This is the final chapter in the series collection, Jet-Set Billionaire: The Complete series. This epilogue is in the published bundle, but I have made it available here for my newsletter subscribers who have already read all four parts of the series.
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Chapter 17 – Epilogue
“Lainey!” I yelled across the airfield as my best friend reached the bottom of the airplane stairs with Brad right behind her.
“Erica!” Lainey waved and almost ran to where I was standing on the edge of the small airport near one of our guest transport vehicles. The airfield didn’t take up much space on the island at all since we didn’t have a need for more than a fueling station, a tie down area, and a runway.
Malcolm’s tour business had barely gotten off the ground and the resort that was already on the island catered to an exclusive clientele who all seemed to have their own private jets. All they really needed was a place to park their planes while they were lounging in their ocean huts and basking with their tropical drinks.
“Erica, you look incredible! You’re so tan! Seriously, living on this island really agrees with you. You’re practically glowing!” Lainey said as she wrapped her arms around me, giving me a long hug. “I’m so excited to be here again,” she said as she pulled away, still holding onto both of my arms. “This place is so beautiful. Your wedding is going to be spectacular, I just know it.”
“Oh, thank you, Lainey. I’m so glad you could both make it. I hope the flight went okay.”
“It’s good to see you, Erica,” Brad said as he leaned in and kissed my cheek, then gave me a warm hug after I took the initiative and put my arms around his neck. “I have to admit the turbulence on the way over made me a little nervous. Even after flying for years, one bad incident can really stick with you.”
“Well, we’ve been flying back and forth quite a bit with Malcolm’s business trips in Manhattan and I’ve had to get over it pretty quickly. I just take a bath or watch a movie or do something else to distract myself.”
“Yeah, I saw the bathtub, Erica. That airplane is amazing,” Lainey said, giving Brad a sly smile.
“I hope you did more than look at it. Everything is there for you to use.”
“We didn’t, but we will on the return flight, that’s for sure!” she said as she grabbed Brad’s arm and watched as their luggage was transferred from a small, electric baggage cart over to the back of the guest cart.
“Is this our transportation? It’s so cute,” Lainey said as she climbed up into the passenger seat of the cart. It had three rows of seats that were upholstered in red with a luggage compartment in the back and was covered with a red and white striped canopy. “Are we the first ones here? Where’s Malcolm? Is he on one of his tours?”
“Lainey, calm down! One question at a time!” I got behind the wheel of the electric cart, turned the key and headed down a dirt road that wound it’s way through the thick jungle. Palm trees towered overhead, providing a shady canopy, while giant ferns created brilliant green walls on either side. “Malcolm is with his parents and his sister. They flew in on their own jet with a bunch of extended family. He’s getting everyone set up in their bungalows.”
“Is that where we’re staying? In one of those over-water bungalows?” Lainey said as she clenched her fists up and held them to her chest.
“Yes, there are thirty of them and we’ve managed to fill them all with the wedding party and the guests. All of the beachfront bungalows are full too.”
“This is so exciting, Erica. I can’t believe that you and Malcolm own all of this. The island, the resort, everything,” Lainey said, grabbing my arm and turning around to look at Brad who was sitting behind us. “And I can’t believe we’re staying in one of those little huts on top of the ocean, Brad! Did you hear her? We’ll have our own bungalow on top of the crystal clear, blue water!”
Brad leaned forward and wrapped his arms around Lainey’s shoulders. “I heard, sweetie. I’m only two feet away from you.” He kissed her on the side of the head and rested his chin on her shoulder. “It’s so kind of the two of you to have flown us here, Erica. And putting us up for two weeks, all expenses paid, is beyond generous. We’re both thrilled. I can’t wait to check out the island when I’m not running around in a state of panic like the last time I was here,” Brad said, still holding Lainey in his arms from his seat behind us.
I glanced over at him and smiled, and he gave me a warm smile in return. I had been a little nervous about inviting him to our wedding but I couldn’t invite Lainey and not invite Brad. They seemed incredibly happy together, and between that and the kind words he had just said, any lingering fear of bad feelings between us was put to rest.
“You’re both important to me,” I said as I turned back to look out of the front windshield. “And this is one of the most important events in my life. I want everyone I care about to be here to celebrate with me.”
“I hope we’re going to be able to take Malcolm up on one of his tours while we’re here, if he’s not too busy.”
I smiled at the thought of Malcolm and Brad trudging through the jungle together again. I really hoped they would be able to be friends now.
“That’s his plan. He wanted everyone to come for a vacation and to explore the island if they want. He’s really excited about his business. He’s taken a few tours through the jungle and on snorkeling excursions this last month, but he’s working on getting September completely booked, since that’s one of the better months here, as far as the weather goes.”
“Are you going to join us?” Lainey asked. “I don’t want to go running around in the jungle without you, Erica. It just won’t be the same.”
“Of course! I’ve been learning about the island with him. It’s been so much fun. I don’t know if I’ll ever take tours out on my own, but I’m not ruling it out. I really love to go along, though. I feel like I learn something new every time.
“One of the tours is a hike up that rock structure across the island. The one that surrounded the cave we stayed in. It’s a tough hike but it’s so worth it.”
A small flock of lime green parakeets flew in front of the cart, thrilling all three of us with their spectacular feathers. I was so happy to be able to name some of the different birds and plants that I saw after watching and learning about them for months. I especially loved spotting new sea creatures when we went snorkeling with a group. Or when it was just the two of us swimming around in the crystal clear water among the brightly colored fish.
“How much does he charge for these tours? They sound like a lot of fun,” Brad asked, snapping me out of my daydream of snorkeling with Malcolm. Feeling him close to me as we swam together, then watching as he inevitably stood up in the water, his muscular chest and abs glistening in drips that ran down his body.
“He doesn’t charge anything at all.”
“What do you mean, for now? To get things started?”
“No, he doesn’t plan on ever charging for them. He flies kids in on his jet and puts them up in a camping area with a lodge that he had built near the cave. He provides everything. The food, the cook, the hiking and snorkeling gear. He just wants them to have the time of their lives.”
“But how can he make anything off this business? Is he doing it as a non-profit?” Lainey asked.
“Investments, I guess. I don’t know much about that end. He knows how to make money without even lifting a finger so I don’t think it’s really an issue for him.”
I drove on until we came to an open area where multiple grass and bamboo bungalows of different sizes lined an enormous lagoon. Over half of them dotted the water, extending off of wooden walkways that were built in the same smooth half-moon curves as the rock walls on either side of the lagoon.
I parked the cart in a lot that was busy with a number of other guest carts coming and going.
“Who are all of these people?” Lainey asked as she got out of the cart and grabbed one of her suitcases.
“Malcolm’s family and some close friends, mostly. My parents are here somewhere, but they might have taken a cart out to check out the island. I told them I had a few things to do today so they said they’d entertain themselves for a few hours and meet us for dinner later.”
“Is Michelin here? I haven’t seen your sister since that time she flew to Rome with us.”
“She’ll be here. She’s my maid of honor. But she’s going to have to take another flight tomorrow with some of Malcolm’s friends. She got stuck at work even though she requested the time off over a month ago.”
“Ugh, does she still work for that asshole that’s always making her work overtime?”
“Yeah, she’s hoping she won’t have to work with him past the end of this year, but she agreed to do a tour of resorts with him over the holidays.”
“That actually doesn’t sound too bad.”
“I know. He’s evaluating some of the resorts his company owns in Europe and he’s taking her with him because they won’t recognize her. She’ll be checking in separately and staying on a different floor, so while they’re falling over themselves to impress him, he’ll get her review of the real experience of their services.”
“Wow, I’d take that job in a second, if the guy wasn’t such an egotistical jerk.”
“Excuse me?” Brad said, lifting his eyebrow as he pulled his suitcase behind us.
“Oh, you know what I mean. If I was in her shoes! I’m perfectly happy flying with my gorgeous, non-jerk pilot,” Lainey said as she grabbed Brad’s arm and kissed him. “I wouldn’t trade you or my job in for all the resorts in the world.”
“Okay, okay,” Brad said with a bit of a pink tinge creeping over his face. “Just watch out where you’re walking. I don’t want to have to dive in after you if you fall off the walkway.”
“So we’ll be at the restaurant at six. The map of the resort and the nearby village is in a folder on a table in your bungalow. You can get settled and do whatever you want while you’re here. Order room service or eat in the restaurant.
“You can get a golf cart at the front desk and drive through the village and check out the shops or head out on the roads that have been made through parts of the jungle. Or you can just hang out on your deck and swim in the ocean.”
“Thank you so much, Erica. This is so exciting. I want to do everything, but I think for now we’ll just unpack and relax. We’ll see you at dinner.”
“Okay, have fun you two.”
I left Lainey and Brad to get settled, then took the cart back to our house. I figured I’d take a long bath before dinner and was surprised to find Malcolm there.
“That’s right, no charge…The flight is part of the package…No, there’s no charge for the accommodations or meals either…I’m very pleased to hear that…I’m looking forward to meeting all of you, as well…Yes, I’ve got you down for the last week of September…Thank you, too…Goodbye.”
Malcolm hung up the phone and wrapped his arms around my neck, kissing my cheek and nuzzling my ear.
“I haven’t seen you all day. I’ve missed you.”
“Did you book another tour?”
“Yeah, some kids from a grade school in Washington Heights. They’ll be my first group that I take scuba diving. I’m finally legal,” he said, kissing his way across my face to my mouth. “So is everyone settled in?”
It seems like it. I told my parents and Brad and Lainey to meet us at the restaurant at six. We can have drinks and then meet up with whoever wants to join us from your family for dinner.”
“Okay, I’ll let my parents know. I’m sure they’ll want to have dinner with all of us the night before the wedding.”
“I can’t believe it’s happening tomorrow, Malcolm. We’re going to get married tomorrow,” I said, still feeling like I needed to pinch myself over everything that had happened over the last six months. The island, our house, and now our wedding. “Next thing you know we’ll have little Malcolms and Ericas running around.”
Malcolm smiled and kissed me softly. “You know I wouldn’t mind that one bit,” he said as he pulled my shirt up and over my head, then buried his face in my neck. I squealed as he picked me up and carried me into the bedroom and threw me on the bed.
His hot lips traveled over every inch of my skin, kissing and licking and biting and leaving my body aching for him. He knew just the right places to touch me to send wave after wave of shivers coursing through my body.
I thought about everything that had happened since we had met and it all was pretty incredible, but the thing that amazed me more than anything was how perfectly we fit together.
When we were naked and in each other’s arms, it felt like our bodies had been made for each other. Like pieces of a puzzle that fit together perfectly.
The way his body moved with mine gave me the sensation that we were both guided by a force and in a rhythm that was our’s alone. I had never felt this kind of connection with another person and when I looked into his eyes, I knew he felt the same.
“Tomorrow,” he said as we laid in each other’s arms. “You’ll be all mine tomorrow.”
The next morning flew by as I got ready and headed out to the lagoon where everything was being set up. Although I part of me wanted to oversee the ceremony and reception setup, I knew I just needed to relax and trust that everything would be taken care of. I ducked into my dressing tent and laid myself out on a lounge chair, taking deep breaths and trying to calm myself down.
Lainey showed up and helped me relax a bit but I was still shaky as I put the finishing touches on my face and hair.
“Come in,” I said as I tucked some pearl and sapphire combs into my hair that was loosely pulled up into a knot with strands spilling off on all sides.
“Erica, you look gorgeous,” my sister Michelin said as she came in through the fabric flap that served as a door to the cabana. Lainey squealed and ran over to her and they jumped up and down and hugged like long-lost sorority sisters.
“Oh my God, Michelin, I thought you weren’t going to make it,” I said, giving her a hug as well.
“I almost didn’t. They had to delay take-off just because of me. My boss had me running all over New York on some last-minute errands.”
“I don’t understand why you let that guy treat you so badly, Michelin. You have a right to time off, and on your own schedule, not his.”
“I know, but I really need the money right now. I won’t be working for him this time next year, that’s for sure. I’ll make sure I get everything set up so I can give him notice and get a good recommendation and I’ll move on to something where they respect me as more than just an errand girl. Or slave, really. Are mom and dad here?”
“Yeah, everyone is out on the beach. It’s going to be a very short, informal ceremony. There’s not much for you to do but walk out ahead of me with Declan, he’s Malcolm’s best man.
“Oh, I met him on the plane. He had to fly in last-minute too. He’s really hot. In fact, all of Malcolm’s friends are hot. I wonder if any of them are single,” Michelin said as she fixed her hair in the mirror.
“Well, I’ll leave that detective work to you. You’ll have the whole day after the ceremony to mingle with Malcolm’s friends and family out on the beach. We’re having the whole thing, the ceremony and reception, on the lagoon where Malcolm and I—”
“Got it on?” Lainey said with a huge grin on her face.
“Where we fell in love, Lainey.”
“Yeah, that too.”
I looked at myself in the mirror. I was a little worried that Malcolm’s parents wouldn’t like my non-traditional wedding dress. But Malcolm and I both decided that we wanted our wedding to be very casual and expressed our wishes in the invitations. No suits or formal dresses or, heaven forbid, high heels on the sandy beach.
I was wearing a light pink sundress that fluttered in the breeze and the bridesmaids were in similar dresses in colors that they chose. While the men all wore light colored pants and white linen shirts with no tie.
“Are you still nervous?” Lainey asked, watching me wring my fingers while I looked myself over once more in the mirror.
“Yes,” I said, turning to her. “It’s not getting married, though. It’s getting up in front of all those people that has me freaked out. I don’t know why we feel like we have to do this in front of a crowd,” I said, turning to her and gripping her arms. “Why am I doing this, Lainey?”
“Because you want to be surrounded by the people you love on this beautiful day. We’re all so happy for you, Erica,” Lainey said with tears in her eyes. “I hope you’re going to be there when I get married.”
“Of course I will! You know I wouldn’t miss it for the world. Okay, let’s get out there before I start crying and mess up my makeup.”
The three of us walked out of the dressing room cabana and headed out onto the beach.
Everything was perfect. Multiple tents had been set up with streams of white lights hanging from the ceiling.
Each tent was decorated with bunches of pink and red peonies, both of our favorite flower, and had shimmery fabric that flowed in the breeze dangling from the overhang and from each corner. All kinds of tropical food and beverages were available at the buffet tables, with an underground oven of roasted Kālua pork making the centerpiece of the reception.
All of the guests were dressed very casually and looked relaxed and happy, and not one of them had shoes on. Not even Malcolm’s parents or any of the members of his family.
Malcolm was talking to a group of his friends near the bar and when he saw me walking toward the party, he excused himself and came over to us.
“God, Erica, you look incredible. Are you ready?” he asked, kissing me on the lips and then on the forehead before wrapping his arms around me. “I can’t wait to walk you down the aisle.”
“Yes, I’m ready,” I said as I looked up into his dark eyes.
“You’re walking her down the aisle?” Michelin asked. “What about dad?”
“He’s going to have to wait until you get married to walk a daughter down the aisle. Malcolm and I wanted to walk down together. I’ve never liked the idea of being given from one man to another, even if it’s just a tradition or a gesture, and it was Malcolm’s idea that we walk down together. Because we’re giving ourselves to each other,” I said as I looked back up at him, melting in his gaze.
“Wow, that’s really sweet,” Michelin said with tears welling up in her eyes. “I hope dad won’t be too hurt if I steal your idea because I really love it.”
“Sorry to interrupt, but it looks like we’re together,” a tall, handsome man said as he touched my sister’s arm.
“Oh, hey there, Declan. Yeah, I guess we are,” Michelin said as she laughed nervously. “It’s about that time, isn’t it? Oh, Erica, have you met Declan?”
“No, but I’ve heard a lot about you,” I said as I shook his hand. “From Malcolm and Michelin.”
My sister gave me a wide-eyed glare and I smiled in return. I had no problem giving little hits to her secret crush.
The chattering of the crowd started to die down as two women seated near one of the cabanas started playing Pachelbel’s Cannon on acoustic guitars. Very soon after they started playing everything seemed to stop. No one was talking and no silverware or glasses were clinking. There was just the sound of the crashing waves and the beautiful guitar music.
Declan put his arm around Michelin’s and led her to the front of the group of guests near the women with the guitars and Lainey and Malcolm’s other groomsman and his sister Sasha all joined in behind them, two by two. Then Malcolm took my hand and we walked past the crowd of smiling guests together.
I could see both of our mothers standing together, both with tears streaming down their cheeks and tissues in their hands and I had to keep myself from tearing up as well. I was thrilled that everyone seemed to be enjoying the simple ceremony as much as we’d hoped.
When we reached the rest of the wedding party and stood in front of all of the guests, we turned to each other and smiled. I watched the cool breeze tousle Malcolm’s hair that he had let grow out over the last month. I had a feeling that since the trips to Manhattan were going to be much less frequent that his haircuts would be too. And I loved his slightly shaggy new look.
The excitement in his eyes made him look like a little kid as he gazed down at me. We both knew that we weren’t going to say much and that the ceremony would most likely only last minutes. We had both decided that there wasn’t much to say other than the way we felt about each other.
Malcolm looked at the officiant who nodded that the ceremony had begun, then he took both of my hands.
“Erica, the only thing that I want you to know is that I will always love you. And that as much as you are mine, I am yours. Forever.” He picked up both of my hands and brought them to his lips, then smiled as he watched the tears that had been welling up in my eyes finally stream down my face.
“I will always love you, Malcolm. And no matter where you go or what you do I will always be with you. Forever.”
The officiant started to speak but before she could get everything out, Malcolm had already grabbed me around the waist and pulled me against him. The crowd laughed and cheered as the officiant yelled out husband and wife while Malcolm lowered his head and lifted my lips to his.
“Forever,” he whispered as his mouth pressed softly into mine. It was a kiss that was deeply passionate yet so gentle that it took my breath away.
I looked up into his smiling eyes and realized that, between the music and flowers and crashing waves on our beach, and the feather-light caress of his lips, that’s what he intended. Malcolm McDaniel was going to do everything in his power to continue to take my breath away, forever.