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Beautifully Damaged(127)

By:L.A. Fiore

I stop in my tracks, mid-motion, to look back at him. "What?"

"You dressed like Princess Leia in the slave girl costume."

I blush and he grins. "Oh, yes, I am so going to buy that outfit. Hell, it doesn't have to be just for my birthday; it could be for all the days in the week that end in 'y'."

I narrow my eyes at him and he kisses me hard on the mouth before he reaches across me and opens the door.

"Lucien, my friend."

"Good morning." Lucien turns to me and grins. "Are we ready?"


I blindfold Trace since all of our friends and family will be standing outside Everything for the unveiling. We pull up to the curb and my eyes move to the steel-blue sign with 'Everything' written across it in black with pictures representing the stages of cooking. Inside there are twelve workstations complete with granite counter-tops, Viking appliances, All Clad pots and pans and chef-knives: lots of chef-knives.

I climb from the car before helping Trace out and walk him to the perfect spot. Lucien comes to stand next to us.

"Thank you, Lucien, for making this happen."

"It was truly my pleasure."

"Can I see now?"

"Remember you told me once that it wasn't every day a wish came true?"

Trace's voice holds such affection as he answers, "Yes."

I remove the blindfold, step back, and just watch. It takes him a minute for his eyes to adjust and then he just stares. I watch as his eyes take in our friends and family first and then move to the sign before traveling to the prominently displayed bronze plaque, which reads:

Dedicated in loving memory to Roberta Fletcher,

friend and teacher,

without whom none of this would be possible.

Trace turns to me with overly bright eyes. "What have you done?"

"Making your wish come true."

He pulls me to him and buries his face in my neck as his arms wrap around me, holding me so tightly against him. "I love you, Ember Montgomery, I love you so fucking much."

"Love, my husband, is not strong enough a word."

He pulls back and frames my face with his hands. "You are my wish come true."

"And you're mine."

He kisses me and pays no mind to the people standing around us before he pulls away with a smile.

"A cooking school."

"Yes, and you already have pupils but you need to create the curriculum."

"I can do that." He lowers his forehead to mine before whispering, "Thank you, wife. You are still the greatest gift I will ever receive but this..." he looks up at the school before looking back at me as a smile spreads over his face "...is pretty fucking awesome."

"I couldn't have done it without Lucien."

Trace turns to Lucien but instead of shaking his hand he pulls him in for a hug and when Lucien returns it, I almost cry. Everyone else then approaches and my dad and uncle sign up for classes hoping to learn how to conquer the Thanksgiving meal. They don't want to be dependent on me but that is just silliness since there won't be a Thanksgiving that we aren't all together but I understand their desire to support Trace. I watch as Rafe and Trace laugh and I think about how far they have both come. I smile to see Luke and Trace shake hands; for two people who didn't hit it off at first, they have become such fast friends in the few months since. Victoria stands with Chelsea, who holds Trace's hand as he laughs over something Trent says and for me, this is all that matters. Trace is happy, he is healing and for this, a smile curves my lips.

"Not bad, eh?"

I turn at the sound of Lucien's voice and say, "We make a good team."

"It's funny you should say that because I have this idea about a jazz club for aspiring artists. Think you might be interested in helping me set that up?"

"Yeah, Lucien, I would."

"Excellent." Lucien looks to Trace for a moment before looking back at me.

"You did a really good thing here today."

"We did a really good thing here."

"I saw the memorial for Sabrina at Sapphire. You know as hard as I try to hate him for stealing you from me, I just can't. He's a good man."

I look over at Trace as a smile touches my lips. He had hand-cut, crystal stars made in memory of my mom and Sabrina and hung them prominently over the bar in Sapphire. "Yes, he is." I reach for Lucien's hand and squeeze before adding, "So are you."

"Don't let that get out, it'll ruin my reputation."

"Your secrets are safe with me, Lucien."

Trace walks over with such a beautiful smile on his face.

"Let's check out the inside."


Lucien starts inside as everyone follows after him until only Trace and I are left standing on the front step looking up at the sign. Trace looks down at me and smiles. "Everything."