Thank you so much reading One Last Time. Noah and Kristin were an amazing couple to spent time with. I wasn’t able to leave them so easily, therefore, you don’t have to either! I hope you enjoy this bonus epilogue where you can see Noah and Kristin quite a little ways down the road. Love, Corinne
“You ready for this?” The most beautiful woman in my life asks. Kristin stands before me in a long red dress with her hair pulled up.
It doesn’t matter how many years I’ve been with her, how many more silver strands are in her hair now, or how much she claims she’s not happy with her body, she’s perfect to me.
“To give her away? Not even close,” I admit.
Today, Aubrey will marry some moron who isn’t good enough for her. I hate him. Well, not really, but today he’s a prick who is taking my daughter from me.
She may not be biologically mine, but I’ve been a father to her since she was six.
The worst part is that he’s an actor. I hate actors.
Kristin smiles as if she can read my mind. “You introduced them.”
“Doesn’t mean I wanted him to date my daughter,” I counter.
She fixes my tie and tries to cover her giggle with a cough. “Right. I mean, why you thought that bringing our twenty-three-year-old daughter to the set of a movie so she could meet her biggest crush was a good idea . . . I’ll never know.”
I grumble under my breath and walk to the window.
Kristin’s hand slides over my shoulder. I grab it, loving the big ass rock that shows the world she’s mine. We were married two months after she finally agreed in a small ceremony with just the four of us. Finn was my best man and Aubrey was her maid of honor. We wanted no fanfare, just family.
Unlike Aubrey, who tried very hard to drain my rather impressive bank account with her freaking wedding.
Take the two most expensive things, Christmas and a wedding, combine them, and you have a glimpse into the shit-show this is. Somehow, we’re paying for the entire wedding, even though the fucker she’s marrying is loaded.
Not that I would’ve let the punk use his money anyway. That headline would’ve been great for me.
Her other father, on the other hand, could’ve contributed more than only paying for the flowers, but Scott knows I’ll never deny those kids. He plays his part well.
“Aubrey loves him, Noah.” Kristin squeezes my hand. “You love her, and now you’re going to act like you’re happy about this.”
“But I’m not,” I reply.
“Good thing you’re a great actor then.”
The door opens, and my lungs stop working. Aubrey enters the room in the dress that cost the same as a brand-new Honda Civic, and I can’t breathe. She’s glowing. The little girl who made me feed stuffed animals, got me in trouble for always giving in, and gave me more love than I deserved is all grown up.
“Aub,” I say once I can finally speak.
“Do you like it?”
“You look stunning.” I walk forward and kiss her cheek.
Kristin sniffs, and we both look over. “Already, Mom?” Aubrey laughs.
“You’re just so perfect.” Kristin wipes under her eyes. “It’s because . . . you’re my little girl.”
Aubrey looks at me like her mother is unglued, and I wink. I take Kristin in my arms and hold her close. She’s been crying like this the last few days. Between the wedding, us splitting our time between Los Angeles and Tampa, and Aubrey moving to New York because dipshit took a job on a television show there, she’s feeling lost.
I thought she cried a lot when Finn found out he was going to be stationed in Hawaii, but this is far worse. At Finn’s graduation, she kept saying he was adorable in his uniform. I had to correct her with words like manly, protector, military, and other . . . tough words. Kristin will always see them as her babies.
“It’s okay, sweetheart.”
Kristin’s blue eyes meet mine, and she pulls it together. Aubrey walks over and hugs her mom. “I love you, Mom.”
“I love you more, Aubrey Nicole McGee. You turned into a beautiful woman, and I’m so proud of you.”
I watch Aubrey’s lip tremble, and I know I need to shut this estrogen-fest down. “Okay, how about we leave now?”
“Leave?” They both say.
“Yes, it’s clear that neither of you are mature enough for this wedding since you’re both blubbering. Might as well head out before Skippy realizes he’s not good enough for you.” I shrug. It seems like a completely viable option.
“Dad.” Aubrey groans. “His name isn’t Skippy, it’s Kale, and we’re getting married today.”
“Kale is a food, not a name.”
“Noah!” Kristin chides.
“What? It’s a dumb name and you know it. For that fact alone, she shouldn’t have to marry him. He’s a freaking food! Skippy at least is a cool name. Kale,” I scoff. “Not to mention, he’s not good enough for her anyway. She went to Yale. She’s brilliant, and he’s a leafy green vegetable that wishes it was spinach. Skippy is at least a peanut butter.”
Kristin slaps my shoulder. “Knock it off. Your assholeness is showing.”
It worked. I swear, I should write a book on how to handle the McGee women. Diversion is always a home run.
There’s a quick knock on the door and Finn pops his head in. “You guys almost ready? I’m pretty sure the wedding planner’s head is about to pop off. She said something about Mom yelling at her.”
“I didn’t yell, I told her to go to hell when she said I couldn’t come back here and see Aubrey.”
“And you say I’m an asshole?” I point out, which based on the glare, wasn’t the right thing to say.
Finn chuckles. “Come on, Mom. It’s my turn to walk you down the aisle.”
She smiles at her very grown son and nods.
“Be good,” she points at me.
Please, like I need the reminder. “I’m always good.”
Kristin presses her lips to mine, taps my chest in some sort of code that I’m not privy to, and then hugs Aubrey. She doesn’t say a word, which I think is because she’s about to start with the waterworks again, and leaves the room.
I stand here with Aubrey, wanting to say so much but not knowing where to start.
“Dad,” she speaks first. “Thank you. Thank you for everything. I know I wasn’t always easy, and I drove you and Mom nuts, but you were always a father when you didn’t have to be. Even with this wedding, Daddy did nothing, but you didn’t blink. I just want you to know I love you, and I appreciate it.”
This girl kills me.
“Honey, there’s not a man in this world who loves you like I do. It’s me who should be thanking you. You allowed me the honor of being your second father and let me be on the other side of you down that aisle.”
Tears pool in her eyes, but she does that weird fanning her face thing. “I promised I wouldn’t cry.” She lets out a nervous laugh.
Scott enters the room, and she wraps her arms around him. It’s been damn near twenty years, and I still hate him. The only reason I tolerate him is because of those kids, well, adults now. I vowed when I entered their lives I’d always be respectful, and thanks to a lot of alcohol and years of acting lessons, I’ve done a damn good job.
If you asked Finn and Aubrey, they’d say I think the world of him. More like I wish the world would fall on top of him, crushing him like a bug.
“It’s time,” Scott says as he takes a step back. “Ready?”
Aubrey nods and then looks to me. “Dad?”
I swallow the words I want to say, telling her there’s no way in hell I’m ready for this, and just smile. “Let’s go.”
Scott and I flank her sides, and when the music keys, I’m taken back in time.
I remember her face when I got her the bike she wanted. The mess we made in the kitchen baking when Kristin was at work. The tears that filled my eyes when she cried that a boy told her she was ugly, and the pride I felt when Finn punched him in the face when he heard. She holds my arm, and I remember the time she and I danced at her big Hollywood gala. The time she first asked if she could call me Dad, and I remember my heart feeling like it grew a hundred times.
This is my little girl who I love.
This is the girl who has embedded herself in my heart and became mine the first time I met her.
I don’t want to give her away, but I have to.
As we make our way past the guests, my eyes meet the woman who made this moment possible.
Kristin stands at the end of the pew with tears streaming down her face. There stands the most wonderful, selfless, and breathtaking woman in the world. She gave me a life I didn’t know I was missing. Kristin loved me despite my faults and shared her most precious possessions—her children.
I’ve always loved her, more so than I even could quantify, but I realize now it’s more than that.
Kristin is the other half of my soul.
She’s everything good in the world, and I get to keep her.