Once upon a Christmas morning, several years later, our bedroom door flies open. Before either Theo or I can open our eyes three pint-sized bundles of energy bounce onto the bed.
“What time is it?” I mumble.
“Too early,” Theo replies in an equally groggy voice.
“It is morning,” four-year-old Daphne practically sings.
“Christmas morning,” her twin Eloise adds.
I open one eye. “It’s still dark.”
“The hands on the clock say it is morning,” Colin says. At six years old, he knows more about telling time than his younger siblings.
“Where exactly is the little hand on the clock?” Theo asks.
“It is between the seven and the eight. Just as you said it should be before we came in.”
“Just as we said,” I mutter under my breath.
It’s still a wonder to me that I’m raising little princes and princesses. Little princes and princesses who speak like they are child actors in a Hallmark movie.
I suppose it is only fitting as their father still sounds like an Austen hero.
Theo and I have been married for more than seven years now. We’ve lived here at the palace for the past five. Even after all that time, I still often wonder if I will wake up and find that it has all been a dream.
Not that there is any worry about it being a dream this morning. Theo and I were up until four putting together a toy kitchen for the twins and a motorized car for Colin. We may be the future king and queen of Yulestarn, but there are some tasks we’ll never outsource.
Besides, I’m still the same dentist who was born and raised in Wisconsin. Only I’ve now set up my practice in the village, where I see patients three times a week in between my royal duties.
Thank goodness Anthony hadn’t asked for anything that needed putting together. That’s the perk of asking for a new gaming system. There was no assembly required. At fourteen, he’s growing into such a smart and kind young man. If I didn’t know better, I’d think that he was born and raised here. He plays on every team, makes good grades, and is the world’s most devoted big brother.
Which is why I’m surprised he isn’t here with the rest of the crew.
“Where is your big brother?”
“He went to wake grandfather,” Eloise says. “I hope he brought some candy.”
I have no doubt he did. After closing the shop back in Wisconsin, he opened a smaller, thriving storefront right next to my office. He likes to joke that we’re a one-stop family business. He rots our customers’ teeth, and I save them.
A dentist’s work is never done. Even if she also happens to be a princess.
Daphne stares up at me with her beautiful mossy green eyes. “May we begin Christmas, Mummy and Papa?”
See what I mean? It’s both adorable and weird to have children who talk like this.
Under the covers, Theo finds my hand. My heart skips a beat. That’s another thing that still catches me off-guard. The fact that I get to spend every day of my life walking hand in hand with this man that I love with every fiber of my being.
May I never take that—or him—for granted.
“What do you say, my dear?” He slides his thumb over my wrist, sending my pulse racing. His stare is serious and intense and extremely sexy. “Shall we begin Christmas?”
While I can think of one thing, in particular, I would rather do at this very moment, I suppose it will have to wait until later. Maybe once the children are distracted with their presents, my prince and I can sneak off to celebrate Christmas in our own way.
My lower belly tingles in anticipation of what will surely come later.
“Yes, we shall.” The children burst into applause.
As I give his hand a squeeze, our bedroom door opens again. Anthony pokes his head inside. “Did they say we could get started?”
There’s another resounding cheer. Then, after pressing noisy, wet kisses to our cheeks, the three little ones chase after their big brother. I suppose we had better get out of bed to make good on our promise.
With a sigh, I turn to my side. Theo follows my lead and raises our linked hands to his lips.
He kisses the back of my hand. “Merry Christmas, my princess.”
“Merry Christmas, my love.”
I have no doubt it will be a very merry Christmas. Every Christmas with Theo, our family, and this strange but beautiful life we have is better than the last. We are truly living happily ever after.
* * *
Thank you for reading this bonus epilogue for Peanut Brittle & The Prince! Want to see Theo’s cousins find their own happily ever afters? Check out the Ridiculously Royal series.
In the mood for more holiday cheer? Read the Holidays with a Mountain Man series.