Bonus Chapters!

Bonus Chapters!

The Relationtrip Bonus Chapter One:


I lean in into the window, my forehead scrunching against the plastic part of the plane that’s probably covered in a million germs, from the thousands of other people who’ve tried to see out.

“There it is,” I say, the tropical turquoise mixing with the sandy beige and then the tropical greens of Belize. The last time Logan and I flew to this country, it was dark. He’d specifically booked tickets for us today so we can see the place where we fell in love—and where we’re getting married in just two days.

Tomorrow, it’s flamingos. The next day, nuptials.

I twist to look at him, but his chest presses right into me, and I nearly knock my nose against his chin. I blink and flinch and pull back, my heart racing. A thunk! and then pain shooting through my skull tells me I’ve hit the wall of the airplane, and I instantly reach to rub the spot.

“Okay?” Logan asks, his voice oh-so-sexy. “Look at it, Sloane.”

I look again, because I love the aerial view of places. I always have, and while we had an amazing time in Australia already this year, we’re on yet another trip.

“Sloane, can you back up?” My sister’s voice from the aisle seat annoys me, but I chose to do a destination wedding, and my whole family is on the airplane with us. So is Logan’s, as well as a couple of our closest friends.

I invited my assistant, and she’s on-board with her husband. My boss and his wife only fly first-class, and I can’t wait to tease Therol about sipping his mimosa while the rest of us struggled past with our carry-ons. The only thing in mine is my wedding dress, and I checked everything else.

Logan has found a writer’s group in Pittsburgh, and a couple of his author friends are probably writing feverishly about the whole experience, the way Logan did on most of the flight here.

“Sloane,” Rose says crossly again.

“I paid for the window seat,” I gripe at her, but I lean back so she can see some of Belize. We’re almost over it now anyway, and it’s mostly horizon water and a lot of green.

Logan slides his hand into mine, and when I turn to look at him this time, there’s enough distance between us to see his dazzling blue eyes, shining like sapphires and stars got together and had babies.

“We’re back in Belize,” he whispers as if I don’t know.

I snuggle back into his chest and let him lift his arm around me, pull me close, and hold me tightly. “Yeah,” I say. “We’re back in Belize.”

* * *

I tighten my backpack straps and turn to leave the room I’m sharing with Kenna for two nights. Last night and tonight. Tomorrow night, I’ll be in Logan’s room, where I’m headed now. He doesn’t answer when I knock, or when I ring the doorbell. With both palms leaning against the door, I press my cheek to it like I’ll be able to amplify my voice that way.

“Logan,” I call. “It’s time to go.”

Last time we came to Belize, we only got to hear about the amazing wonder of the flamingos in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. The flight is an hour and twenty minutes, and then the bus tour is another ninety. We’ll get to learn about the area and all the birds we’ll see in the Rio Maya Biosphere Reserve along the way—if Logan ever comes out of his room.

I lean my forehead against the door and moan, “Logan.” I pound with both palms and ring the doorbell five or six times. “Come on! We’re gonna miss it for the second time!”

The door opens, and I stumble forward—right into the arms of my irritated fiancé. “I’m coming,” he gripes at me. “You’re early.”

“No, I’m not,” I say. “We have to be there in thirty minutes, and the golf carts take forever.”

“We said six-fifteen.” He makes a big show of checking his watch. “You’re early.”

I roll my eyes. “You were up.” I scan him from shoulder to ankle, and find him wearing a pair of khaki cargo shorts, a pair of rugged hiking boots, a forest green button-up, and his backpack. He grabs a baseball hat for the Pittsburgh Pirates, settles it on his head, and grins at me.

“I’m ready.”

“What were you writing this morning?”

“I didn’t write this morning.” He follows me out of his room and takes my hand as we walk toward the elevator. I’m proud to be wearing appropriate attire for our full-day outing—including a flight to the reserve and back—and I’ve packed water and snacks.

My shorts are navy and they only go down to mid-thigh. They’re tighter than Logan’s, but I love how stretchy they are. I have a good pair of hiking shoes today, though we’ll be on a plane, a bus, and then a boat for most of the excursion. I’ve got a bright purple tank top on, because I firmly believe everyone should try to blend out from their surroundings in the wild. Predators will see you and run. Your fiancé won’t lose you. Rescuers will be able to find your body easier if you fall or get hurt. You know, the important things.

“How are the brothers getting along?” I ask him.

“I’m going to kill Seth,” Logan says darkly, as if this person is real. “He won’t cooperate with Lauren at all, and it’s driving me nuts.”

I smile at the elevator buttons as he mashes the bottom one to call the car to go down. “You’ll whip him into shape.”

“I better,” Logan grumbles. “It’s almost the halfway point, and I need them to kiss.”

“Maybe it’ll be an angry kiss,” I say. “That’ll turn into this hugely passionate thing, and then it’ll be so good, that Seth will figure out how to tame his tongue just so he can keep Lauren happy.”

Logan gapes at me, but I just giggle. “That’s what you do, right? Make them fall in love by making them change.”

“Yeah,” he says, blinking his way back to normal. “I just…that’s a great idea, Sloany. An angry kiss that flips Seth on his head.” He’s musing now, and I let him live inside his head with his imaginary people while we go downstairs, get a golf cart to the taxi station, and then a car to the airport.

It’s a smaller airport, with smaller planes that don’t go very far. I curb my nerves by snacking on a fruit and oat bar and listening to Logan read to me about the flamingos from a book he bought online.

“I think it’s funny that these are American Flamingos, and we had to go to Mexico to see them,” I say.

“Hm.” He flips a page and keeps reading, but he doesn’t say anything else.

We fly. We join the tour group on the bus. It’s a tiny, narrow vehicle and we cram eight people into it. Murph and I sit in the back, and I swear, after the first mile, I’m going to be sick. And I have an hour and half to go.


“You’re okay,” I tell Sloane as she spills from the van. The Death Van she’s labeled it, and her face is a sickly shade of gray I don’t think anyone in Mexico has seen before.

She gives me a look and walks away from me, putting one hand on her lower back and stretching it.

The van ride was absolutely horrible; I can agree about that. Too small, too hot, and too noisy. Sloane had sat next to the window, but there’s a console there, and her hip aches. I watch her stretch, insanely attracted to her while wanting to help her at the same time.

She’s wearing a cute little pair of shorts that show of her legs and her hips, and I just want her to be my wife. One more day, I tell myself. Less than a day, as our ceremony is at ten-thirty in the morning, to be followed by a huge Belizean buffet on the beach.

“This way,” our guide calls, and I wait for Sloane to turn. She does, and I reach for her. She comes to me, and I press a kiss to her forehead.

“This is the good part,” I say. “You’re looking better.”

“I don’t know if I can get back on that Death Van,” she says. “For real, Murph.”

“Then I’ll rent a car,” I say. “We’ll drive back.”

“We don’t know the way.”

“We’ll follow the van.” I know we can’t actually do that. By the time I rent a car, the van will be long gone. She tables the conversation for now, and we approach the boats.

“She sick?” our driver asks, and I see an opportunity here.

“Yes,” I say. “Where’s the best place to sit on the boat so she can see and have the most air?”

Six pairs of eyes zero in on us, but I don’t care. Sloane’s sick, and I want this flamingo day to be perfect.

“She sit up front,” the guide says. “In the van on the way back too.”

“Yes,” I say. “Thank you. Si. Gracias.”

Sloane makes a microscopically quiet humming noise in her throat, but she doesn’t complain as we board the eight-person boat first and get to go all the way to the front. The other crowd in around us, and it’s a family of four—two parents and two teenagers—and another couple.

Our guide’s name is Ronaldo, and he points out the trees and birds as we get going out on the water.

“Better?” I ask Sloane, putting my hand on her upper back.

She turns back to me, beaming, and my heart lifts. “So much better.” The wind whips her thick hair back at me and into her eyes, and she turns to face the breeze again.

“Around the bend here,” Ronaldo says. “We should see our first flock of flamingos.” He makes the turn around a jutting out piece of land, and all eight of us in the boat take a collective breath at the sight of the tall, glorious, pink birds standing only yards from us.

Sloane is the first to say, “Wow.”

That about sums up the marvelous sight in front of us. I’m a writer, and I’m struggling to put it into words. A sea of pink works, along with majestic, long necks, as the birds stand and feed, preen, and look superior in the way only flamingos can do.

They’re like tall, slender queens, their beaks as rounded as they are sharp, and their eyes missing nothing.

They don’t care at all that we’re here, and Ronaldo turns the boat so everyone has a front-row seat at some point. Sloane’s eyes meet mine, and I can’t even speak.

“Incredible,” she says.

“We go to a bigger flock,” Ronaldo says, and while part of me mourns the loss of this sight, I’m also excited to see more.

“Bigger?” someone asks. “How many are here?”

“This about two hundred,” he says, and it definitely felt like more than that to me. He motors us further from the birds, and the anticipation builds in my chest. He points out various other birds nestled in trees, standing on the ground among the tangled vines and trees, but the grays, whites, and dark browns aren’t nearly as fantastic as the flamingos.

We putter along, the sound of the breeze in the leaves, the waves lapping against the boat, and our guide telling us about Ojo de Agua—the Eye of Water—we’ll get to see later on the tour.

“And here, the big flocks,” he says, and this time, I make a very audible cry of joy as masses upon masses of pink queens fill my view.

The Relationtrip Bonus Chapter Two:


I can’t even take in the enormity of pink in front of me. The fuchsia feathered friends are everywhere, and I never want to leave this place. Ever, ever, ever.

The boat settles and we rock gently as we gape at this enormous flock that Ronaldo says is probably close to fifteen hundred flamingos. They’re simply standing there in the shallow water, as it comes up to about their knee joints. They preen. They feed. A couple of snowy white birds swim in and around them.

The green slash of trees behind them blends into the gorgeous blue of the sky, and I will ride on any Death Van to see this sight again and again and again.

A group of them to my left takes off as a unit, their long, elegant necks stretched in front of them as they tuck their elongated legs behind them. They look like children’s toys, with a blob of a body in the middle with strings for legs and necks coming off both ends.

“Look at the black feathers,” I say, pointing to an inky slash of black along the flamingos’ outstretched wings. Which one I’m pointing to, Logan can’t even begin to guess. I turn and look at our guide. “Am I the only one who didn’t know flamingos have black wings?”

Ronaldo smiles. “They do not show when they’re not flying.”

They certainly don’t, and I admire the beautiful beings in flight, then standing in the water. I sigh in contentment, because this is everything I hoped and dreamed it would be.

Behind me, Logan presses in close again. “Happy?” he asks. “Or was that a sad sigh?”

“So happy,” I tell him, tucking myself against his collarbone and inhaling the scent of his cologne mixed with sunscreen. It still revs my heart and makes me exceedingly happy to be here with him.

Only him.

* * *

“It was the best thing I’ve ever seen,” I tell Rose the next morning when she catches me scrolling through pictures on my phone of the brilliant flamingos.

“I’m sure it was,” she says, actually swiping my device from me. “But the best thing Logan ever wants to see is you, in your wedding dress, on time for your own wedding.”

I meet her eye and see so many unsaid things lingering there. She’s absolutely right, and I jump to my feet. “Okay.” My hair is already done, as is my makeup. I was just taking a little break while Mom and Kenna went to get dressed.

The doorbell on Rose’s room rings, and she gives me another glare before handing back my phone. “It’ll be Mom. We’ll get you dressed, and then she wants to be gone when Dad gets here.”

“I know,” I say. Things between my parents have only gone from bad to worse in the past couple of years. It’s amazing how much they can fight over, and even more so, because they don’t even speak to one another.

I’ve coordinated everything down to the minute, and Rose is right. I don’t have time to daydream about my flamingo excursion yesterday. Logan already promised me he’d bring me back to Mexico any time I wanted to see the pink birds.

He loved them as much as I did, and while our seventh annual mid-winter trip isn’t for another four months, and we’re going to Puerto Vallarta, I bet I could get him to change the coasts of Mexico.

I say nothing as my mom and sister enter the room. I’m standing in my slip when the doorbell rings again. Rose answers it, and in walks Hattie and Logan’s mother, Shirley. They both wear gowns in the palest of pinks—Shirley’s covered in sparkles and gems for her mother-of-the-groom dress—and again I think of the flamingos.

They hug me both, with Hattie’s little baby bump barely protruding against my stomach. She’s due with her second child next spring, and she and her husband have a little boy who’s three-about-to-turn-four.

Logan loves his sister, and Hattie loves him. “You look amazing,” she says. “And the dress isn’t even on yet.”

My mom retrieves it from the closet in that moment, and we all marvel at it. Miles of lace, lots of buttons, and just the right amount of satin ribbon. I figure I’m only going to get married once, so I better go big or go home.

Since I’m literally not at home, but standing in my sister’s hotel room that’s doubling as a bridal suite, I am living the cliché.

I shimmy into the dress with the help of at least six hands, and then the ladies who’ve come to be with me start buttoning, tying, and tucking.

The bust is scalloped, which gives my chest a very feminine shape with just the right amount of cleavage to be tasteful, not trashy. Kenna has modified her dress slightly, and she’s showing a little too much thigh and a little too much breast, but no one’s said anything to her. Nothing ever came of her tutors, and she’s still dating—or trying to—out there in the workforce.

The dress has no sleeves and no straps, and it’s literally tight enough to be glued to my body to get it to stay on. It’s a formed dress, which means that even if I don’t fill it out, it holds its shape.

At least until the waist, where the rigidity of it lessens to a full umbrella skirt. It’s not quite white, but more of a cream, and I wish I’d gone with the pinky version of cream instead of the yellowy one.

I can’t change that now, and shopping for and finding this dress dominated three months of my life last spring. When I’d seen it hanging in a bridal boutique in Philly, I’d known it was made just for me. So I can’t second-guess the color now.

“No shoes, so you’re ready,” Mom says. She wears an unhappy pinch around her eyes all the time now, but it smooths away as she lifts her gaze to mine. For a moment, I see the woman she still is as she smiles and draws me into her chest for a hug.

I hadn’t known how to exclude my father from this wedding, and Mom told me way back in the beginning I didn’t need to. I know family relationships are complicated, and complex, and they also last a very, very long time.

Rose hugs me, then Kenna, and the three of them leave the room. Hattie looks at me with tears shining in her eyes. “Can we get a picture of just us?”

“Of course.” I don’t get to spend much time with her, but Logan took me to Speck, Connecticut to meet his sister, and our friendship was instant. I smile with her as her mother takes a picture, and then Hattie holds out her phone and does a selfie of the three of us.

A knock sounds on the door, and they look at me. “It’ll be my dad,” I say, my stomach suddenly full of flamingos taking flight. They’re graceful once they’re airborne, but getting there is a little rock.

“You’re beautiful,” Shirley says, her voice breaking. She grips me in a tight hug and hurries to go let my dad into the room.

“He knows he’s the luckiest man in the world to be marrying you today,” Hattie says, and she too swipes at her eyes. “I’m so happy for you both. It’s so good to see Logan with someone who loves him so much.”

I’m glad that’s not in question, and I can’t help turning toward the big wall of windows behind me. Rose’s room is right above the wedding zone, and Hattie links her arm through mine. Her blonde hair has streaks of red and white in it, and she’s delicately braided it into a crown. She doesn’t like to wear pink—or so Logan says—but she’d willingly taken the bridesmaid dress without complaint.

Hattie pulls back the curtains to blind us both with the morning sun. “He’s there, Sloane. I promise.” She leans her head against my shoulder, as I’m a couple of inches taller than her. “He’s wanted to be with you for a long, long time.”

My voice gets stuck in my throat, and I clear it away. “I know.”

“Do you need to look?” she asks.

I think about it for a moment, then I shake my head. “No.” I turn away from the windows without going outside. The trellises will be holding flowers, and the ocean breeze will hopefully be lilting and not whipping. The guests should be in their seats, and the buffet set up nearby.

And Logan…

Logan will be there, because he loves me. I trust him, and I don’t need to check to make sure he’s shown up to our wedding.

He’s not my first fiancé, but he’s definitely going to be the last.


“What’s taking so long?” I hiss out of the side of my mouth in my father’s direction. I keep my smile hitched in place, but someone should tell grooms they have to stand at the altar alone while everyone stares at them for what feels like an entire lifetime.

I don’t like having eyes on me, and I don’t like living with such a strict schedule. It can’t have only been five minutes since my mom and sister came down from the bridal suite, where they were helping get Sloane dressed for our I-do’s.

The cells in my body don’t know what to do. Flee. Liquefy. Freeze. Laugh. I’m so nervous, and mostly because I’ve added some décor to the beach that I’m not sure Sloane will approve of.

If she would just get here, then I’ll know.

We’re getting married at a resort, so it’s not like there’s a lot of privacy, and tourists keep looking over to our group too. They probably just want some of the mouthwatering barbecue I keep getting a whiff of when the breeze blows just right.

Sloane also can’t really hide once she comes out onto the walkway, and I hear people gasp. I search for her, but the guests are all getting to their feet. Speakers hand from the false light poles that are stuck in the sand, and the bridal march starts to play.

Sloane and her dad appear at the end of the aisle, and our eyes lock. All my nerves disappear. Just, poof. Gone.

She is a goddess walking toward me now, and I notice when her gaze flicks to the two-foot-high plastic flamingos I’ve tagged every row with. Sloane starts to laugh, and that’s precisely the reaction I was hoping for.

Her dress is magnificent, just as she promised me it would be, with feminine curves that show off all of her feminine curves. My mouth waters at the sight of her bare shoulders, and my body heats at the thought of seeing more skin of hers than I ever have before.

Her father presses his cheek to hers and goes to stand way down on the end of the aisle by my family, as far from his ex-wife as he can get. The fact that Sloane and I are here says so much, because she doesn’t have the best view of marriage.

She laughs as she steps into my arms, and I hold her right where I always want her—next to my heart. “This dress,” I murmur in her ear. “Yowza.”

She tilts her head back to look at me, pure joy radiating from her. “You don’t look so bad yourself.”

“I’m sweltering,” I say. “I’m buttoned to my throat, and you’re…collarless.” I swallow, but my smile goes nowhere.

“I love you, Logan,” she says, and I adore it when she says it first.

“Mm.” I close my eyes and take a deep breath of her perfume, her powder, the hairspray and lip gloss and breath mints. It’s pure Sloane, and someone should bottle it and sell it. “I love you too. I can’t wait to see what this dress looks like without you in it.”

“Oh, is that what you can’t wait to see?”

I grin at her, our eyes locking again. “Yeah,” I say. “That’s what I can’t wait to see.”

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