Only and Forever

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Paperback
$18.00 US
| $24.95 CAN
On sale Apr 02, 2024 | 368 Pages | 978-0-593-64247-4
INSTANT USA TODAY BESTSELLER!

It’s a room-mance for the books in this tender, steamy story about unexpectedly finding love and being brave enough to let it revise life’s narrative in the final book in the beloved Bergman Brothers series.

Viggo Bergman, hopeless romantic, is thoroughly weary of waiting for his happily ever after. But between opening a romance bookstore, running a romance book club, coaching kids' soccer, and adopting a household of pets—just maybe, he’s overcommitted himself?—Viggo’s chaotic life has made finding his forever love seem downright improbable.

Enter Tallulah Clarke, chilly cynic with a massive case of writer’s block. Tallulah needs help with her thriller’s romantic subplot. Viggo needs another pair of hands to keep his store afloat. So they agree to swap skills and cohabitate for convenience—his romance expertise to revive her book, her organizational prowess to salvage his store. They hardly get along, and they couldn’t be more different, but who says roommate-coworkers need to be friends?

As they share a home and life, Tallulah and Viggo discover a connection that challenges everything they believe about love, and reveals the plot twist they never saw coming: happily ever after is here already, right under their roof.
One

Viggo

Playlist: "Everybody's Lonely," Jukebox The Ghost

If there's one thing you should know about me, it's that I love a happy ending. That butterflies-in-your-stomach, rush-of-serotonin, breathless, euphoric, wrapped-up-in-a-bow happy ending. The last page of a romance novel as my eyes dance across The End. A shorefront view of the sunset, toes wedged in the sand, watching fading light spill glorious gold across cool blue waves, the grand finale to the perfect beach day. The first bite of homemade pastry, finally perfected after countless recipe tweaks. And, of course, most of all, my family, side by side with their happily ever afters, crammed together at the long, worn wood table in our home away from home nestled in the woods of Washington State, the A-frame.

My gaze drifts around the room, the sound of everyone's rowdy voices and laughter sweetening the bittersweet. I'm surrounded by happy endings-my six siblings, their partners, their children, my still-so-in-love parents-and, given my love of happy endings, I should be fully, utterly content, too.

But I'm not.

Because I'm still waiting for my happy ending. Irony of ironies, salt in the wound, unlike these lucky ducks, who, in six different ways, serendipitously tripped and fell, kicking and screaming, into meeting their perfect match, I've been searching for mine. And I'm the only one who hasn't found them yet.

"Viggo!" Ziggy, my baby sister, the youngest in the Bergman brood, calls my name from across the table, wide smile, freckles, and bright green eyes, flipping her long red braid over her shoulder. "Scrabble doesn't have to be so serious. Play already."

I snap out of my daydreaming and peer at the Scrabble board, tugging down my ball cap to hide my eyes. I don't like being caught in maudlin thoughts.

"'Scrabble doesn't have to be so serious.'" Ziggy's boyfriend, Seb, tips his head her way. "Did you really just say that? The woman who punched my thigh when I built a word off of the letter u and compromised her plans for her q?"

Ziggy blushes bright red, narrowing her eyes at Seb. "That's different."

His tongue pokes his cheek. "How so, Sigrid?"

I still can't believe she lets someone call her by her full name. Then again, if anyone could get away with it, it's Seb.

"You," she says breezily, plucking a cracker off the plate of snacks, "looked at my tiles. You cheated."

Seb grins. "Now, why would I ever do that?"

"Because you live to fire me up and suffer the consequences."

He sighs dreamily. "And what glorious consequences they are."

"Ew," I say miserably. "Stop with the double entendres- Oh, hell yes." Inspiration having struck, I lean in and spell out entendre.

Everyone groans around the table.

"With that double word square," I tell my sister, "I'll take eighteen points."

Ziggy grumbles as she writes down the score. Seb takes the opportunity to whisper something in her ear that puts a smile on her face.

I avert my eyes and try not to slip right back into my mope, but it's hard. Mom leans into the crook of Dad's arm, her hand resting on his as they talk with my oldest siblings and their partners-my sister, the firstborn Bergman, Freya, beside her husband, Aiden; my oldest brother, Axel, born after Freya, holding hands on the table with his wife, Rooney, so at home in how they lean in together and talk and touch. My gaze dances farther down the table to Ren, the next sibling born after Axel, his arm around his wife, Frankie, who sits, hands folded and resting on her very pregnant belly, as she makes some dry quip. Willa, wife to my brother Ryder, born after Ren and preceding me, laughs loudly at what she says. Ryder grins at Willa, his arm stretched across the back of her chair, softly twirling a coil of her hair around his finger.

So affectionate. So effortless. So romantic. My chest feels tight. Pain knots, sharp and sour, beneath my ribs.

A toe nudges me beneath the table. I glance up and find my brother Oliver, just a year younger than me, whom I'm so close to, not just in years, but emotionally, that we've operated like twins for as long as I can remember. Except now he has his someone, too-Gavin, who sits, shoulder wedged against Ollie's, our niece, Linnea, perched on Gavin's lap as they color together, dark-haired heads bent over the page.

Oliver's eyes, ice-blue-gray, just like mine, like Mom's and Freya's and Ren's, lock with mine. You okay? he mouths.

I swallow, then force a smile. I'm fine.

He frowns, which is rare for my sunshine-bright, often smiling brother. But he knows-he always has-when I'm low. And when he does, Ollie will go to great, often ridiculous lengths to make things better. This is just one thing he can't fix.

Oliver stares at me, brow furrowed. He doesn't buy my I'm fine line one bit. Which means it's time to redirect before he stubbornly decides to get to the bottom of it and problem solve. I nudge my chin at the Scrabble board. "Your turn, Ollie."

He sighs, shaking his head, dropping the subject for now, and peers down at the board. A devious grin lights up his face as he brings his first tile to the board and places it beside the e at the end of entendre.

Tile by tile, they stretch across the Scrabble board, building a word that builds my sense of dread. E-S-C-O-N-D-I-D-O.

My brother lays down the last o with a jaunty snap. Sitting back, he smiles wickedly, then says, "Escondido."

I glare at him. "Yes, thank you. I can spell."

"You can't use proper nouns!" Seb calls.

"Yes, you can," Oliver and I reply in unison, locked in our mutual stare down.

"Or more than seven tiles," Seb adds. He frowns in confusion. "How did you get so many tiles?"

"You get to sneak one extra tile per turn when you draw," Oliver tells him, still holding my eyes, "unless someone catches you, then you have to return it."

"Bergman rules," Ziggy explains.

To which Gavin adds, grumbling, "It's mayhem."

Oliver's smile deepens. "But it's awfully fun mayhem."

I glare at my brother. He's doing it on purpose, taunting me like this. As I once said to him when he was fresh off heartbreak back in college, it's better to be mad than to be sad. Oliver's going for that, poking me about Escondido.

While my trips from Los Angeles down to Escondido aren't a secret, to my family's dismay, their reason is. That reason is the only private part of my life, which is no small feat-I suck at keeping secrets, and my family's so close and communicative, secret keeping is basically unheard of. This is a secret I've kept because it's something I feel deeply vulnerable about-the biggest risk I've ever taken, the greatest dream I've ever let myself cultivate and try to follow through on, which isn't a strength of mine. My ADHD brain loves newness-new ideas to explore, new projects to kick off, new skills to learn. So many things bring me joy. I've never seen why I had to settle on only a few of them.

But this plan, this hope and its possibility, brings me a kind of joy that's eclipsed anything I've ever dabbled in before. So, step by step, I've worked toward making it a reality.

"Escondido?" Linnea, Freya and Aiden's daughter, four and a half, as smart as a whip and highly observant, lifts her head, those dark waves she inherited from her dad frizzy from hours spent running around outside. "Mommy says if she got a dime every time Uncle Viggo drove to Escondido, she'd-"

Freya leaps from the table and scoops up Linnea from Gavin's lap. "Bath time for you!"

Aiden bites back a laugh as he hands over their one-year-old, Theo, to my mom, who takes him with a raspberry to his tummy that makes him laugh. "I warned you she was listening," Aiden tells Freya.

"She," my sister says, tickling Linnea, who giggles, "was supposed to be asleep when we had that conversation."

"But spying on you is so much more fun!" Linnie yells.

Freya sighs and hitches Linnie higher on her hip before starting up the stairs. "You, little miss, are a troublemaker."

Linnie's giggle echoes up the stairwell.

"On the subject of Escondido, and while you have the family's attention," Oliver says, leaning his elbows on the table, "care to tell us why you've been regularly burning two hours' worth of gas each way, driving down there for the past year, Viggo?"

"Up until two months ago," Ziggy chimes in.

I blink at her, stunned.

"What?" she asks.

"How do you know where and when I've been?"

Ollie rolls his eyes. "V, we have mutually agreed phone tracking, remember?"

"To my continued dismay," Gavin grumbles.

I blow Gavin a kiss. He flips me the finger, safe to show his true colors since Linnie's made her exit.

Seb snorts, highly amused by this. I glare at him, then redirect my ire at Oliver. "Ollie, we have phone tracking, but since when do you share that highly classified information with the siblings?"

"Since Ziggy wanted to know where you were and what was taking you so damn long to deliver those gluten-free cookies for Seb."

Everyone at the table says, "Awww."

Ziggy turns bright red. Seb wiggles his eyebrows as he throws an arm around the back of her chair.

"So," Ollie continues, "I told her you weren't in Escondido. According to phone tracking, you were poking around Culver City. And, in fact, you hadn't been to Escondido for the past seven weeks."

"You two have a disturbing lack of boundaries," Axel mutters.

Rooney beams a smile our way. "I think it's adorable."

I scowl at Oliver. I used to think it was pretty adorable, too, but I'm not such a big fan now that it means my family knows my migratory patterns have changed. It means they're going to be sniffing around me even more, and if they happen to follow me, catch me at the-

No. I'm getting ahead of myself. My family wouldn't follow me. We're a debatably overengaged bunch, but no one's that far in each other's business.

Except maybe me. And I'm me, so I don't have to worry about following myself.

"Well then," Oliver says, setting his chin on his clasped hands, smiling sweetly. "We're all ears. Go on."

I glance around the room, my family's side conversations now brought to a stop. All eyes are on me.

As much as I want to confess and unburden myself, I can't make myself share this risk I'm taking, this hope I have that could fail and fall apart. Not yet, not when I'm already so raw from this family staycation that brought Ziggy's boyfriend here, declaring his feelings, making their relationship official and leaving me surrounded for the first time by everyone in my family being happily paired off.

"What can I say?" Scooping up a handful of pistachios and throwing them back, I tell them around my bite, "Escondido's zoo is killer. I can't stop going back."

Everyone groans and grumbles, going back to their conversations.

"You don't believe me?" I ask.

"No!" they all yell.

I snort a laugh, chewing my pistachios, as that bittersweet bubble of being loved yet lonely swells inside me. I adore my family. I'm grateful for them. And I also feel further from them than I ever have before, because of how their lives have shifted while mine has remained fixed.

For now, just a little longer, I'm going to keep my secret.

Ding-dong.

The A-frame's doorbell ring echoes, silencing conversation once again. Ziggy shoots up from her chair and squeals happily. "They're back!"

"They" are Ziggy's childhood best friend, Charlie, and her partner, Gigi. Ziggy met Charlie Clarke when we were young, right after Charlie and her siblings moved to Washington with their mother during their parents' first acrimonious divorce (they have since divorced and remarried each other twice-it's a bit of a mess, according to Ziggy). Knowing my sister and Charlie's history, I wasn't surprised when Charlie showed up with Gigi earlier this week to celebrate Ziggy's birthday, which, in addition to enjoying a spring break of sorts, is why all the family's here. What did surprise me was when Charlie pulled me aside this morning over coffee and asked me for a favor that sent me spinning sideways.

Charlie, my baby sister's best friend, looked at me with those big hazel eyes and asked me for a favor I couldn't refuse:

"My sister," Charlie said, "her life has sort of blown up lately, and I'm worried about her, so I'm going to try to bring her here. I have to do something, and I feel like if I bring her here, it might help. You Bergmans can make anything better. If she says yes, if she comes, will you help me?"

"How?" I asked.

Charlie smiled, bright and trusting. "Just by being you. Put a smile on her face for me. She needs someone to make her smile. If anyone can do that, it's you."

It was on the tip of my tongue to explain how much harder that was going to be than Charlie thought. But that would have required admitting something I was much too proud to admit:

I'd already tried to make Tallulah Clarke smile, years ago. And I'd failed.

"Did Ziggy mention," I ask Seb, "if Charlie and Gigi were . . . bringing anyone else back with them?"

Seb frowns at his tiles, rearranging them in their tray. "No.
Why?"

I don't know how to answer that without giving myself, or the secret favor Charlie asked of me, away.

Seb peers up, clearly curious about my silence, and rakes back his dark wavy hair, frown deepening as his sharp gray eyes lock on me. "Viggo. Why?"

Ziggy grips the front door's handle and wrenches it open. I lean back in my chair, tipping onto its two rear legs, craning for a better view.

In walks Gigi, then Charlie, talking loudly, laughing about something I can't make out, as they shrug off their parkas and ease out of their boots. They step aside, like they're making room for someone else, like they're not alone.

Like someone else is there.

I lean back farther, trying to see past them. That's when I catch it-a full, soft shadow; a quiet throat clear.

Goose bumps bloom across my skin.

And then, behind them, as striking as a sudden silent storm, walks in Charlie's sister, the only other secret I've kept in my life:

Tallulah Clarke.


Tallulah Clarke is obviously not a secret to my family. They know her as Charlie’s quiet older sister who kept to herself, who never had the time of day for us Bergmans during the years Ziggy and Charlie were best friends, before we moved to Los Angeles.
One of Amazon's Best Romances of April!

“The combination of Tallulah and Viggo was just perfection. This is a book that will make you sigh and swoon and I wish it had never ended.”—Penny Reid, New York Times bestselling author of the Winston Brothers

"Smart, spicy, and gorgeously immersive. Only and Forever is a lush, heartwarming visit with the Bergman family that reminded me how much I adore getting lost in Chloe Liese's words."—Kate Canterbary, USA Today bestselling author of In a Jam

“Viggo and Tallulah’s love story is the perfect conclusion to the series that has been an unyielding source of joy for so many of us for the past four years. Chloe Liese consistently writes her characters with such tender consideration and from that comes another soft, beautiful, attentive novel.”Hannah Bonam-Young, author of Out on a Limb

“Fans of the ultra-popular Bergman Brothers series will LOVE the seventh and final book following the love story between fan favorite Viggo Bergman and cynical author Tallulah Clarke.”—Buzzfeed

"In Liese’s adorable conclusion to her Bergman Brothers series (after If Only You), lovable Viggo Bergman finally finds his soulmate... Viggo will be catnip for readers who like their romance heroes on the sensitive side, and he and Tallulah make a great match. Series fans will especially love visiting with the extended Bergman clan one last time as they help Viggo and Tallulah navigate their blossoming relationship. This sends the series out on a high note.”—Publishers Weekly
© Author
Chloe Liese writes romances reflecting her belief that everyone deserves a love story. Her stories pack a punch of heat, heart, and humor, and often feature characters who are neurodivergent like herself. When not dreaming up her next book, Chloe spends her time wandering in nature, playing soccer, and most happily at home with her family and mischievous cats. View titles by Chloe Liese

About

INSTANT USA TODAY BESTSELLER!

It’s a room-mance for the books in this tender, steamy story about unexpectedly finding love and being brave enough to let it revise life’s narrative in the final book in the beloved Bergman Brothers series.

Viggo Bergman, hopeless romantic, is thoroughly weary of waiting for his happily ever after. But between opening a romance bookstore, running a romance book club, coaching kids' soccer, and adopting a household of pets—just maybe, he’s overcommitted himself?—Viggo’s chaotic life has made finding his forever love seem downright improbable.

Enter Tallulah Clarke, chilly cynic with a massive case of writer’s block. Tallulah needs help with her thriller’s romantic subplot. Viggo needs another pair of hands to keep his store afloat. So they agree to swap skills and cohabitate for convenience—his romance expertise to revive her book, her organizational prowess to salvage his store. They hardly get along, and they couldn’t be more different, but who says roommate-coworkers need to be friends?

As they share a home and life, Tallulah and Viggo discover a connection that challenges everything they believe about love, and reveals the plot twist they never saw coming: happily ever after is here already, right under their roof.

Excerpt

One

Viggo

Playlist: "Everybody's Lonely," Jukebox The Ghost

If there's one thing you should know about me, it's that I love a happy ending. That butterflies-in-your-stomach, rush-of-serotonin, breathless, euphoric, wrapped-up-in-a-bow happy ending. The last page of a romance novel as my eyes dance across The End. A shorefront view of the sunset, toes wedged in the sand, watching fading light spill glorious gold across cool blue waves, the grand finale to the perfect beach day. The first bite of homemade pastry, finally perfected after countless recipe tweaks. And, of course, most of all, my family, side by side with their happily ever afters, crammed together at the long, worn wood table in our home away from home nestled in the woods of Washington State, the A-frame.

My gaze drifts around the room, the sound of everyone's rowdy voices and laughter sweetening the bittersweet. I'm surrounded by happy endings-my six siblings, their partners, their children, my still-so-in-love parents-and, given my love of happy endings, I should be fully, utterly content, too.

But I'm not.

Because I'm still waiting for my happy ending. Irony of ironies, salt in the wound, unlike these lucky ducks, who, in six different ways, serendipitously tripped and fell, kicking and screaming, into meeting their perfect match, I've been searching for mine. And I'm the only one who hasn't found them yet.

"Viggo!" Ziggy, my baby sister, the youngest in the Bergman brood, calls my name from across the table, wide smile, freckles, and bright green eyes, flipping her long red braid over her shoulder. "Scrabble doesn't have to be so serious. Play already."

I snap out of my daydreaming and peer at the Scrabble board, tugging down my ball cap to hide my eyes. I don't like being caught in maudlin thoughts.

"'Scrabble doesn't have to be so serious.'" Ziggy's boyfriend, Seb, tips his head her way. "Did you really just say that? The woman who punched my thigh when I built a word off of the letter u and compromised her plans for her q?"

Ziggy blushes bright red, narrowing her eyes at Seb. "That's different."

His tongue pokes his cheek. "How so, Sigrid?"

I still can't believe she lets someone call her by her full name. Then again, if anyone could get away with it, it's Seb.

"You," she says breezily, plucking a cracker off the plate of snacks, "looked at my tiles. You cheated."

Seb grins. "Now, why would I ever do that?"

"Because you live to fire me up and suffer the consequences."

He sighs dreamily. "And what glorious consequences they are."

"Ew," I say miserably. "Stop with the double entendres- Oh, hell yes." Inspiration having struck, I lean in and spell out entendre.

Everyone groans around the table.

"With that double word square," I tell my sister, "I'll take eighteen points."

Ziggy grumbles as she writes down the score. Seb takes the opportunity to whisper something in her ear that puts a smile on her face.

I avert my eyes and try not to slip right back into my mope, but it's hard. Mom leans into the crook of Dad's arm, her hand resting on his as they talk with my oldest siblings and their partners-my sister, the firstborn Bergman, Freya, beside her husband, Aiden; my oldest brother, Axel, born after Freya, holding hands on the table with his wife, Rooney, so at home in how they lean in together and talk and touch. My gaze dances farther down the table to Ren, the next sibling born after Axel, his arm around his wife, Frankie, who sits, hands folded and resting on her very pregnant belly, as she makes some dry quip. Willa, wife to my brother Ryder, born after Ren and preceding me, laughs loudly at what she says. Ryder grins at Willa, his arm stretched across the back of her chair, softly twirling a coil of her hair around his finger.

So affectionate. So effortless. So romantic. My chest feels tight. Pain knots, sharp and sour, beneath my ribs.

A toe nudges me beneath the table. I glance up and find my brother Oliver, just a year younger than me, whom I'm so close to, not just in years, but emotionally, that we've operated like twins for as long as I can remember. Except now he has his someone, too-Gavin, who sits, shoulder wedged against Ollie's, our niece, Linnea, perched on Gavin's lap as they color together, dark-haired heads bent over the page.

Oliver's eyes, ice-blue-gray, just like mine, like Mom's and Freya's and Ren's, lock with mine. You okay? he mouths.

I swallow, then force a smile. I'm fine.

He frowns, which is rare for my sunshine-bright, often smiling brother. But he knows-he always has-when I'm low. And when he does, Ollie will go to great, often ridiculous lengths to make things better. This is just one thing he can't fix.

Oliver stares at me, brow furrowed. He doesn't buy my I'm fine line one bit. Which means it's time to redirect before he stubbornly decides to get to the bottom of it and problem solve. I nudge my chin at the Scrabble board. "Your turn, Ollie."

He sighs, shaking his head, dropping the subject for now, and peers down at the board. A devious grin lights up his face as he brings his first tile to the board and places it beside the e at the end of entendre.

Tile by tile, they stretch across the Scrabble board, building a word that builds my sense of dread. E-S-C-O-N-D-I-D-O.

My brother lays down the last o with a jaunty snap. Sitting back, he smiles wickedly, then says, "Escondido."

I glare at him. "Yes, thank you. I can spell."

"You can't use proper nouns!" Seb calls.

"Yes, you can," Oliver and I reply in unison, locked in our mutual stare down.

"Or more than seven tiles," Seb adds. He frowns in confusion. "How did you get so many tiles?"

"You get to sneak one extra tile per turn when you draw," Oliver tells him, still holding my eyes, "unless someone catches you, then you have to return it."

"Bergman rules," Ziggy explains.

To which Gavin adds, grumbling, "It's mayhem."

Oliver's smile deepens. "But it's awfully fun mayhem."

I glare at my brother. He's doing it on purpose, taunting me like this. As I once said to him when he was fresh off heartbreak back in college, it's better to be mad than to be sad. Oliver's going for that, poking me about Escondido.

While my trips from Los Angeles down to Escondido aren't a secret, to my family's dismay, their reason is. That reason is the only private part of my life, which is no small feat-I suck at keeping secrets, and my family's so close and communicative, secret keeping is basically unheard of. This is a secret I've kept because it's something I feel deeply vulnerable about-the biggest risk I've ever taken, the greatest dream I've ever let myself cultivate and try to follow through on, which isn't a strength of mine. My ADHD brain loves newness-new ideas to explore, new projects to kick off, new skills to learn. So many things bring me joy. I've never seen why I had to settle on only a few of them.

But this plan, this hope and its possibility, brings me a kind of joy that's eclipsed anything I've ever dabbled in before. So, step by step, I've worked toward making it a reality.

"Escondido?" Linnea, Freya and Aiden's daughter, four and a half, as smart as a whip and highly observant, lifts her head, those dark waves she inherited from her dad frizzy from hours spent running around outside. "Mommy says if she got a dime every time Uncle Viggo drove to Escondido, she'd-"

Freya leaps from the table and scoops up Linnea from Gavin's lap. "Bath time for you!"

Aiden bites back a laugh as he hands over their one-year-old, Theo, to my mom, who takes him with a raspberry to his tummy that makes him laugh. "I warned you she was listening," Aiden tells Freya.

"She," my sister says, tickling Linnea, who giggles, "was supposed to be asleep when we had that conversation."

"But spying on you is so much more fun!" Linnie yells.

Freya sighs and hitches Linnie higher on her hip before starting up the stairs. "You, little miss, are a troublemaker."

Linnie's giggle echoes up the stairwell.

"On the subject of Escondido, and while you have the family's attention," Oliver says, leaning his elbows on the table, "care to tell us why you've been regularly burning two hours' worth of gas each way, driving down there for the past year, Viggo?"

"Up until two months ago," Ziggy chimes in.

I blink at her, stunned.

"What?" she asks.

"How do you know where and when I've been?"

Ollie rolls his eyes. "V, we have mutually agreed phone tracking, remember?"

"To my continued dismay," Gavin grumbles.

I blow Gavin a kiss. He flips me the finger, safe to show his true colors since Linnie's made her exit.

Seb snorts, highly amused by this. I glare at him, then redirect my ire at Oliver. "Ollie, we have phone tracking, but since when do you share that highly classified information with the siblings?"

"Since Ziggy wanted to know where you were and what was taking you so damn long to deliver those gluten-free cookies for Seb."

Everyone at the table says, "Awww."

Ziggy turns bright red. Seb wiggles his eyebrows as he throws an arm around the back of her chair.

"So," Ollie continues, "I told her you weren't in Escondido. According to phone tracking, you were poking around Culver City. And, in fact, you hadn't been to Escondido for the past seven weeks."

"You two have a disturbing lack of boundaries," Axel mutters.

Rooney beams a smile our way. "I think it's adorable."

I scowl at Oliver. I used to think it was pretty adorable, too, but I'm not such a big fan now that it means my family knows my migratory patterns have changed. It means they're going to be sniffing around me even more, and if they happen to follow me, catch me at the-

No. I'm getting ahead of myself. My family wouldn't follow me. We're a debatably overengaged bunch, but no one's that far in each other's business.

Except maybe me. And I'm me, so I don't have to worry about following myself.

"Well then," Oliver says, setting his chin on his clasped hands, smiling sweetly. "We're all ears. Go on."

I glance around the room, my family's side conversations now brought to a stop. All eyes are on me.

As much as I want to confess and unburden myself, I can't make myself share this risk I'm taking, this hope I have that could fail and fall apart. Not yet, not when I'm already so raw from this family staycation that brought Ziggy's boyfriend here, declaring his feelings, making their relationship official and leaving me surrounded for the first time by everyone in my family being happily paired off.

"What can I say?" Scooping up a handful of pistachios and throwing them back, I tell them around my bite, "Escondido's zoo is killer. I can't stop going back."

Everyone groans and grumbles, going back to their conversations.

"You don't believe me?" I ask.

"No!" they all yell.

I snort a laugh, chewing my pistachios, as that bittersweet bubble of being loved yet lonely swells inside me. I adore my family. I'm grateful for them. And I also feel further from them than I ever have before, because of how their lives have shifted while mine has remained fixed.

For now, just a little longer, I'm going to keep my secret.

Ding-dong.

The A-frame's doorbell ring echoes, silencing conversation once again. Ziggy shoots up from her chair and squeals happily. "They're back!"

"They" are Ziggy's childhood best friend, Charlie, and her partner, Gigi. Ziggy met Charlie Clarke when we were young, right after Charlie and her siblings moved to Washington with their mother during their parents' first acrimonious divorce (they have since divorced and remarried each other twice-it's a bit of a mess, according to Ziggy). Knowing my sister and Charlie's history, I wasn't surprised when Charlie showed up with Gigi earlier this week to celebrate Ziggy's birthday, which, in addition to enjoying a spring break of sorts, is why all the family's here. What did surprise me was when Charlie pulled me aside this morning over coffee and asked me for a favor that sent me spinning sideways.

Charlie, my baby sister's best friend, looked at me with those big hazel eyes and asked me for a favor I couldn't refuse:

"My sister," Charlie said, "her life has sort of blown up lately, and I'm worried about her, so I'm going to try to bring her here. I have to do something, and I feel like if I bring her here, it might help. You Bergmans can make anything better. If she says yes, if she comes, will you help me?"

"How?" I asked.

Charlie smiled, bright and trusting. "Just by being you. Put a smile on her face for me. She needs someone to make her smile. If anyone can do that, it's you."

It was on the tip of my tongue to explain how much harder that was going to be than Charlie thought. But that would have required admitting something I was much too proud to admit:

I'd already tried to make Tallulah Clarke smile, years ago. And I'd failed.

"Did Ziggy mention," I ask Seb, "if Charlie and Gigi were . . . bringing anyone else back with them?"

Seb frowns at his tiles, rearranging them in their tray. "No.
Why?"

I don't know how to answer that without giving myself, or the secret favor Charlie asked of me, away.

Seb peers up, clearly curious about my silence, and rakes back his dark wavy hair, frown deepening as his sharp gray eyes lock on me. "Viggo. Why?"

Ziggy grips the front door's handle and wrenches it open. I lean back in my chair, tipping onto its two rear legs, craning for a better view.

In walks Gigi, then Charlie, talking loudly, laughing about something I can't make out, as they shrug off their parkas and ease out of their boots. They step aside, like they're making room for someone else, like they're not alone.

Like someone else is there.

I lean back farther, trying to see past them. That's when I catch it-a full, soft shadow; a quiet throat clear.

Goose bumps bloom across my skin.

And then, behind them, as striking as a sudden silent storm, walks in Charlie's sister, the only other secret I've kept in my life:

Tallulah Clarke.


Tallulah Clarke is obviously not a secret to my family. They know her as Charlie’s quiet older sister who kept to herself, who never had the time of day for us Bergmans during the years Ziggy and Charlie were best friends, before we moved to Los Angeles.

Reviews

One of Amazon's Best Romances of April!

“The combination of Tallulah and Viggo was just perfection. This is a book that will make you sigh and swoon and I wish it had never ended.”—Penny Reid, New York Times bestselling author of the Winston Brothers

"Smart, spicy, and gorgeously immersive. Only and Forever is a lush, heartwarming visit with the Bergman family that reminded me how much I adore getting lost in Chloe Liese's words."—Kate Canterbary, USA Today bestselling author of In a Jam

“Viggo and Tallulah’s love story is the perfect conclusion to the series that has been an unyielding source of joy for so many of us for the past four years. Chloe Liese consistently writes her characters with such tender consideration and from that comes another soft, beautiful, attentive novel.”Hannah Bonam-Young, author of Out on a Limb

“Fans of the ultra-popular Bergman Brothers series will LOVE the seventh and final book following the love story between fan favorite Viggo Bergman and cynical author Tallulah Clarke.”—Buzzfeed

"In Liese’s adorable conclusion to her Bergman Brothers series (after If Only You), lovable Viggo Bergman finally finds his soulmate... Viggo will be catnip for readers who like their romance heroes on the sensitive side, and he and Tallulah make a great match. Series fans will especially love visiting with the extended Bergman clan one last time as they help Viggo and Tallulah navigate their blossoming relationship. This sends the series out on a high note.”—Publishers Weekly

Author

© Author
Chloe Liese writes romances reflecting her belief that everyone deserves a love story. Her stories pack a punch of heat, heart, and humor, and often feature characters who are neurodivergent like herself. When not dreaming up her next book, Chloe spends her time wandering in nature, playing soccer, and most happily at home with her family and mischievous cats. View titles by Chloe Liese