Surprise Epilogue, Joy of My Heart

****Pssst, you should really read Joy of My Heart first!****

 

The university auditorium was hot. So hot.

Veronica fanned herself as she sat beside Lucas, waiting for Tyrone and then Roscoe to walk across the stage.

She felt every bit the proud parent. A little weepy, too—she’d been that way for the past couple of weeks. Since Belo and Abuela had made over the cabin to be a snug home for themselves, with privacy and yet help nearby, she and Lucas would be rattling around in the big house alone.

Tyrone walked across the stage to get his diploma and she jumped up and cheered. Too quickly, because darkness threatened the edges of her eyes. She grabbed Lucas’s arm.

“Are you okay?” he asked, always solicitous.

“I’m fine. Got up too fast. Did you get a picture?”

He nodded. “Look, it’s almost Roscoe’s turn.”

“I’m so stinkin’ proud of those boys.”

“Me, too.” He fist-bumped her.  And then Roscoe walked across the stage, still a big boy, but with a spring in his step and his head held confidently high.

After Roscoe and Tyrone were graduated, they joined other excited parents and graduates. Roscoe’s mother was here, thrilled. Tyrone’s parents hadn’t come, but the Quintana brothers and Lucas made sure that he got plenty of attention and praise.

Veronica had volunteered to help with the food, much of it catered from El Corazon. As she carried a tray of enchiladas to a hot pad, the aroma rose up and overwhelmed her. She was going to have to set it down, and she looked around frantically.

Lucas appeared and took it out of her arms. “Let me carry that. You’re not looking so good.”

“Thanks a lot,” she snapped.

He just lifted his eyebrows and carried the tray toward the serving table.

She shouldn’t snap at her wonderful husband. She watched him, tears rising to her eyes. They were so blessed.

Abuela came over in her Sunday finest, accompanied by a couple of her friends. It was touching the way the whole community had come out for Roscoe and Tyrone’s college graduation, supplying them with the large extended family they didn’t have by biology. That was Arcadia Valley.

“It’s a fine celebration,” Abuela said.

“It is,” Veronica sniffed. “I don’t know why I’m so teary, except that they’re really grown up now. They’ll get farther and farther away, and I’ll miss them.”

“Is that any excuse for snapping at your loving husband?” Lucas teased, coming over to put an arm around her.

Abuela’s head jerked back and she stared at Veronica. Her eyes crinkled, and she glanced over at her friends, then took Lucas and Veronica aside, each by an arm.

“Why didn’t you tell your abuela you were expecting?”

Veronica laughed. “We’re not expecting!”

“Are you sure?”

Lucas’s face flushed. “It’s really unlikely, Abuela. With all the chemo I’ve gone through, it would take a miracle—”

“You don’t believe in miracles?” Abuela asked. Then she turned to Veronica. “You might want to look at your calendar and do a bit of counting.”

Which Veronica did, in her head. She couldn’t remember when she’d had her last period. Certainly, not for a couple of months, which now that she thought about it, was unusual for her.

And she’d been so emotional lately. And sensitive to smells.

Lucas and Abuela watched her, both with expectant, hopeful eyes.

“Lucas?” she said, putting one hand on her belly and one on his arm. “I think we just might have a miracle coming our way.”

Juan Quintana Ruiz was born the next Christmas day.

 

If you love the Arcadia Valley romances, why not order the next in series? Valerie Comer’s Harvest of Love takes place in Arcadia Valley, and features a bookstore owner heroine… and a hero who has a very good reason to avoid books and reading. Learn more here. 

 

 

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