He shifted nervously. “But there’s something I want to talk to you about.”
He took both of my hands. “I know I haven’t earned it yet, but one day I’m going to earn your forever, and Noah’s too. I’m going to be the man by your side through everything, the one you come home to, the one you wake up with for the rest of your life.”
“You’ve already earned our forever.”
He smiled. “Good. That means I can give you the rest of your present.”
I held my breath as he went down on one knee in front of me. He took my left hand. “You’re my angel, my love, my everything. You make me a man I can be proud of, a man I never thought I could be. Marry me, Emily. Make me the luckiest person alive.”
I could barely get the word out. “Yes.” He slipped a ring on my finger before standing up and wrapping his arms around me. His lips crushed against mine, and I savored the feel, and the taste.
“There’s still one more question.”
“What is it?”
“I said I want both your forevers. I need Noah’s too.”
“Are you saying you—”
“I want to adopt him.”
I nodded. “Yes.” There was no one else who could possibly be a better father to my son.
“Just so you know, your dad gave me permission.”
“What? You asked him?”
“There are some things I like to do traditionally.”
“You asked him that first night, didn’t you?”
Jake smiled. “Yeah. He asked if I was serious about you, and I told him as serious as I could be. It was the perfect time to ask.”
I hugged him. “Thank you. Thank you for asking.”
“Of course. Do you like the ring? It was my grandmother’s. I’d be more than happy to buy you a new one, but when my mom showed me this last night, it just seemed like you.”
“It’s perfect.” I ran a finger over the beautiful diamond and pearl stones. I loved that it was a family ring. There was nothing more important in life than family.
“Should we go find Noah?”
Jake took my hand, and we walked into Noah’s room. He woke up when he heard the door open and leapt out of bed.
“Merry Christmas, baby.” I picked him up and hugged him.
“Em, Noah, come here,” Jake called excitedly.
“What?” I met him at the window. A light flurry of snowflakes fell from the sky. “It’s snowing.”
Jake smiled. “Let’s get coats.”
“We’re in pajamas.”
I laughed and got Noah in his coat, putting on mine as well. We all walked out into the light flurry. It probably wouldn’t amount to much, but it was still amazing to see.
“This has to be a sign. I can’t remember it ever snowing on Christmas here.”
“What’s it a sign of?” I looked down at the sparkling ring on my finger.
“An incredible future.”
Jake leaned down to kiss me, and I knew I’d be kissing those lips for the rest of my life.