Hooked by Love (Bellevue Bullies #3)(99)

By: Toni Aleo



That has everyone laughing and I roll my eyes, but I smile too.

“Shut up,” I bark at them, and my mom points her fingers at my siblings, her eyes wild. She’s shaking as badly as I am.

“Shut your mouths. He’s nervous.”

“Aw, poor baby,” they all coo in their own ways, and I turn to my mom.

“Mom,” I groan and everyone laughs, even Avery.

They are all so close now, my wife with my siblings and their wives. Lucy, she’s still alone, but she doesn’t seem too bothered by it. She moved out of my mom’s house last month and in to a condo above her shop. I guess walking in on Mom and Coach having sex had her hightailing it out of our family home, and I can’t blame her. I still can’t look at them without shuddering in disgust. Word is, Coach is moving in, and really, I don’t mind. My mom is happy, grinning ear to ear with Coach sitting beside her, also excited for me. My dad is nowhere to be seen, and I’m more than okay with that. He burned that bridge, and I’ll never forgive him for what he did. Unlike Avery, I can’t just forgive like that. Maybe one day, but not today.

When the GM of the Panthers stands with a little piece of paper in his hands before he climbs the stairs, I sit up straighter. I scoot to the edge of my seat as my mom lets out a cry, her other hand coming to grasp the hand she is already holding. Avery looks at me and I look at her.

Smiling, she says, “Here we go.”

“Yeah. Hope you love me if I don’t go first.”

She rolls her eyes. “You could go dead last and I’ll still love you.”

“But I have to go?”

She gives me a playful look. “Duh, I can’t support all of us.”

I give her an exaggerated wink, and she laughs as the whole room quiets down. The GM heads to the podium, tapping the mic. Holding my breath, I close my eyes, praying I go first. Not because I want it more than I want my next breath, but also because I don’t want to hear Jayden’s and Jude’s mouths if I don’t go first. Their skates are huge to fill, but damn it, I know I’m good enough. “The Florida Panthers would like to choose with their first pick, from the Bellevue Bullies, Jace Sinclair.”

As my face breaks into a grin and my mom cries out, I can’t move.

I did it.

I made my dreams come true.

But when I open my eyes, Avery is watching me, her eyes full of tears as they start running down her face. While one of my dreams did come true, the look of pure excitement and love swirling in her eyes is what makes me choke with emotion.

I have it all.

“Sunny Florida. Ready?”

“More than ready,” she gushes, holding my face in her hands. “I’m so proud of you.”

Grinning, I lean my head into hers, kissing her nose. “Good. That’s what I’ve been working for.”

And I’ll continue to work for it for the rest of my life.





She has Avery’s eyes.

My nose and chin.

And a head full of dark hair.

Ashlyn Joy is here.

As my arms hold her tight, with Avery’s chin on my shoulder, I’m pretty sure I’m going to drown in the love I have for this child. For nine months, I watched her grow in my wife, I felt her kick, I prayed for her to be healthy. But nothing prepared me for this overwhelming feeling of love.

“I love her.”

Avery nods, her eyes watery as she looks down at Ashlyn’s beautiful little red face. “She’s perfect.”

I look at my wife, and I can’t believe what she endured. Hours of labor that ended in a C-section, and still, she’s smiling. I’ve never been so scared in my life, and I threw up way more than I’d like to admit. I also almost passed out but Avery, man, she was ready. To this day, she still blows me away. The tables were turned during the birth of this angel, and I was the one freaking out while she held me together. That’s how we work, though. We take turns holding up the other.

My love.

My girls.

Leaning toward Avery, I kiss her nose before leaning my head to hers. “I don’t think you realize how happy I am,” I whisper and she grins.

“Sure, I do.”

“Yeah?”

With a nod, she moves her finger along Ashlyn’s face and smiles. “I’ve felt that way every day since I met you. It’s just a million times better now.”

“That we are complete?” I supply, and a tear rolls down her face.

“Exactly.”

Sucking in a breath, I whisper, “I love you, Avery.”

Kissing my jaw, she pulls back. “I love you.”

As she looks down at our baby, her fingers moving along her sweet cheeks, she starts to sing Ashlyn’s song. A lump forms in my throat as I watch her sing so sweetly to our baby. Looking down at our bundle of joy, I can’t believe the whirlwind we’ve been through, our lows and our highs, but I wouldn’t change anything. None of it, because the end game—me holding my daughter and telling my wife I love her—is completely perfect.

Everything I ever wanted.

And we aren’t even done.

Nope, our love song is just starting.

And I can’t wait to listen to it over and over again.





Read other books by Toni Aleo





So this is the end.

Wow.

I can’t believe my Sinclair boys are over. Can you? I think I might cry.

Ack.

Well, before I can do that, let me just say, I am so freaking proud of this book. I love it. I know it was long, and I know it was hard to read at times, but I love it. I love Avery, and I love Jace. I really just love everyone in this book!

You know, depression and anxiety are such scary mental diseases. Finally, people are shining a light on them, learning more about these illnesses, working to better themselves, and I couldn’t be happier. I deal with my own issues, and knowing that I’m not alone is very reassuring, because it’s scary.

This story is based off true events. When I found out about the girl who this happened to, I was stunned. She was such a happy girl who got involved with a guy, and it ruined her. Soon she was cutting, and then she tried to kill herself. It was so sad and so scary, and her grandma knew nothing about it. None of us did. So when I started this book, I always knew that Avery was gonna have the same backstory. I talked to this girl and asked if I could use some of her story. She agreed because she wants people to know that this thing can happen to anyone. And it can. She was such a sweet, smart girl, but she wasn’t loved the way she should have been and that one bad breakup ruined her. Thankfully though, she is off to college, living her dreams now, and she doesn’t even look back. For that, I’m proud. I truly believe every scar she has is a reminder to keep fighting.

I hope I did the story justice, and I hope you enjoyed it. I know I enjoyed writing it. Was it hard at times? Yeah. I cried a lot, but I wouldn’t change a single word in this book. I love it.

Thank you to my family, my friends, my editor, and my betas for all their love and support.

Thank you to you, for supporting me, loving me, and for reading this. I wouldn’t be who I am without your love! SO, THANK YOU!

Now, I also hope you loved Lucy Sinclair, because she is crossing on over to the Assassins and will be the heroine in Rushing the Goal, Assassins 8. I. Can. Not. Wait! I am so excited to write this book, and I hope you are excited to read it.

EEK! So yay! Thanks! And until next time, keeping fighting, okay?

Love,

Toni

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