As soon as I step into the big house, I’m embraced by Tia. She’s a hugger, and she always makes everyone in the Scott family feel special. But tonight, I catch a whiff of her perfume and my stomach flips.
I pull away from her but not before she sees my face. “I’m sorry,” she whispers. “Is it bad? Do you need some crackers?”
She was with me earlier today when I peed on a little stick and learned that Storm and I made a tiny life. We’ve been married for a year now and six months ago, I started taking folic acid. After that, I came off my birth control pills.
Dr. Cash warned me that while the medication I’m on prevents seizures, it also makes it harder for me to get pregnant. So, Storm and I thought it would take a year or more of trying to conceive. Not that either of us minded all of those practice sessions.
I wave off Tia’s offer and look around for my husband. I’ve spent the day out shopping and after the news I received, I’m ready to see my man. But I don’t see him in the living room of the big house.
The big house is what we call the main lodging that the Scott men built over the past year. It’s a sprawling home with a dozen bedrooms, a theater, a giant living room, and a kitchen that would make a chef weep.
It’s the perfect place for our gatherings and with so many little babies joining the family, it’s definitely needed. I can’t wait until my baby is toddling along with her cousins. Or maybe his cousins. It doesn’t really matter. As long as my child is healthy and happy.
“I think he’s in the kitchen,” Tia says as she watches me scan the room. She knows exactly who I want.
To get to the kitchen, I skirt around the pool table in the den where Jamie is trying to convince Cade that what the house really needs is a moat. River laughs as he sinks a ball into the pocket and presses a kiss to Mallory’s forehead.
There’s so much love in this place. Everywhere I look, there’s laughter and light. It feels as if all my years growing up in a lonely cottage are now being erased thanks to my wonderful family.
I find my husband in the kitchen just like Tia said. He’s holding Lily, River’s eighteen-month-old daughter. She’s shoving a plastic teacup at his lips and he plays along, making a slurping noise as he drinks the pretend tea. She breaks out into giggles and he cuddles her close.
The sight makes my ovaries explode. I’m carrying this man’s child. His baby is inside of me and suddenly, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude and excitement. He’s going to be an amazing father.
“Kind of makes you want one, doesn’t it?” Valentine, another one of my sisters, asks with a dreamy smile on her face. She’s leaning against the counter and behind her is her husband, Ethan. She’s in his arms and one of his hands is resting possessively over that baby bump. She’s due in just a few weeks.
Paisley Jolene toddles up to Storm demanding, “Turn! Turn!”
“I’ll take a turn with you, princess,” Ranger calls out from the spot in his wheelchair. He’s already balancing his daughter on his lap. But he still reaches for his niece. I love how my baby will have so many uncles and aunts surrounding him or her with love.
Logan hustles into the room behind her and scoops up his eighteen-month-old daughter into his arms before she can make it to Ranger. His expression is filled with love as he gently chides, “There you are! Your mama will tan my hide if you keep running from me.”
“Would you really mind if Audrey did that?” Archer asks in a teasing tone. He’s leaning against the kitchen island with Laney, the matchmaker, next to him. They just found out last week that they’re pregnant and neither of them can stop grinning.
I can’t wait to tell Storm our news. I could tell him right now, but I’m selfish and I want that moment to be just for us. I want to watch the way his brown gaze will soften and hear his sharp intake of breath.
“I don’t think he would mind,” Audrey calls in a sing-song voice as she strolls into the now crowded kitchen and sends her husband a flirty grin. She’s the mail order bride who arrived with a baby on her hip. But Logan couldn’t turn away her and little Paisley Jolene.
Laney smacks Archer’s arm playfully. “Stop teasing them.”
River and Mallory join us with Jamie trailing behind them. The three of them are whispering and I’m worried that if we leave them unattended for much longer then they might actually start digging that moat.
“Alright, everyone in place,” Faith calls as she bustles into the room. Like most of my other sisters, she’s pregnant. She gives her husband, Bear, a smile as he sets up the camera on a tripod.
Bear is nonverbal although he’s been attending speech therapy and now he can speak many words. Still, I think he gets overwhelmed when we’re all in a group because he doesn’t usually say much.
Tia is the last in the room and she glances around. I watch her count the heads, trying to make sure everyone is here for the first annual Scott family photo. It’s our newest tradition and when I suggested it, I was surprised by how quickly everyone took to it.
“We should take this outside,” Cade says as he gestures to Jamie to join him. He’s carrying his one-year-old son and looking about as exhausted as most of the other dads here. Like Logan, the boys he’s raising aren’t his biologically. But that didn’t stop him from stepping up and loving them like only a father can.
“No, it’ll take twice as long,” Natalie says. “Besides, everyone is here now.”
Tia gives Natalie a nod as Faith calls out for everyone to freeze and smile. There’s a series of camera clicks and the light flashes twice. Then everyone is moving into the dining room to eat a meal together.
After BBQ chicken, coleslaw, and more pie than I think one pregnant woman has ever eaten, I finally leave the big house with Storm.
He holds my hand on the drive back to our little cabin. When he pulls the truck to a stop, I take a moment to stare at it. I love our two-room home. But we’ll definitely need some additions in the coming months. I’d love to have plenty of bedrooms to fill with my cowboy’s babies.
Before I can leave the truck, Storm is opening my door and carrying me inside our place. I’d thought that after a year of marriage that things between us would change somehow. But he’s still just as obsessed with me as ever and I love it.
“I have something to tell you,” he murmurs as he puts me in the leather recliner near the fireplace. He covers me with a blanket to ward off the chill while he starts the fireplace.
Once it’s nice and blazing, he goes to the kitchen and brings back a bottle of wine with two glasses. He sets them on the table beside me before picking me up again. Now he settles in the chair and hugs me close. I love it when he does this. I feel so safe and secure in my strong cowboy’s arms.
I snuggle against his chest and listen to the steady rhythm of his heart. “What did you want to tell me?” I’ve been trying to figure it out ever since he made the announcement a few minutes ago.
“I have a job offer,” he whispers, sounding dazed. He was approved by the state to work as a counselor a few months ago. He’s been looking for work ever since but despite numerous interviews, he hadn’t been offered a position anywhere. Until now.
Pride fills me at his words. He’s worked so hard and despite all the doors that kept slamming in his face, I constantly reminded him that there are still plenty of kids like Allie and Jeremy in the world that need him. “That’s wonderful, Storm! I knew you could do it!”
He grins down at me, his eyes filled with so much love and happiness. “You were the first one I wanted to tell. It’s an organization for youth in Sweetgrass River, and I’ll get the chance to talk with some of the kids there.”
He spent so long alone with no one to cheer him on and encourage him that now when something good happens, I want him to know how special he is. Leaning up, I press a gentle kiss to his lips. “We should celebrate.”
“I have the perfect idea for how we could do that.” He brushes a lock of hair from my face before reaching for the wine. We don’t drink very often but when we do, we have wine because it makes both of us horny.
“None for me tonight,” I tell him.
He sets the bottle down and frowns at me. “You didn’t drink at dinner either. Is everything OK?”
“I kind of have some news too…” I tell him, surprised at how suddenly shy I feel. I want him to be as excited as I am about this. “We’re having a baby.”
Like I expected, a soft light steals into his gaze and he puts a hand on my stomach. His voice is filled with awe and wonder when he asks, “My baby is inside of you?”
My eyes fill with tears and I manage a nod, swallowing so I don’t start crying right now. I never imagined when I stumbled into this hot cowboy’s cabin that my life would forever change. I have a thousand reasons to smile everyday now and that’s all because of him.
Storm pauses and his expression changes from adoration to concern. His tone is gentle when he asks, “Are you unhappy about this?”
I sniff. “This is the happiest I’ve ever been in my whole life!”
“Happy tears are my favorite tears,” he murmurs and somehow, pulls me even closer. He rubs a circle on my back while I burrow my face into his shoulder. He’s so warm and solid, so patient and enduring.
“Well, you can expect a lot of them,” I warn. It’s true too. I couldn’t figure out why everything was making me cry over the past three weeks. It wasn’t until I was with Tia today that I realized I’ve skipped my last two periods.
“I’ll take them all,” he promises. “The happy ones and the sad ones and the mad ones and anything in between. I’m your safe place, the one you can come to when you need to fall apart.”
I stay cuddled up with Storm for a long time before pressing soft kisses to his neck and down his chest. It’s not long before we’re a tangle of limbs, making love together slowly.
After it’s over, Storm carries me to bed and kisses my bare stomach. “I can’t wait to meet you, Baby Scott.”
I yawn as he crawls into bed with me. “I’m living in a fairytale,” I murmur just as my eyes drift closed. Because of this sexy cowboy, I have everything I’ve ever wanted. My heart is full, and my life is perfect.
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