Author's note: Final update to NFM. Thanks for sticking around to the very end - hopefully this was a happy enough ending!
"Jenna suggested that we have a family dinner when I'm back." James informed and Aura could practically feel the smile smeared on his lips.
"Sounds great," she responded enthusiastically and pressed the phone closer to her ear. "Something to look forward to after exams." She replied.
A scoff sounded on the other end. "Pfft… As if you need to even worry about exams you nerdy," James shot back and intercepted Aura before she could sputter a protest. "And guess who else has been invited? Jenna specifically extended the invitation to your boy-toy,"
Aura froze at James' last statement as her eyes raked over said person. She was currently seated in his dining room staring at him from across the room as he hovered around in the kitchen.
He was clad in a loose white t-shirt and a pair of comfy looking jeans topped with a professional looking apron that didn't fail to make her breath hitch slightly. As the muscles in his bicep flexed when he moved a saucepan onto the stove, Aura couldn't help but marvel at how at home he appeared to be when cooking.
Sinking her teeth into her lower lip, she observed the way he was currently stirring the tomato paste with a wooden spoon. Her eyes narrowed in on the way he brought the spoon up to his lips to taste the sauce he was making which triggered her heart rate to increase as she suddenly felt warm all over.
All her life the raging hormonal teenager had never hit her as hard as it did now and it was driving her insane!
As her golden gaze continued to openly gape at him, she couldn't help but witness Tynan move around the kitchen – this time paying more attention to the lamb chops they had bought at the market this morning. He used his long meticulous fingers to rub in herbs on the meat and soon Aura was greeted with the intensity of his blue eyes meeting hers.
Startled, she felt her face flush as she realised she had been caught blatantly gawking at him. Her face went a darker shade of red when he arched an inquiring brow at her. Managing to compose herself, Aura raised her left brow in response and her heart leapt when Tynan threw her a quick wink.
Smiling bashfully, she averted her gaze down to the dining table before drifting off in thought. She didn't know what the occasion was, but Tynan had offered to cook her a wonderful Sunday lunch spent at his place with both Essa and Creston.
Suppressing a joyous sigh, it dawned on Aura that she had waited a little too long to reply to James' suggestion. As her mind concentrated back to the thought of Jenna's proposed family dinner, she couldn't help but feel slightly sceptical.
Usually family gatherings consisted of her and James' family, but to have Tynan be invited? The mere thought made her squirm in her seat. She most definitely wasn't planning on putting Tynan through hell again. And though she was unsure of Tynan's thoughts on Jenna, Aura was certain that he wouldn't be overly fond of putting himself through trial again.
Heck! Even she was still recovering from the last stunt Jenna had put her boyfriend through. The cringe-worthy questions and uneasy atmosphere was still fresh in her head.
"Why would she want Tynan there?" Aura choked in a casual manner but James had seen right through her nonchalant demeanour.
"Aura, mister blonde hottie is your boyfriend." He replied simple. "After all the two of you have been through, he's practically your husband." He emphasized. "And that means he's family."
Blinking, Aura didn't know how to react to James' enthusiasm. She wasn't going to make any promises as she non-committally murmured a: "I'll have to ask."
A chuckle resounded through the receiver as James realised how protective Aura was being. Unable to suppress the cooing quality in his tone, he found himself sighing. "Awww… Aura lurves hot blondie!" He jeered.
"Who would have thought my ice-maiden would become an overprotecting girlfriend in such a short time? And here I thought there was no hope for you." He laughed and practically squealed the next request over the phone. "Ohhhh! Tell me the story of how he saved you again."
The melodic tone of Aura's laugh filled the atmosphere as she shook her head in disapproval. After all the turmoil she had been thought since the kidnapping, the one thing she was glad to have was her family and friends. And even though James' wasn't able to be around in person, he had been great support over the phone.
It was going to be a while before Leigh would officially be put behind bars, but it was for the sake of Tynan's and her family's safety that urged her to show up for the court trials. She was well aware that the trials could drag on for a while, but she took comfort in the simple fact that Leigh wasn't able to hurt anyone anymore – not when he was locked up in a cell miles away.
Breaking from her thoughts, she could make out the sounds of a car door being opened and closed on James' side. "Are you on your way out or something?" She inquired but her best friend ignored her question.
"I demand that you bring hottie along. I assure you dinner won't be like the first meeting." He reasoned and continued to speak before Aura could voice her uncertainty. "If it makes things better Jenna personally asked for Tynan's presence and knowing her she'll never outright admit her approval, but it's obvious she actually thinks your hubby is a cool cat."
Aura bit her lip. "James," she began. "Jenna literally scared the jeebies out of him the last time they met and I honestly don't think he will be too willing to face that again."
A scoff sounded on the other end. "It's not like Jenna will eat him. Hell Aura dear, I might be the one that jumps your hot boyfriend considering there aren't many here – in fact there's none!" James corrected mid sentence finally changing the topic.
"There's not one good-looking guy here. It's a straight man's paradise here – a whole bunch of pretty girls. I can tell you now that there's so much oestrogen in this town that I might start ovulating! " He explained and heard Aura laugh.
"I've been getting hit on by pretty girls and I simply don't swing that way. The moment I tell them I'm gay; they suddenly want to be my best friend. It's a straight man's buffet here and I've had about enough."
"Aww Jamie," Aura clucked. "Is that your way of telling me how much you've missed me?" She queried and was interrupted by the loud ring of Tynan's apartment doorbell.
Shifting around to face Tynan, he met her gaze and nodded his head over to the door. Understanding his command, Aura got to her feet.
"Hold on a sec, I gotta answer the door. I think it's Essa and Creston." She announced and before she left her mobile phone on the dining table she demanded James to stay on the line.
As her bare feet padded down the wooden floorboards, she unlocked the double-lock system and pulled open the door. Beaming at who she thought was Essa and Creston, the expression on Aura's face soon morphed into one full of alarm. The figure that greeted her caused her eyes to bulge and her mouth to fall agape.
Standing before her in a rather suave fashion was James Belmont. A smirk was etched across his features and before Aura knew what she was doing, she closed the gap between them and threw herself onto him with her arms spread-eagled.
A muffled 'Oof' escaped James's lips as he caught an emotional Aura. She was practically strangling him with her arms as she hugged him tightly. It took her a few minutes to calm down as James found humour in the way she blinked at him as if he'd vanish if she blinked enough times.
When she was convinced that he wasn't going to disappear in a puff of smoke, Aura slowly released her grip from around his neck and untangled her legs from around his waist with an embarrassed smile etched across her perfect lips. Unclasping his hold from around her, James made sure his best friend was steady on her feet before speaking.
"Miss me Aura-poo?" He asked and was only greeted with a watery smile.
"How come you didn't tell me?"
Lifting his hands up in defence James took a step back from her narrowing stare.
"You're boyfriend played a part in this!" He blurted and lifted his gaze to find Tynan standing in the hallway.
Following her best friend's gaze, Aura found her boyfriend leaning against the wall with a cheeky grin on his face as he ran a nervous hand through his blonde tendrils. Placing her hands on her waist, she arched a brow at him and he shrugged casually back at her.
"The more people for lunch the merrier," he said. "Jenna included."
Aura sucked in a breath at the information Tynan had just revealed. She wasn't too sure whether if it was the fact that he was cooking for her and her best friend that made her warm inside or if it was the simple fact that he had planned all this for her. All in all, she couldn't seem to hold back the urge to run over to him and embrace him in appreciation.
Crushing her body against his, she wrapped her arms around him tightly and buried her face into the hollow of his neck. Everything he had done today – the cooking, James as well as inviting Jenna over – it was all for her. And now that she thought about it, ever since the kidnapping there wasn't a time when Tynan hadn't ever been there for her.
Not caring that James may be watching, Aura pulled Tynan at arm's length and looked him directly in the eye. She framed his face with her small hands and beamed up at him with a full grin.
"Have I told you how much I love you?" She whispered.
Tynan plastered a pensive expression on his handsome features. He took a minute to ponder before meeting her gaze and shaking his head. "No, I don't think you have." He replied and couldn't help but smile when she grinned infectiously at him.
"Well listen carefully," he heard her breathe and leaned forward as she stood on her tippy-toes. "I love you Tynan Christopher Welling – more than all the cars and engines in this world."
Tynan chuckled at that and covered her left hand with his right. He brought her palm to his lips and landed a soft kiss on her warm flesh.
Before anymore words could be exchanged between them, they heard James clearing his throat. Breaking apart, two pairs of eyes locked onto the mischievous looking Belmont.
"Awww…" He gushed and rested his hand over his chest. "That has got to be the most adorable thing I've ever seen. And just so that I don't feel left out, I suggest a group hug!!" He shouted and approached both Aura and Tynan with his arms wide-open.
Both Rellie and Tynan laughed at James' amusing gesture before accepting it by wrapping their arms around him.
Closing her eyes momentarily as she savoured the moment, Aura felt utterly thankful for being blessed with such wonderful people in her life. She thanked God for her family and quirky best friend. As she opened her eyes to find an intense blue gaze studying her, she realised that the number one thing she was most grateful for was to be loved by Tynan Christopher Welling.
- Finish -
Author's note: I can't believe this story has come to an end - it feels like I just started posting this yesterday! I'm a little sad that it's all over and yet I'm ecstatic that I've managed to accomplish this!
I'd like to thank you readers and reviewers out there for the support because NFM (or any of my writing for that matter) wouldn't have been completed without your never-failing encouragement! So many hugs and kisses for everything and I'm eternally grateful!! :)