Stay a Little Longer Bonus Epilogue



“Just one more picture by the fireplace,” Athena urged.

“Mooooom. You’re getting as bad as Ari.” Heaving an epic teenaged sigh, Dylan combed a hand through his shock of dark hair, and dutifully posed for one more picture in the tux they’d rented for his senior prom.

She snapped a photo of her eldest son, ignoring the tightness in the back of her throat. “No. If I were as bad as Ari, I’d be following you over to pick up your date to get photos with her.” Pausing, she took one more shot. “I’m trusting Gina’s parents to adequately perform that duty and share later.”

Athena didn’t miss the eye roll. Or the tiny smirk of pleasure on her son’s face as he turned away, jingling the truck keys in his pocket.

“Okay, enough. I’m going to be late if I don’t leave now.”

Logan strode over, brushing imaginary lint off Dylan’s shoulders and straightening his tie. Athena snapped a picture of that, too.

“Now, what are the rules?” Logan prompted.

“No drinking. Be respectful. Consent is everything. And if I need a ride for any reason, call and you’ll come without question.”

“Good man. And don’t forget the most important one.”

“What’s that?”

Athena stepped up beside her husband, wrapping an arm around his waist. “Have fun.

Dylan grinned. “Oh, yeah. That. Will do. Night!”

She watched him go, resisting the overpowering urge to follow him out and wave until he was out of sight—mostly because she felt perilously close to tears.

Logan pulled her in, pressing a kiss to her brow. “He’s just gone for the night.”

“For now. But senior prom, Logan. Graduation is right around the corner, and then he is off for culinary school. I couldn’t be happier that he’s following in my footsteps, but God, I’m not ready. And Jesse’s only two years behind. He’s driving for God’s sake.” He was, in fact, out right now with his friends. “How the hell are we old enough to have two kids nearly out of high school?”

“Well, the not giving birth to them helped. You’d have only been sixteen when Dylan was born, which is technically feasible but…” When she only scowled up at him, he continued, “My point is, we’re not actually old, darlin’. We just started with almost teenagers.”

Feeling bittersweet about the whole thing, she snuggled into his arms. “If it’s this hard after only six years, I have no idea how parents who raise them from infants do it.”

“It’s been good, though. Having the two of them. Seeing them plant roots with us and thrive.”

“The best. Mom would’ve loved seeing that. She’d have adored all the babies from my sisters, too. But she had a special spot in her heart for adoption and fosters.”

Logan tucked the hair behind her ear. “And so do you.”

Uncomfortable with the big swell of emotion at that, she shrugged. “Seems I do. I guess I’m just not ready for it to be over yet. Those two years before Jesse follows his brother off to college are going to be over in a blink. And I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself.”

“Are you thinking about giving up The Misfit Kitchen and all the cookbooks?”

In its eighth season, her web series had racked up awards, and three of her cookbooks had hit the New York Times Best-Seller list. She’d more than made up for any scandal that had followed her from Olympus. But it turned out she actually adored being a mom. She’d absolutely loved doing for Dylan and Jesse what Joan had done for her.

“No. Although it might be fun to change things up a bit and try a different angle. Moses had some ideas there. I’m not worried about my professional aspirations. I just… don’t know if I’m going to be satisfied with only that.”

Realizing how that sounded, she squeezed Logan tight. “I don’t mean that how it came out. Of course, there will be a multitude of prospective benefits to being just us in the house again.”

He grinned and nuzzled her neck. “Mmm, counter sex.”

She laughed. “You’re not wrong. But…” How could she say what she was actually thinking? How could she ask it of him?

Logan straightened, looking down at her with love and understanding, as he always had. “But you want to do it all again. Add to the family.”

Athena bit her lip. “Yeah. Yeah, I really do. There are so many kids out there who need a place. And we have one.”

Backing toward the sofa, Logan sat, pulling her into his lap. “Well, then, that’s handy, as I already put in a call to social services to see about getting us back on the list.”

Stunned, she framed his face. “You did?”

He nodded. “I know you, Athena Reynolds Maxwell. I know the boys filled something deeper for you. They do for me, too. So yeah, I thought we ought to look into doing it again.”

Overjoyed, she threw her arms around him, taking his mouth in a hard, smacking kiss. “I love you so much, Farmer Boy.”

“Back atcha, Chef.”

“Do you think the boys will be okay with this?”

Her husband nodded. “Yeah. I think they’ll be good with it. Jesse would appreciate getting to be the big brother, for once. And I think it’ll help ease the sting when Dylan’s off at culinary school.”

“Then we’re settled?”

“I think so.”

As she stared at Logan’s familiar face, she noted the changes. He had more lines around his eyes, a little bit of gray at his temples, a little more in his beard. But he still took her breath away.

Grabbing his hand, she tugged him up. “Come on.”

“Where are we going?”

She towed him through the house. “As you so rightly pointed out, both the boys are out for the night. I thought we could go to the kitchen. To celebrate.”

Tugging his t-shirt over his head, Logan grinned. “Hell yes, Chef. I love the way you think.”

* * *

Sigh. I do love these two. In case you missed it, you can get a front-row seat to their wedding in What I Like About You, which follows the love story of Logan’s baby sister Laurel and horse-trainer Sebastian Donnelly.

If you’re eager to finish up The Misfit Inn quartet, head on over to Bring It On Home for Maggie and Porter’s friends to lovers romance.

Happy reading!