One year later.
Julia drove as fast as she could without getting pulled over. That was the last thing she needed when she was already running late. Her therapist had been behind schedule, and then Julia had hit traffic on her way out of Orlando and back to Diamond Cove.
She’d been seeing her therapist for the last eleven months, and in that time, she’d learned so much. How to set good boundaries. How to value herself and her time. And she loved how she felt about herself as she put the time and effort into working on those skills.
She drove past the sign welcoming her to Diamond Cove, and she couldn’t keep the huge grin off her face as she pressed the gas pedal down just a smidge more. Her book: Loving Lulu had come out in May, and she’d just heard from her publisher that she’d hit a national bestseller list for children’s books.
She let herself squeal in excitement again. She could hardly believe it. She’d just finished a second book about Lulu, this one about how when her sister goes missing, she goes searching for her and meets a lot of unexpected friends along the way. Her publisher was talking about making Lulu stories into an entire series, and even turning some of them into early readers for schools and board books.
She and Logan had been planning on meeting for dinner anyway, and he told her that now they’d be celebrating this accomplishment as well. She’d told him she wanted Italian, so he’d made reservations for the tiny Italian restaurant on the pier.
She finally found a spot—downtown Diamond Cove was always busy on the weekends—and rushed into the restaurant, looking at her watch. She was only ten minutes late. That wasn’t too bad.
The dining room seemed too quiet, and when she looked up from placing her keys and sunglasses in her purse, her heart stopped.
Because the entire restaurant was filled with people she loved.
Her parents and Cameron. Grandma Winnie and Grandpa Horace, who had grown to absolutely love Logan. Her sister, Eliana. Lydia and Smitty Byrd, holding hands. Polly, Rosa and her husband, Don, Harry and his wife Virginia, Walt, and Nancy. Kai. Logan’s dad with his new girlfriend of the day. Willow, wearing scrubs and a huge smile on her face.
In fact, everyone had a huge smile on their face.
“Wait. How did you know? I just heard about it …”
She turned and saw Logan standing beside her, a velvet box in his hands. She gasped and covered her mouth as her eyes welled with tears.
“I know this is your special day, and I’m hoping you’ll be willing to share it with another special occasion too.”
Her heart zipped into hyperdrive, and she barely resisted the urge to squeal in excitement.
With a wide grin, he got down on one knee. “Julia Peters. I’ve never loved anyone the way I love you. You lighten up my days with your smile, and when I’m with you, I feel like we’re shooting with the stars.” He flipped the ring box open. “Will you marry me?”
She didn’t have to think about her answer for one second. “Yes!” She hugged him so hard he fell back onto the ground with her on top of him. They laughed as everyone behind them whistled and cheered.
And she kissed him deeply, not caring that they were still lying on the ground and everyone was watching.
“How in the world did you get everyone here?” she whispered.
“I’ve been planning this for a month,” he told her. “Now, do you want to tell them your good news?”
“They just saw my good news play out.”
He smiled in a way that made her wish she could lie here all night kissing him. “The other good news.”
“Ohhhh. That means I’ve got to get up,” she pouted.
Some of the whistling started to turn suggestive, so she rolled off of him with a groan. “Fine.”
Logan helped her up, and she stood in front of the group. “I have some good news in addition to this. But first …” She wiggled her fingers toward Logan. “I want my ring.”
Everyone laughed as he pulled it from the box. It was a gorgeous, round-cut amethyst set in white gold. She slipped it on her finger and it fit perfectly.
“When I saw it, I thought of you,” he said quietly, just for her.
He’d told her before that he always thought of her when he saw lavender.
“What’s your news?” her mom asked, looking like she was about to burst with anticipation.
“Lulu just hit the national bestseller list!”
Everyone screamed and cheered and she was enfolded into more hugs than she could count. A waitress brought around a family-style meal for everyone to share, but the food was largely ignored while everyone wanted to see her ring or congratulate her on her book and her engagement.
“It’s a good thing you said yes,” Willow said. “His back-up plan to convince you was awful.”
Logan gave his sister an affronted look. “It was brilliant. In fact”—he nodded at Rosa—”take it away, Rosa!”
“Unbreak My Heart” blasted from the speakers. “Vaya! Not again,” Rosa muttered. “Just a minute!” she called out. “I’ve got this.”
“I love this song,” Polly whispered loudly. “So pretty.”
Logan and Julia shared an amused smile.
“Okay, here it is.” Rosa navigated her phone and pressed play.
“Hey, Mickey” sounded over the speakers, and Julia raised her eyebrows.
“Is this the right song?” she asked Logan dubiously.
His hips had already started to shake. “This is our song, Julia. The first song we ever danced to.”
“What?” She laughed as his shoulders joined in with his dancing.
“When we were in downtown Diamond Cove to talk about your book for the first time. It’s when I knew I loved you for sure. Before that, I only suspected it.”
“But we’d only known each other for like a week.”
“I know.” He took her hand and pulled her close. “Dance with me?”
“Forever,” she whispered.
Cameron broke in between them, his hands raised over his head. “Dance!” he yelled.
And they all laughed as they joined in, one huge dancing party to “Hey Mickey.” She looked over the group at Logan. He reached out his hand and she took it, knowing she’d never let go of him again.
Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed Logan and Julia’s story. One of the very best ways to help an author is to leave a review! It helps new readers decide if they’re going to give a book a chance, and it bumps the book up in the search algorithms so more people can find it. As Winnie would say…or text: ((hugs!))
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The matchmaking adventures in Diamond Cove continue …watch for Eliana’s story, coming October 2022.