Happily Ever After

By: J.A. Huss

A Day in the Life of the HEA

(Rook and Ronin #3.5)



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Life in Rook & Ronin’s world has been bliss for fifteen years. Rook, Veronica, and Ashleigh are still BFF’s raising their kids together. Ronin, Spencer, and Ford have managed to go legit and stay out of trouble. And they have a pack of kids running around the eight thousand square foot Vail mansion they all share for the holidays—begging for gifts, and fun, and love.



But every HEA has problems.



Five is fifteen and getting ready to go off to college. He’s put it off as long as he could in order to stay close to Princess Shrike, but his stay of execution is over and in three weeks he’s off to Oxford. But Five can’t leave until he gets the only thing he’s ever wanted. The heart of his Princess.



Ford and Ashleigh never had any more children after Five. And now that Kate is sixteen, Ashleigh is out of her head with desire for just one more chance to have a baby in the house.



Rook and Ronin have two beautiful daughters, but Sparrow is growing up too. And she just got a job offer that has Ronin crazed with paternal worry.



And Spencer is the father of a fifteen-year-old princess who looks way too much like her Bombshell mother for his comfort level.



Join the whole Rook & Ronin gang for a Team Christmas you will never forget.





Chapter One





“Five?”

Kate is calling me from the bottom of the stairs. I’m stuck up in the attic bedroom in the Vail vacation mansion with Oliver, as usual. He’s still snoring. Kids. They love Christmas. He was so excited last night, he stayed up talking me to death until three AM.

“Five?” Kate yells again.

I look in the bathroom mirror and smooth an out-of-place hair, then straighten my tie.

“Why didn’t you answer me?” Kate asks, coming up behind me. She’s clearly annoyed with my indifference, because she has one hand on her hip. “I’ve been calling you.” She stops short and covers her mouth as she laughs. “You are not wearing that.”

“I’m busy, Kate. I have adult things on my mind.”

When I look over at her she’s just giving me that dumbfounded stare. “I’m older than you.”

“Age is not what makes a person mature.”

“Anyway,” she says, sighing and blowing some of her dark bangs out of her eyes. “Rook is making us all breakfast. Pancakes!” This lights up her face. Kids love their pancakes too. “But seriously, Five. No one wears suits to Christmas Eve breakfast. It’s stupid.”

“It says upwardly mobile.”

“That’s stupid too. No one wants to look like they’re going on a job interview at family breakfast.” She pauses, looking me up and down with a critical eye. “You know she’d like you more if you weren’t so weird.”

“I have no idea to whom you are referring. And I’m not weird.”

Kate snickers. “OK. But she’s my best friend, you know. Rory tells me everything and she thinks you’re weird.”

“She does not,” I say, spinning around so I can look Kate in the eyes. “Princess Shrike is my one true love. She knows this. I know this. And one day, when we are of legal age to marry, the world will know this.”

Kate sighs. “I was kidding. Well, a little bit. She has remarked about the suits though, Five. For real. Don’t wear it. I’m not steering you wrong here. I’m trying to help.”

“I agree,” five-year-old Oliver says from behind Kate, still rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. “Lose the suit and put on the snowmen, Rutherford the Fifth. Trust me, I live with her. She likes this stuff. She’s always telling me how cute I am in these.” He points to his flannel character pajama pants.

“First of all,” I say, putting up a finger, “do not call me Rutherford the Fifth. Second, I don’t have snowman pants. Third, suits always say normal.”

“Wait here,” Kate says with a sigh.

“Whatever,” I say, turning back to the mirror to check my tie again.

“You should take our advice, Five,” Oliver says. “I’m a girl expert. I have five sisters. I live with them. Rory likes boys who wear t-shirts. Like that Marshall kid in her class.”

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