Thank you so much for reading Stay for Me. I loved this series more than you can imagine and when I got to the end, I knew I needed just a little bit more time. Because, can we ever have too much Arrowood Brothers? I don’t think so. I hope you enjoy this Bonus Scene from Jacob’s point of view.
“You ready for this? It’s a big night,” I tell Sebastian as he looks out at the stage.
“Break a leg, son.”
He smiles and claps me on the arm. “It’s nice having a director who actually knows what he’s doing.”
I roll my eyes and laugh softly. “It’s nice that your director has performers who actually know how to act.”
He gives me a grin and then goes to his place among the cast. It’s crazy that we’re here, fifteen years since the first play I was supposed to direct, and Sebastian is at his opening night on Broadway. I don’t know that I could be any prouder of him than I am right now. He followed his dream, worked hard, and did it without any help from me.
I head to the front where Brenna, my brothers, and sisters-in-law are all waiting. Brenna and I came in last night. Owen is staying with the Allens as they’ve basically adopted our son as their grandchild as well and he has a football game tomorrow. Which gives me and my lovely wife a night on the town.
“Did you see him before?” Sean asks.
“Yeah, he looks ready.”
Brenna smiles up at me. “You look like you’re nervous.”
“I am. This is a big role to fill.”
Connor laughs. “Because it was yours?”
Sebastian isn’t only in a play, he’s the lead in a play that is based on a movie that I starred in. When the writers decided to adapt it from film to stage, I should’ve known that Sebastian would audition.
Brenna wraps her hand around my arm. “I’m sure he will do it justice.”
“Oh, I know he will. He’s going to be better than I was, that’s what I’m worried about.”
Declan snorts. “It’s sad when our kids are better at things than we were.”
Sydney grins. “Deacon already has done well with profits this year. He’s working with a big client that Declan couldn’t get.”
“No shit,” Sean agrees. “I swear, Austin is going to blow all of my records. He already did for his rookie year.”
Devney shakes her head and looks to Brenna. “If they let women play in the MLB, then he’d really need to be worried.”
“For real, Cassandra is better than any of us at sports,” Sean agrees. “I guarantee she’ll end up in the Olympics or something.”
Their daughter is a savant. That’s the only word that can accurately describe her talent with sports. It doesn’t matter what one she tries, she excels. She’s already being scouted for college softball, and she’s only in middle school. It’s crazy, but she’s truly gifted.
“Maybe they’ll have professional sports for women by then. You know, real ones that are actually funded.”
“Well, if anyone is going to fight for it, it’s Hadley,” Connor says with pride. “She was in court today with the new law firm she signed on with, fighting a women’s rights issue.”
Syd smiles. “She’s pretty impressive. She’s doing well at the law firm.”
My nieces and nephews are all pretty impressive if you ask me. Hadley got out of law school with a single goal: to fight for causes that matter. She’s not afraid of anyone standing in her way because she’ll bowl them over. After everything she saw her mother go through, women’s issues and protection was where her heart led her.
She just moved to New York City about a year ago and is already making a name for herself.
“I can’t believe she’s so new at it too,” Ellie says. “I hate her living out here alone.”
“She’s not really alone,” Brenna reminds her. “Melanie is her roommate.”
Right on cue. “Mom, Dad.” Melanie’s voice calls from behind us. “Sorry I’m late!”
And nothing is as impressive as my kids. Nothing. I never knew becoming a stepfather would be like this, but it’s incredible. They call me Dad, mostly because it was awkward for them not to when Owen did and because I treated them all the same. No one in our home gets special treatment regardless of bloodline. Once Owen came around, it just became sort of natural to be all of their dad, which has been the greatest blessing in my life.
“Hey, sweetheart,” I say as I kiss her cheek.
“You look very handsome.”
I grin. “I was dressed by the best.”
“Well, I do try.”
Brenna hugs her and then fusses with her hair. “You are working too much. When is the last time you got a haircut?”
Melanie shakes her head. “I’m fine. I’m busy with the new line that launches next week. I’ll get a haircut when it’s over. That color is great on you.”
“I love the design and the designer.”
Melanie blushes a little. “I wanted you to feel gorgeous and not overdone.”
I pull Brenna to my side. “She is always gorgeous.”
Her blue eyes look up to mine, and the love I see there is enough to bring me to my knees. “And you’re perfect.”
“Only for you.”
Connor groans. “You’d think after this long they’d be less disgusting in public.”
I look to him with one brow raised. “Tell me which one of you loves your wife less than the day you married her? Anyone? Do you not all look at them and wonder what the fuck we ever did in this world to deserve them?”
“Every damn day,” Declan replies.
“For real,” Sean agrees.
Connor shrugs. “I know I still don’t deserve her.”
“Exactly. So, yes, I love my wife. I let her know. I don’t give a shit if every camera is clicking, in fact, I hope they do.” I take her face in my palms and kiss her. After a second, I pull back, staring at her. “I hope they all see how much I love you.”
Brenna’s hands rest on my chest. “I know I do.”
Melanie makes a gagging sound. “You guys are really adorable, but so gross.”
I pull both the girls to my side. “It’s only because I love you all so much.”
That’s the thing about our lives now. That will my father made, that sentence to return home that felt like a punishment, ended up being a gift. I’m not forgiving enough to think he did it for our benefit, but it worked out that way, and I think that was my mother. If anyone could’ve taken the four broken boys and mended them, it was her.
She brought us back home, made us deal with our demons, and guided us to find a way to live the lives we’d been denying ourselves filled with love, good women, and children.
Just then, Hadley arrives. “I’m so sorry I’m late! I had a deposition and . . . anyway, I’m here now.” She kisses all of our cheeks and smiles bright. “Everyone is looking all spiffy and not at all like you just came off the farm.”
Connor shakes his head. “We aren’t all city folk.”
“Please, Dad, you are not going to even try that.”
Hadley is probably one of the very few New Yorkers who has a horse boarded. She was not even willing to entertain not having access to riding when she needed it.
He pulls her close, kisses her temple. “Yeah, yeah, I know, you can’t take the country out of the girl.”
We chat a bit more, everyone asking about what’s new. I am directing my first movie this year. Brenna’s private practice is thriving as she found she enjoyed couples counseling for celebrities. We bounce between our house in Sugarloaf during most of the year and Hollywood for the summer. It keeps the kids grounded and remembering their roots as well as granting us a chance to be a normal family.
Not that anyone is normal in this crew.
“Ready to head in?” Declan asks.
As my family walks in and takes up the fourth row, looking up at the stage, I realize just how damn lucky I am.
I have my brothers.
I have my kids.
And I have Brenna.
Everything that I thought I would never have is in this room. A life of happiness. A family I would give my life for. And love. So much fucking love that I could drown in it.
I lean over, taking her hand in mine. “Thank you.”
Confusion flares in her eyes. “For?”
“Everything. You gave me everything.”
Thank you so much for coming on this journey with me. The Arrowood Brothers have owned my entire heart and soul. I can’t begin to tell you how bittersweet this ending is for me. As I was writing Jacob’s plane crash, Jessica spoke to me. Very, very loudly. Here was this girl, struggling to be so strong because it was her job, and worrying she would die.
I’m beyond excited to announce the next series will start with Jessica Walker and Grayson Parkerson (you MIGHT know that last name from Sean’s book)! I hope you’re ready to head to our next small town because Return to Us is coming and it’s going to be SO good!