Love Her or Lose Her

Page 51

“I love you so much, Rosie,” Dominic said gruffly. “Thank you for loving a flawed man.”

She kissed his palm. “Thank you for loving a flawed woman.”

“Flawed?” He swallowed hard and stepped closer to Rosie. “Agree to disagree.” Forcing himself to stop staring at his bride, Dominic threw a look at the pastor. “Please make this official before she changes her mind.”

Everyone laughed. Then they celebrated.

And that night, Rosie and Dominic camped on the living room floor in sleeping bags, making plans for their future home until the sun came up.


This was really happening.

Rosie stared at the row of order tickets attached to the silver kitchen rack, and both knees turned to goo. It was here. Opening night of Buena Onda was upon her, and according to the number of dinner tickets flapping in the kitchen breeze, the entire population of Port Jefferson had turned out. And they were hungry.

She took a deep breath and ran a finger down the list of entrees scrawled on the far left ticket. Her first-ever order. A Camarones al Ajillo appetizer, one serving of beef empanadas, and two orders of her homemade spinach-and-ricotta cannelloni. Good choices. She was prepared for this. Over the course of the past two weeks, she’d done two soft openings with friends only. And at least quadruple that number with just Dominic. The poor man had consumed enough Argentinian food to feed a small village, but he’d done it with a smile on his face.

Rosie brushed a curl back from her face and nodded at her newly hired sous chef, Marco—a local father of three with a positive disposition—prompting him to begin prepping the dishes. Her hands shook a little now that the moment was there, but she silently reminded herself of the rhythm she’d mastered with Dominic by her side. If she closed her eyes, she could feel him standing behind her, humming into her neck, his hands helping her mold pastry.

God, she loved the man she’d married. Twice.

Every day she swore she’d reached the final fathom of the depth of that love, but it continued to go deeper. And deeper. If it turned out there was no bottom, Rosie was just fine with that. She could go on swimming forever, because he’d be beside her every stroke and kick of the way.

In the weeks since they’d renewed their vows, life had been hectic, to say the least. Opening a restaurant and moving houses was something they’d just about managed, thanks to the love and support from their friends.

The house.

Sometimes she stood in the kitchen and felt as if they’d been living there all along. The walls hugged her close, sighed as they fell asleep, and greeted them like open arms in the mornings. It was heaven. At night, Dominic and Rosie sat wrapped in blankets on the dock and made plans. How they would extend the back patio and build a custom pergola. The parties they would host.

The children that would sleep in the rooms.

Rosie opened her eyes on an exhale and tried to focus on the moment. She already had so much happiness to revel in, but this. This opening night was just for her, the culmination of her dreams, and she needed to give it one hundred percent. Marco slid the prepared dish in front of her, cueing Rosie to take over, but nerves started to build in her throat, leaving her hands feeling like lead—

“Honey girl,” Dominic said in her ear, one large hand coming to rest on her hip, squeezing in a reassuring way. “You have got this.”

“I know,” she whispered, leaning back against his chest. “I think I just have a little stage fright. It was easy when it was just you or Bethany, but . . .”

“Everyone you meet becomes your friend.” He kissed her neck. “It’s only a matter of time before you’re friends with everyone who walks through the door. That’s what is going to make you and this place so special.”

“And you’re okay with that,” she said. Not a question, a statement.

“More than okay.” His lips grazed her temple. “I’m the one that gets your heart.”

Rosie turned her head and they shared a lingering kiss. When she opened her eyes again, he was gone. With a surge of confidence bolstering her, Rosie plucked another order off the rack, smiling over her customers’ choices. This must be Kristin’s table, because she’d made about nine substitutions and asked for dressing on the side of her salad. Good thing Rosie was in an accommodating mood. She might stay there forever, truth be told.

Life was so good.

Dominic had always been the man of her dreams, but he’d learned how to express himself. Rosie had done the same, having learned what made him feel loved. Appreciated. It was as if they’d been living in the same house for five years speaking different dialects—and now? Now they used their love languages to translate affection into something each could understand.

How high could they soar? Not even the sky was a limit.

The night went by so fast, Rosie had an empty ticket rack in the blink of an eye. She peeked out from behind the silver station and her mouth dropped open. Ten o’clock? The bar remained open until midnight, but dinner service was over already. With a sense of disbelief . . . and bone-deep satisfaction, Rosie untied her apron and walked toward the kitchen exit, high-fiving the waiter who came through the double doors counting his tips.

She wasn’t sure what to expect when she walked out of the kitchen, as she’d been completely absorbed in her own world for hours. But she definitely didn’t expect a full dining room of familiar faces—Bethany, Georgie, Travis, Wes, Stephen, Kristin, Dominic’s parents, and Armie—all seemingly waiting for her to join them. Whistles and cheers went up, sending her reeling back a step.

Buena Onda spread out before her like a glittering jewel. Lights were strung from the ceiling; black-and-white scenes from Buenos Aires graced the walls; the floorboards gleamed, reflecting the red candlelight. Her mother’s portrait had been hung in two places. In the main dining room and above the cash register, where Rosie knew her mother would be standing were she alive, probably keeping an eye on the cash. A hiccup of emotion came unbidden to her lips, and she sought out Dominic for support. As she knew he would be, her husband stood at the forefront of the crowd, a look of fierce pride on his face. Rosie pressed a hand to her chest, hoping to keep her heart from bursting free.

“Thank you for coming tonight,” she said, when the cheers quieted down. “You’re all standing inside my dream and it wouldn’t have been possible without all of you.” She wet her lips. “But especially my husband, Dominic. His faith in me . . . well, it’s unending, and I’d like to show him, in a way he’ll understand, that he’s always been the most important part of my dream.”

Rosie walked over to the small section she’d had blocked off for opening night, sliding the temporary partition out of the way. Behind it was a small table with a single chair. On the wall, written in gold script, were three words.

Reserved for Dominic

She turned to find him standing beside her, his expression packed so full of heart, it was impossible to look away. Her husband needed actions to feel her love, and she would never stop finding new ways to show him, the same way he did for her with words. They would continue to grow a little more each day until they reached forever. They were best friends, soul mates . . . and perfectly, eternally flawed.

“You shine,” Dominic said gruffly. “So bright.”

Rosie twined their fingers together. “We shine together.”

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