Dancing to her Heart’s Rhythm – Extended Epilogue

“One two three! Hold that for a second, and that’s all.” Lauren brought her foot down to finish the ballet pose. “That’s it for class today. I’ll see everyone on Thursday,” Lauren called out to her twelve students. She loved teaching children ballet. It was a passion she had that she hadn’t even known about.

A little girl toward the back who was smaller than the rest made her way to the front.

“Mrs. Grant?” the girl asked.

“What is it, sweetie?” She wasn’t used to the kids calling her Mrs. Grant. She had only been officially married to Fletcher for two years. Even so, the name was growing on her.

“I can’t come on Thursday. I have a dentist appointment with my mom.”

“Oh.” Lauren reached out and squeezed the girl’s shoulder. “That’s quite all right. Thank you for letting me know. I’ll make a note of it, so it doesn’t mess up your attendance.”

“Thank you!” The little girl skipped back through the room and out the door where her older sister was waiting for her. Lauren watched her go fondly. She loved all of her students, especially the smaller ones. Being able to give the dream that she had once loved to others was a beautiful experience. She loved seeing the happy little smiles and the excited squeals whenever they accomplished a new step or whenever they learned a new dance. It was more rewarding than anything that Lauren had ever done before. Even her mother had come to accept it as a worthy career.

The relationship with her mom had changed so much in the past year. Lauren grinned at the thought. She and Fletcher were inviting both of their families over for lunch at their place for the first time this evening. She couldn’t wait. She wanted it to be perfect. She and Fletcher had worked so hard to save up and buy a little piece of farmland with a small house, and it was all their own.

It still needed work, and it wasn’t perfect yet, but it was a work of progress.

“Hey, is your class over?” Fletcher’s voice pulled her from her thoughts. He had come into the studio and she hadn’t even noticed because she was busy packing up her things.

“Yep, all the girls just left. There are still a few stragglers, but we can get going in about two minutes. Did you get the groceries on your way back from work?”

“I most certainly did. You know you don’thave to be so stressed out about this. My parents and your mom are going to love our place. I don’t know why you are so stressed out.”

“I know, but it’s just…I want them to be proud of us, you know?’

“I know.” Fletcher pulled her into a hug. “Are you going to change, or are we going out to lunch in that?”

“I’m changing.” Lauren grabbed her shirt and skirt and rushed to the bathroom. She wasn’t about to wear her yoga outfit to lunch. She only dressed like that for teaching classes. After she’d changed, she checked herself in the mirror. Her hair was going in every direction, but Fletcher wouldn’t mind. When she was happy with it, she went back out to where Fletcher was waiting. The rest of the parents had already taken their kids and the studio was empty.

“You know, I still can hardly believe that you are my wife now.” Fletcher leaned down and kissed her on the lips. She kissed him back, a burn filling her chest. She loved this man so much, sometimes it almost hurt.

“I can hardly believe it either, but it’s true. Now, husband, let’s go make our place presentable for our families. We have less than four hours till they get there.”

Fletcher chuckled and carried her duffle bag as he led her out to the truck. The ride home was uneventful, filled mostly with Lauren looking through the grocery bags and making sure that Fletcher got everything she needed for their dinner. She was doing her best to make spaghetti and meatballs. It sounded simple and she was hoping it would be wholesome and delicious, but she was still learning to cook.

When they pulled up to the house, Lauren started noticing all of the things that she hadn’t seen before that might look bad to her mom or Fletcher’s parents.

“We should move all the boxes from the living room.”

“Lauren.” Fletcher parked the truck and grabbed both of her hands.

“What?” Lauren felt the anxiety clawing up her chest. She wanted everything to be perfect.

“You need to stop worrying and stressing out. The truth is, even if my parents came over right now and all we had was canned soup to give them in our messy living room and they had to sit on boxes, they would be happy because they love us.”

“Okay.” Lauren nodded her head, though she still felt stressed about it.

“But even so, I am going to do everything I can to help you clean what you want to because I know it is important for you. Just try to be happy with what we finish.”

“Okay.” Lauren took a deep breath. She could let go of the imperfections and be happy with showing her mom and Fletcher’s family who they were. She knew she could do that, but it didn’t mean that they weren’t going to do everything possible to make things perfect.

“Besides you don’t want to stress yourself out too much in your condition.”

Lauren looked down at her stomach. There was no sign that anything was different. Her stomach was still flat like it always was, but she knew that there was something different. They had found out a week ago that they were expecting someone new to join their family.

“Are we going to tell them?” She and Fletcher had gone back and forth about whether they should wait or if they should tell their families right away. Of course, they were aware that their families had been waiting for this news for two whole years. They were going to be ecstatic when they found out.

“We should. We will tell them tonight. Now, let’s go fix up our house and a delicious meal no one will forget. You have quite the reputation to live up to, Mrs. Grant.”

Lauren laughed out loud. Mrs. Grant would always be Fletcher’s mom first. One day, maybe she would be more used to it than she was now. She hurried into the house, carrying just a couple of boxes of noodles on Fletcher’s insistence. She took them into the kitchen and got started. She had taken her time researching different recipes and different options for dinner to prepare for this moment. This was her time to impress everyone, and first impressions were important.

—*—

Fletcher looked around the living room, dining room, and kitchen. No, it wasn’t perfect and it didn’t look like their house was out of a magazine, but it was nice and homey in a good way. He was comfortable there, and he knew that his family would be, too. They would be focused on the food and the company and their new baby. They wouldn’t be focused on a few extra boxes. They wouldn’t be interested in the little details that weren’t perfect, or their lack of furniture. He knew his family would be happy with whatever they had.

Even so, he knew how much Lauren worried about it.

“So, what do you think?” Fletcher asked as she walked into the living room to join him.

“I think that it looks good. It looks a little rough around the edges, but we did pretty well. They’re going to be here any minute. Can you help me with the garlic bread? The salad is already done, the broccoli will be done in a few minutes, and the spaghetti and meatballs are finished.”

“You did wonderful with the food. I know that they are going to love it. If they hate it, I think I still have some frozen dinners in the freezer.”

Lauren gave him a gentle nudge in his ribs. “Hey, you said they would love it. Don’t change your mind or lose your faith in me now.”

Fletcher laughed. “I’m just teasing. Besides, with news like ours, no one is going to care. You know, do you ever think about what would have happened if you’d stayed in New York?”

“What?” Lauren’s eyes widened. “What makes you bring that up?”

“I don’t know. It’s just sometimes I start thinking about how if everything hadn’t worked together as it did, we might have never gotten to this point. To me, that is a miracle.”

Lauren nodded. “You’re right. I don’t think about it often, but then, Daisy and Naila are always telling me what happens over there. It’s interesting to hear how my life would have been if I stayed.”

“You don’t tell me much of this gossip,” Fletcher accused. He knew that she didn’t mean to keep anything from him, but sometimes she forgot. He liked to tease her about it. He liked to think that humor was a good part of their relationship.

“I do, too—I told you how Raven was fired after that whole situation where she admitted to tripping me. Also, apparently, Raven’s mom was sent to jail a couple of months ago.”

“Really? What for?” This was news to Fletcher. He didn’t exactly feel bad about it. He hadn’t liked Raven from the moment he saw her, and anyone who hurt Lauren deserved consequences.

“Well, she’s been trying to get Raven back on the dance team to perform on Broadway. She was caught trying to bribe one of the officials on the board. They launched an investigation. Apparently, her mom has always paid for her to get better positions and roles. Mason’s family was accused of the same thing, but they didn’t find any proof.”

“I see. Do you know what happened to Mason when he didn’t marry you?” Fletcher found the gossip interesting, but unimportant to their lives. That didn’t mean he didn’t want to know it.

“Are you sure you want to hear about that?”

“I’m sure.” Fletcher wrapped his arms around Lauren’s waist.

“Okay, well, his inheritance was automatically handed to his brother when he was caught trying to pay someone to marry him. Daisy and Naila were happy to report that he now has to dance because he needs the money.”

“Well, while all of this is quite interesting, we should probably go and finish dinner. We wouldn’t want our families to show up and have to serve frozen dinners.”

Lauren laughed and followed Fletcher as he hurried into the kitchen. Everything smelled delicious and he couldn’t wait to serve it to their families.

—*—

Fletcher grabbed Lauren and pulled her into the dining room. “Come on, Lauren, everything looks perfect. They’re all outside. Let’s welcome them together.”

“I’m coming.” Lauren put down the dishtowel and followed him to the doorway of the house. Fletcher opened the door and his whole family was standing there, along with Lauren’s mother.

“Welcome to our house,” Fletcher said, dramatically motioning for them to come in as if he were the doorman in the grand hotel or something.

“The place looks amazing. I don’t know why you both have been so secretive these past three weeks since you purchased the place.” Mrs. Grant gave them both a hug. “You both look amazing, too. Its’ been too long since we did a meal together. You know, you could have asked me to come and help cook.”

“I know,” Lauren smiled. “But I wanted this to be a dinner where we made it especially for both of you.”

“Okay, but next time, don’t hesitate to ask.”

“And I can always buy something, even though I am not great in the kitchen,” Lauren’s mom added in.

Lauren gave her a tight hug. “I’m glad to see you, mom.”

“You too, sweetheart.”

Lauren thought her mom looked happier. She and Fletcher weren’t the only changes that had taken place over the past couple of months. Her mom had sold the house and bought a smaller one that was more adequate for her to live alone in. Even though Fletcher and Lauren offered to have her move in with them, she refused and said that she preferred her privacy. Of course, Lauren understood, and she was glad that she had managed to find a good spot and get out of debt.

Even though the place was smaller, it had a decent-sized area for a dining room and she and Fletcher often showed up there to spend time with her mom.

Lauren led everyone into the living room and down the hall. She and Fletcher gave them a full tour, despite the mess, and they ended up in the dining room.

“I know it is sort of small, but make yourselves at home,” Fletcher said.

Even though Lauren said she could do it on her own, her mom and Mrs. Grant insisted on helping her serve dinner. Despite a few hiccups when she was cooking, in the end, it looked delicious and she had made it on her own. Once everyone had a plate in front of them, Mr. Grant said the blessing.

“Dear God, we ask that you bless this household and every family here. We ask that you give Lauren and Fletcher a good start here in their new home. We ask that you continue to bless both of our children in all of their endeavors. Please bless this food to our bodies, Amen.”

There was silence for a few long minutes as everyone focused on eating. Lauren was surprised by how well the food turned out. She was expecting it to be lacking in some way. Instead, everyone was raving about it. Even though it had taken a good two hours to prepare, it was gone in less than half an hour. When they were done with the food, Lauren went back into the kitchen and brought out some freshly baked banana bread.

“I know that I am not a professional baker like the other Mrs. Grant, but I did use her recipe. I will let Fletcher say the rest of what we have to tell you.” Lauren sat back down and poked Fletcher. She wasn’t good at public speeches and she felt like Fletcher should be the one to announce it.

Fletcher stood up. His cheeks were red and he looked embarrassed.

“One of the reasons that we were so excited to have you all over tonight is because we have some pretty big news.”

Fletcher’s mother reached up and covered her mouth with a gasp. Lauren almost giggled. She had a pretty good idea that Fletcher’s mom had already figured out their news.

“We are expecting our first baby. We only found out about it last week, so it is still very, very early, but we wanted you all to know so you could share in our excitement.”

“We’re going to be grandparents? It’s about time!” Mr. Grant jumped from his chair and slapped Fletcher on the back heartily. Fletcher grinned like a schoolboy who had finally gotten a decent report card.

Lauren touched her stomach as Chris remarked on how he was going to be a great uncle. Lauren couldn’t help but think that the baby’s birth would be a reason for Daisy and Naila to visit again. They were starting the family they always dreamed of.

“Do you know if it is a boy or a girl?” Lauren’s mom asked.

“No, mom. I just found out I was pregnant. We were thinking of waiting until the baby is born to find out so it will be a surprise.” Lauren liked the idea of finding out what she was having when the baby was born.

“I did that with you, too. That was the way it was done way back in the old days.” Lauren’s mom smiled at her. “Whatever you want to do, we are all here to support you.”

“I’m really happy for the both of you,” Chris chimed in. I’ve been waiting to be an uncle forever.”

“Well, you’ll finally have the chance. We will be sure to come by and leave the baby with you guys often so we can catch up on sleep. We will have to make a schedule and alternate between grandparents.” Fletcher gave Lauren’s mother a quick look. Lauren loved how he always tried to include her mom. There was a time when she had thought that her mother and Fletcher would never be able to get along after everything that happened between them. She was so glad to see that she had been wrong. Fletcher always thought of her mom and was often the one suggesting they stop by or do something nice for her. Lauren was aware that there were things between her and her mother that never could be undone, but they had gotten over them.

She leaned into Fletcher. “I can’t believe that we are going to be parents.”

“I can believe it.” Mrs. Grant said. “You both were made to be parents. I can’t wait to see the little one following you around and making you crazy.”

“I can’t wait either.” Lauren stared down at her stomach. It was hard to believe that such a tiny thing could make so many people so happy. She leaned over and kissed Fletcher’s cheek. She didn’t know where she would be or what her life would be without this wonderful man beside her. She had a family, a husband that loved her, and more happiness than she’d ever thought was possible. God had truly blessed her life.

THE END


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13 thoughts on “Dancing to her Heart’s Rhythm – Extended Epilogue”

    1. Lauren had some very difficult choices to make for her life. Fortunately she had a second chance at finding love and a happy ever after. The characters are very believable, just a few errors in typing to correct.

  1. I really enjoyed the love story of Lauren and Fletcher. I was glad Lauren’s mother admited what she did and sent Fletcher to bring her back from New York. I was also glad Raven and Mason got what they deserved for what they did to Lauren. Thank you Leslie Hales for getting me to start reading contemporary western books. I have enjoyed reading them and look forward to the next one.

  2. I loved this book. It is always rewarding for the good guy to get the girl. Mason and Fletcher – which one to choose. Well, first of all Mason had an alternative motive as he would not get his inheritance if he didn’t marry with in 6 months. Being spoiled and not very nice he wasn’t hard pressed to find someone his parents would approve of. Lauren was less than enforced with mason after a very short time and tried to break it off. Much excitements ensues. Enjoy this delightful story.

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