He gives me a smile, and I turn and walk down the hill back toward the house and Austin. She was right. It’s time to get this shit wrapped up.

EPILOGUE

DEMI

DEKE AND THE rest of the sharks killed David and Maxwell. I wish I could say he killed my sister too, but he told me that death was too easy for her, and I understood what he meant. The more I thought about it, the more I understood his decision. She’ll have to forever watch us together. She’ll watch us live happily in love. Get married. Have children. I love Deke Biggs, and I don’t plan on going anywhere without him.

Plus, she was theirs now. No matter what she did or where she’d go, she would never escape them. And I understood exactly how scary that would be for her.

I was released from the hospital the following day. We all got together and had lunch with my dad, sans Becky. She made up some excuse about feeling bad. The sharks didn’t force her to join us because none of us wanted her around anyway.

We all went back to Texas and fell into a routine. I went to school, and Deke and Cole went to their classes. The guys were busier than ever with swimming, but I saw Deke every day, even if it was just for an hour. I loved him even more for it. And no one knew anything about what happened in the Lowes estate. I feel like it brought us all even closer. A secret that we will all take to our grave.

“Are you ready?” I ask Austin.

She nods. A huge smile on her face. “Yes.”

It’s New Year’s Eve. Eleven fifty-five to be exact. The middle of the night. Cole and Austin are getting married. In five minutes, the date will change to midnight. It’ll be their one-year anniversary. A new year and she’ll no longer be Austin Lowes. She’ll be Austin Reynolds.

“You look absolutely stunning,” I tell her, running my hands down the black silk dress. It’s got a corset back laced up with a red ribbon. She looks like she belongs on the front cover of a magazine. Cole and Austin aren’t your average couple. And that’s what I love about them so much. They say that opposites attract, but they are a lot alike.

They chose to get married on the hill behind where the Lowes estate once stood. The one that leads up to the abandoned cemetery. Where they first met one year ago tonight.

Austin doesn’t know it, but Cole paid a company to come in and clean the property for their special night. Whoever said he isn’t romantic doesn’t know how much he loves her.

I cried. She cried. I even saw Cole blink rapidly at one point. The guy has a shell that can’t be broken until it involves his sweetheart. The overcast night was dark, and you couldn’t even see the moon, so we decided to light the way with tiki torches. And when they kissed, it started to rain. That quickly turned to snow. It looked like something out of a hauntingly beautiful fairy tale. Her in her black dress and him in his matching tux. And Lilly wore a red dress that made her look every bit of the princess she is. Afterward, we all went back to the clubhouse, and they danced to a song that they chose. It was so them. I’m not sure I’ve ever met someone else who would dance to “I Will Follow You into the Dark,” by Yungblud and Halsey for their wedding song. It was perfect.

My mother asked me to wait until I was twenty-one to marry Deke, but I said fuck that. He proposed the night of my eighteenth birthday, February twenty-third. I married him a week after high school graduation. That was as long as I was willing to put it off. We eloped to a little bed and breakfast. No blood relatives were present, but all the sharks were there. They’re my family now.

We spent two days in bed together. I called and told my father first. He asked us to come home and stay with him for the summer. I told him we would come for a few weeks. I didn’t inform my mother of our nuptials until six months later. She said she hoped it didn’t end like hers to my father. That was as much as I was going to get out of her.

Her marriage ended to my father because she couldn’t stay faithful. She was like my sister. I’m nothing like them. I understand what I have, and I won’t ever give that up. Deke Biggs is my forever, and I’m his.

THE END . . FOR NOW