BONUS: Unedited – Cam and Avery – That’s Forever

March 16, 2020

That’s Forever  


No matter how many times Cam brought me home to visit his family, I was still so nervous I feared I’d break out in hives and have to be rushed to the E.R., and how embarrassing would that be? 

It was just that I… that I wasn’t used to being among such a loving and affectionate family. And yeah, loving and affectionate were two very different things I’d learned, and the Hamilton family had both in spades.  

Spending Christmas morning with them had been bittersweet, as was dinner and especially after Jase and Teresa showed up. All the laughter and the play fighting and the general awesomeness of their family really drove home the point that I’d grew up in with a family as warm as a mortuary. But damn, I was so lucky now. So, so freaking lucky in so many ways to have found Cam.  

I glanced at the stairwell. Speaking of Cam, where in the heck was he? He’d gone upstairs after all of us had moved into the twinkling lights of the living room and he hadn’t come back down. That had been a while ago.  

Looking away, I saw that Cam’s sister was watching me. She grinned as she sat beside me. “Maybe he fell into the toilet or something.” 

Mrs. Hamilton sighed as she turned to her daughter. “Really?” 

“What?” She shrugged, unashamed. “That’s the least disgusting thing he could be doing up there.” She twisted toward where Jase sat beside her. “You should go check on him.” 

“I am not checking on him.” Jase wrapped his arm around Teresa’s legs. He sat on the floor, in front of the couch, his long legs stretched out. The two of them made a stunning couple. “I’m sure he’ll be back down here whenever.” 

Cam’s father made some kind of noncommittal sound as he glared at the TV screen. My gaze ended up on the Christmas tree. So colorful. Blues. Reds. Greens. Whites. Every color of the rainbow. My parents had done the monochromatic scheme—all silver. Everything. They also didn’t put the decorations up themselves. They hired someone. But I knew Cam’s parents—his entire family helped out. I liked that.  

I loved that. 

Feeling all warm and gooey, I suck into the cushion of the couch. Sometimes I worried that I’d wake up one day and discover that this had been nothing more than a dream. The mere thought of that was like having an icy hand reach right into my chest and seize my heart. But tonight wasn’t one of those nights where my head ended up in the wrong place. Tonight couldn’t be anymore perfect.  

“You know,” Mr. Hamilton said, sitting back in his recliner as he peered at Jase and his daughter. “I’m really glad you finally got the balls to settle down with my girl, but remember, balls can removed.” 

Jase’s eyes widened as blood poured into Teresa’s face. Her mom just sighed, and I giggled, unable to help it.  

Finally, I heard Cam coming down the stairs. Or it was the ghost of Christmas past, but that seemed unlikely. Trying not to look like a loves struck goober, I glanced at the hallway.  

Cam appeared, and my response to seeing him never diminished, never faded. It was always like stepping out under the summer sun or dipping toes into warm water. He was ruggedly beautiful, to me at least. His rich brown hair was all over the place, disheveled and adorable. Impossibly bright blue eyes stood out among thick, dark lashes. His face—his body, oh dear, his body—was just perfect, but he was so much more than man candy. Cam was good to his core, patient and understanding, funny and intelligent, and he baked cookies. And he was mine.  

But he looked… different. His broad cheeks were flushed and the hair around his temple and forehead was damp. He kind of looked sick. Concern pinged around inside me.  

His gaze found mine, and he looked like he’d taken a punch in the chest by an invisible fist. His lips parted, and my concern grew as I smiled. The smile was a reflex nowadays. No matter what, when I saw him, I started smiling. Couldn’t help it. He just did that to me. It didn’t matter what kind of mood I was in, and that was love, I realized dimly. Love did that to me. Cam’s love.  

“You holding up the door, boy?” Cam’s father asked. 

He didn’t look away, not even when his mom stood from where she was perched on the arm of his father’s chair. “You okay, honey?” 

“Yeah,” he replied, his voice hoarse. “Never been better.” 

Kind of didn’t sound that way, but before I could say anything, Cam walked toward me, stepping over Jase’s legs. Determination filled his expression, and I realized that he was probably going to kiss me. That’s what he did whenever he left the room and came back. It was sweet and cute. My smile spread and then froze.  

Cam dropped down onto one knee in front of me. 

Oh my God. 

Oh my mountain mamma and God and baby Jesus in a manager. I couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe as I stared at him. Time stopped. The entire world stopped. You could hear a cricket rub it’s knees together it was so silent.  

Then Teresa shrieked like a banshee, propelling herself off the couch, but I couldn’t drag my eyes away from Cam’s. I jerked back as he reached toward his back pocket and his face blurred as I wordlessly said his name. My heart started to swell.  

Teresa quieted as Cam drew in a deep breath. “I planned on doing this a couple of months ago,” he said. Things came up, and I thought I’d have something else big planned, but I don’t want to wait any longer.” Pausing, he cleared his throat, and my heart continued to expand. “I don’t have a big speech, but you know that I love you, right? That I’m in love with you.” 

Lifting my hands, I pressed the tips of my fingers against my lips and nodded, unable to speak.  

And I’m always going to be in love you.” His voice caught, and as I blinked the tears out of my eyes, I saw that his was glassy. “You running into me in the hallway was my luckiest day.” 

Oh God,” I whispered, choking on the tide of emotion.  

So I’m hoping that you’re going to make today my second luckiest day, by saying yes.” 

“Holy shit,” Mr. Hamilton said, and immediately his wife hushed him.  

Cam laughed as he withdrew the ring from his pocket. I barely even looked at it. I didn’t care about the ring, what kind of size or cut. He wrapped his fingers around my wrist, gently pulling my left hand away from my mouth.  

Both our hands trembled, and for a long moment, as we stared into each others’ eyes, neither of us spoke, and then Cam did. “Avery Morgansten, would you make me the luckiest guy ever by being my wife?” 

“Yes,” I said immediately. It was an unnecessary question, and I couldn’t sit still any longer. I sprung forward, wrapping my arms around his neck. 

Cam rocked back, landing on his rear. Someone was clapping. Someone was crying, but I buried my head against his chest, holding onto his so tightly as I worked to stop myself from breaking down.  

He curved his fingers under my cheek, lifting my head. “Thanks, Shortcake.” His smile wavered with the weight of emotion clearly showcased in his gaze. “You’re going to let me get this ring on you?” 

I laughed as I leaned back, wiping at my cheeks. “Yes. Sorry.” After a moment, I all but shoved my left hand in his face.  

Grinning from ear to ear, he slipped the ring onto my finger, and it was a perfect fit. In that moment, I really did know this was something he’d planned. How he’d gotten my ring size I had no idea, but I didn’t care.  

I leaned forward, clasping his cheeks. I rested my forehead against his. “I love you, Cam. I love you so very much. 

His eyes closed as his arms tightened around me, sealing me to his chest. When he spoke, his lips brushed my ear. “I love you, Avery.” 


Much, much later that night, I sat in the center of the bed in the guest bedroom, waiting for Cam. Since he proposed to me, we hadn’t hand a moment alone. His parents had broken out the champagne, and the celebration had gone well past midnight.  

I also couldn’t stop staring at the ring.  

And I also couldn’t stop smiling.  

I knew Cam would fine his way to my room once everyone was asleep, and I wasn’t worried about what his parents would think if they found him creeping into my bed. They were probably more concerned with where Jase was sleeping or where Teresa was inevitably fated to roam off too.  

Turning my hand, the ring glinted brightly in the low light from the lamp on the nightstand. It was beautiful and perfect. My hand trembled slightly. I was engaged. Holy smokes, I was actually engaged.  

A soft creak drew my attention to the door. As it inched open, my heart jumped. Cam slipped in, shutting the door behind him. The click of the lock threw my pulse into a tailspin, but so did the fact he was shirtless and the flannel bottoms he wore hung indecently low on his hips, showcasing the tight abs that were utterly lickableHe approached the bed with his chin ducked low, and said nothing as he placed his hands on either side of my legs and leaned in.  


That was all I got out of me. He kissed me, and there was nothing soft and slow about the way his lips melded to mine. I grasped his arms, feeling the muscles bunch under my hands, and that kiss went on and on, shooting bolts of pleasure through me.  

I couldn’t believe that not too long ago there was a time where this sort of intimacy would’ve sent me screaming for the hills.  

He guided me onto my back, fitting his large body over mine, and as he lifted his mouth from mine, I blinked in a daze. “I’ve been wanting to do that all night,” he said, settling his hips between my legs. “But I didn’t think my mom or dad would appreciate witnessing that kind of kiss.” 

I laughed softly as I pressed my palm against his cheek. “I think I need to tell you that I love you again.”
Cam peered down at me. “I think I need to hear it.” 

“I love you.” I ran my thumb along his cheekbone as I searched his eyes. “You really surprised me today. I had no idea, Cam. None.” 

“I don’t know how.” He grinned as he dropped his head, kissing me. “How I feel about you isn’t going to fade.” 

My throat burned, and I had a feeling I was going to burst into tears at any minute. Happy tears, though. “I just never thought I…” 

“I know.” He slid his hand down the length of me, over the swell of my breast to my hip. He squeezed gently. “I get that, but sweetheart, you never have to question or worry about how I feel about you. That’s not going to change.” 

In my chest, my heart stood up and did a little dance. “This is forever.”
He nodded, lifting my hip and fitting the softest part of me to the hardest part of him. I sucked in air as a rush of delicious sensations caused the muscles low in my stomach to tense. “This is definitely forever,” he said.   

“You’re going to make me cry,” I warned.  

“I want to make you scream to be honest,” he replied. 

My face heated. “I kind of want that to.” 

“Shortcake,” he groaned, running his nose along my jaw and then nuzzling the side of my neck. “I’m trying to be a good guy right now.” 

Grinning, I looped my arms around him. “That you already are.” 

“Mmm.” He kissed the space below my ear and then shifted. With his forehead resting against mine, he clasped my hand with his. Lifting so there was a bit of space between us, he dragged my hand to where the tattoo of the sun was emblazed on his chest. His breath was warm against my lips as our eyes met. “You’re my sun that rises every day. And you’re never going to get the chance to forget that. I won’t allow that. Not now and not fifty years from now. That’s forever.” 





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About Me

#1 New York Times and #1 International Bestselling author Jennifer lives in West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. she spends her time reading, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, hanging out with her husband and her Border Jack Apollo.

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