Alternate Ending - SPOILER ALERT!

Dear Readers,

I hope you enjoyed the love story of Jake, Jessie and Chad. Tears still well in my eyes every time I read this book. The friendship and genuine love between these characters steals my breath away. When I started writing the first draft of this book, I envisioned this primarily as Jake’s journey. He started as a broken man but would come to reembrace his love for life through the tough love of his best friend. But as I wrote the story, I realized that Jessie and Chad were also broken in unique ways. One reader said it best; two halves make a whole, but in this case three parts make a whole. Jake and Jessie are wonderful together but Chad completes them both in a way that is magical.  

I’m going to be honest and tell you that Jake died at the end in the first draft of this book. Before you slam your computer shut and curse the ground that I walk on, please hear me out. Believe me when I say no one could be more devastated than me about the prospect of his death. I bawled while writing the last chapter and I literally cried for days afterward. My heart was broken!

So why did I originally think Jake had to die? Simple. The bad guys had the upper hand in this scenario. With four guns to one—it seemed pretty clear to me that one of the good guys had to die in the black moment. My husband often offers his opinions and advice on my storylines. In this particular case, he was adamant that one of the good guys should die. And that person had to be Jake, didn’t it? For once, Jake was the true hero, rising above his disability and believing in himself enough to save the two people he loved most. I was so proud of him for keeping calm and acting with quiet determination! His sacrifice was noble and an act of pure love. Come on—admit it—you can see my point. Jake’s journey from deep depression to embracing life again touched my heart in ways that I couldn’t imagine when I began writing this story. But these three friends made choices. Our choices have consequences. And sometimes those consequences are unintended.

The idea for the ending of the story as currently published was originally written as an ‘alternate ending’ to mend my own broken heart. I was not ready to let go of Jake. In the months subsequent to writing the first draft, I came to terms with his passing, but I realized that many of the readers may not be prepared to let go of Jake either.

Another issue was this: Is the story still a romance if Jake dies? My vote is yes! Even if Jake had died, the reader could still cling to the happiness that Jessie and Chad found together. My editor disagreed and thought readers would much prefer the three main characters all live happily ever after together. One beta reader said she slammed her computer shut at the end of the original first draft and cursed my name. Another beta reader loved the ending as I originally envisioned it because Jake’s sacrifice was so beautiful and he got to go out in a blaze of glory, feeling completely whole again.

Alas, I was left with a difficult choice. Kill Jake or let him live? In the end, I’ve done both. You can read the original Epilogue below which came directly after Chapter Twenty.    



Seven months later…

Jacob Hanson

1982 – 2014

Beloved husband. Best friend. Cherished son.

Courageous. Loving. Dedicated.

Loved and missed – forever and always.


Fragrant red and tea roses, intermingled with baby’s breath and foliage, burst out of the stone vase at the head of the tombstone. Red roses to signify the love they still held in their hearts for Jake, and tea roses as their unending pledge to always remember him.

“They’re beautiful, Chad.” Jessie smiled softly as he wrapped his arm around her shoulder. “Jake would’ve loved them.”

Chad squeezed her closer and chuckled. “He would’ve thought they were a waste of money. But I’m sure he would’ve loved the sentiment.”

“Okay, you’re probably right,” she said, pinching him in the side. “But that doesn’t mean we’ll stop replacing the flowers. It’s the only way I feel like I can still communicate with him.” Her voice became soft and drifted away in the slight breeze. “It’s silly, I know.”

He turned her in his arms and cradled her face with both hands. “It’s not silly, Jessie. It’s really sweet. I love you so much. Don’t ever change who you are.”

“I’m sorry you had to change a little of who you are for me.” She glanced down at her round belly. “For us. I know how much you loved your work with the FBI.”

“I’m not sorry,” he said, shaking his head. “We certainly don’t need the money, and teaching self-defense classes is gratifying work. It’ll give me lots of time to spend with you and our baby.”

His lips brushed over hers with a feathery touch and she melted in his arms, drawing strength from him.

“Are you ready to find out?” Chad asked, against her hair.

She leaned back and nodded. “Kristin will blow a gasket if we don’t tell her soon whether she is getting a niece or a nephew.”

Her fingers trembled as she pulled the small envelop from her trench coat. A sharp jab in the side of her belly brought a smile to her face. She rubbed her hand gently over the spot and gave it a pat.

“The little tyke wants to know, too. Here. You open it. I’m too nervous.”

“We can have as many babies as you want,” he said, taking the envelope from her hands and ripping it open. The sexy little dimple in his cheek puckered with his smile. “I like making babies.”

“Me, too.” She covered her eyes with her hands. “But I really want this one to be—”

“…a boy,” he said.

Her eyes flew open and she stared at the piece of paper he held before her with her heart hammering in her chest.

“It’s a boy!” With tears of joy flowing, she threw her arms around Chad and squealed before turning to Jake’s tombstone and shouting, “It’s a boy!”

Chad grinned from ear to ear. “Yes, a boy…Jacob Hanson Wilson.”

“A beautiful name,” she said, beaming up at him. “Thank you, my love.”

He gazed down with an intensity that stole her breath away, and she felt blessed for having found and loved two amazing men. Jake had given her ten years full of love and adventure that would remain tucked in a special place within her heart forever. And though her love for Chad was fresh and young, she knew without a doubt he’d be by her side forever.

“It was a great idea to open the envelope here,” Chad said, cupping her face in his hand.

She snuggled into it and whispered, “I wanted him to know he didn’t die in vain. That he saved not only me, but also our baby. In doing so, he made me whole as well.”

Sunlight reflected off of his glistening eyes. He leaned his forehead against hers and sighed. “No, he didn’t die in vain. Though I’d give anything to have him back again, he gave me the greatest gift of all.”

“Your life?”

“You, Jessie. Your love makes me whole.”