“Now see who’s a pretty girl,” Ledger croons as Honey snaps at him. She goes for his fingers, but he moves them deftly out of the way.
It seems our girl doesn’t like being made to wear an ugly Christmas sweater. But family photos for the holidays wouldn’t be complete without our sassy little chihuahua.
“Ahh, toddler on the loose,” I call from my place on the couch. Ben, our two-year-old son, has wriggled loose from my grasp and is now stripping off his diaper.
He tries to bolt from the room to a chorus of his twin sister’s cheers and claps. I’m pretty sure that’s the only reason he’s so determined to go streaking every chance he gets. It makes his sister smile and like Ledger, his family is his whole world.
Fortunately, my handsome husband is on his feet with an arm wrapped around Ben before he can escape. “Oh, no you don’t. Your mama wants pretty Christmas pictures this year and we are giving them to her.”
Ben grins up at his dad, revealing a mouthful of baby teeth.
He sits on the couch with me and Erin. She tries to make a go of it too, no doubt inspired by her brother’s antics. But he quickly prevents that by holding out his arm. This man amazes me. He handles our twins with perfect gentleness, always a kind father.
I was worried when I got pregnant with the twins. Neither of us had good childhoods and I feared it would mean we wouldn’t be good parents. But Ledger reminded me that we aren’t what we came from. Besides that, we’re both filled with so much love for each other and for our kids.
“Which one do you want?” Ledger asks, ignoring the way Ben is screeching at him to let him down.
“You take the feral one,” I insist as I reach for Erin. It only takes me a few quick seconds to get her dressed. She didn’t manage to strip herself all the way down the way her cute big brother did.
“We’re almost there, Mama Bear,” Ledger says as he tugs a diaper then pants onto Ben’s squirming frame.
He’s trying to fight Ledger at every turn, but my man doesn’t lose his cool. Having grown up with so little in the way of family has made both of us appreciate these mundane moments. “How are you feeling? Tummy still good?”
I pat my rounded stomach where we’re already growing Ben and Erin’s little sister. I don’t know how we’ll manage with three children under the age of three. We’ll probably rely on Ledger’s parents for their babysitting skills even more.
Ledger’s parents are amazing. They’ve had so many grandchildren in the last three years, and they dote on all of them. They never miss a birthday or forget a Christmas gift. They’re always available when Ledger and I need to sneak away for some alone time or just need nurturing and care of our own.
Last winter, all four of us got sick with the flu. Mr. and Mrs. Kringle showed up and nursed our little family. They never once complained. They just pitched in and helped with the kids while keeping the house neat. I know some people grumble about their in-laws, but I love mine. I love that they’re never too busy or too wrapped up in their own lives to help us.
“My tummy is good,” I reassure Ledger. My first pregnancy with the twins was easy other than the constant heartburn I experienced.
This pregnancy has been easy too, but it’s come with a lot more morning sickness. I know it worried Ledger at first. That’s why I saw Dr. Cash so I could reassure my protective husband that everything is fine. Not only am I healthy so is our daughter. Ledger’s face lit up when he heard we were getting another daughter.
“Then shall I chain the children in the basement, my queen?” Ledger jokes.
He’s not chaining them anywhere. He’ll put them in their car seats, but the kids thrash and whine like they’ve been chained up so that’s what Ledger calls it now. It’s a lot of effort so we can drive ten minutes down the road.
Cassie has agreed to let us take our family Christmas photos in her workshop where she makes the toys that are sold at the gift shop. It’s going to be a magical day.
“You may do so, my liege,” I answer as I get off the couch. At least, I try to. My big belly is not making it easy for me to do anything.
But Ledger already has my back. Literally. The man helps me to my feet, gently supporting me. He points to the ceiling above us, and I laugh when I catch sight of the mistletoe. He must have put it there this morning. I can’t deny that the sight makes me smile.
I press a quick kiss to his lips, and he blushes. Even after all this time together, he still gets shy around me sometimes. It’s so adorable!
“We’ll be ready to go when you’re done. And don’t forget, you have a date with a handsome cowboy tonight,” he promises.
“Oh, I haven’t forgotten.” I wink at him.
Despite our busy lives raising our kids and turning Liquid Courage into a bar and restaurant, Ledger still insists on weekly date nights. Not that I mind. There’s something wonderful about knowing my husband is so in love with me that he still wants to date me.
The photo shoot goes about as well as I expected this year. Which means, there was complete and utter chaos. I don’t think our poor photographer managed to get a single shot of the whole family looking at the camera and smiling together. But it doesn’t matter. I’ll cherish the memories we made today as much as I will the photos.
“What are you smiling about?” Ledger asks when he walks in the door later and flops on the couch beside me.
He just finished dropping off the twins with his parents. They’re staying with them all night which means we have plenty of time to ourselves.
“I’m smiling because our life is perfect,” I say with a soft sigh. My hand is resting on my belly and I’m already imagining all the adventures we’ll have with another baby.
We both thought that given Ledger’s medication, it would be difficult to get pregnant. But we’ve been lucky so far, getting pregnant easily and naturally. I hope it’s a trend that continues because I want three more babies.
He takes my feet in his lap. My ankles are swollen, and my feet hurt all the time. I have new stretch marks appearing on my belly and thighs every day. Even my stretchy pregnancy yoga pants barely fit anymore.
Yet each day, Ledger lets me know how beautiful my body is and how much he’s awed by the fact that it can give life to our children.
I purr as he starts his massage. “Do we have to go out?”
“I could get food delivered,” he answers a little too quickly. We love our kids but when it comes down to it, we’re exhausted just as easily as other parents. “Pretty sure that Anchor is working the grill tonight.”
Anchor is our cook at Liquid Courage, and he knows just how to cook a steak the way I like it. I never cared much for red meat, but I’m growing a little carnivore inside because I crave it all the time now. “Make the call.”
He chuckles and does as I instructed.
While we wait for our food, we talk about our hopes and dreams for the future. About the family we’re building together and the progress we’ve made in growing the restaurant business.
Ledger insists it’s all me, but I know I couldn’t do these things without him. He’s not just my best friend or my other half. He’s my soulmate and together, we’ll spend a lifetime chasing our dreams and loving each other.
I ruined my brother’s wedding. I punched him in the nose and took his bride for my own. Because he won’t worship those beautiful curves the way I will. He’s not interested in protecting and loving Cadence like I will.
Brennon is claiming his brother’s bride in Married to the Mountain Man. Pre-order Married to the Mountain Man now for a strong, silent alpha who falls hard for his curvy woman.