“Tell me again where the armchair goes,” Archer says, fighting a yawn. It’s late, and he’s been up since before dawn putting the finishing touches on our new space. He created an addition to our storybook ranch, a beautiful office that looks out over the mountains. These are the same mountains he loves and something about getting to see them every day makes me feel closer to him.
“Then I think it makes sense to put your desk over there,” I point near the big bay window. I love that we’ll be working out of the same space. While he started construction on this room, we worked at the kitchen table together, so we’re already use to it.
Archer still travels for work, and sometimes I accompany him. He’s cut back on the number of trips he takes. Now he tells me that I’m the only one he wants to be around.
“Oh, no,” he protests. “My desk will be next to your desk so I can reach out and touch you whenever I want.”
I put a hand on my hip and mock glare at him. “Then how am I going to get any work done, Mr. Scott?”
For the main part, I love working in the same space with my cowboy husband. Granted, I often stop in the middle of the day to find him staring at me. Usually right about the time I start licking my afternoon lollipop.
Archer still has that same drive and ambition to grow his business since we got married. But he’s also different too. Now he seems more settled. He doesn’t rush to jump in feet first, and when he does have a big decision to make, he asks for my opinion. I love that he values my input so much, and I appreciate his. More than once, we’ve stayed up late at night talking about our businesses and our dreams for them.
He sends me a heated look. “I’ll put you to work, sugar.”
Just a look from Archer is all it takes to have my core aching and my panties damp. The man knows exactly what to say and do to get my motor started. But before I can make a sassy retort, there’s a knock on the office door. We added an external door so if one of us needs to host a client meeting in-person, we have the option to do it easily.
Archer grumbles underneath his breath as I open the door to see Bear and his wife, Faith. They make an adorable couple. He’s built like…well, a bear while she looks like a tiny blonde fairy. Yet one look at him and it’s clear he worships the ground she walks on.
Faith rushes forward to give me a hug. She’s a hugger, but I really don’t mind. Her enthusiasm for life is what makes her a wonderful schoolteacher. “We brought the bookcases. Well, he brought them. I’m just the welcoming committee.”
Bear follows his wife into the room and grunts. He’s been working on his vocabulary, but I know he’s still shy around most everyone except his wife.
“How about in that corner next to the leather armchair?” I suggest, pointing to where I’d like them placed.
Faith looks around the room, taking it all in. She squeals when she sees the shawl on the back of my computer chair. She knitted it for me a few months ago. “I love that you kept it! My skills are getting so much better. Just in time for…” She stops herself and drops her hand from her stomach.
Bear glances toward her, and I know I don’t imagine the way his gaze softens. It always does when he looks at her. But now, it’s even more obvious than usual.
They’re having a baby together. The knowledge fills me with equal parts excitement and sadness. Excitement for Faith and Bear and also sadness for us.
Still, I force myself to push back that feeling. This is her moment, and I’ll be happy for her. Rushing forward, I engulf her in a hug. “That is so exciting! When did you find out?”
“Just a couple of weeks ago!” Her cheeks are flushed, and there’s no mistaking the sheen of tears in her eyes.
Archer claps his brother on the back and offers his congratulations as well. Bear beams, his chest puffed out with pride.
The rest of our evening passes in a blur of happy tears and excited chatter. Faith isn’t very far along, but she’s already making plans for a nursery and mentally building her future family.
When they leave, Archer walks them out and the sadness hits me full force. I move to stock the books on the shelf. I haven’t been working long when I feel Archer’s presence behind me. He wraps his hands around my hips and presses a gentle kiss to the back of my neck. “It will be your turn one day.”
“What if it’s not?” My voice wavers. I want to be a mother. Not right away but eventually and the thought that maybe it won’t be an option for me hurts my heart most of all.
“Let me show you something.” He takes my hand and pulls me outside. The late summer air is warm, and the cicadas are singing their nightly love songs as we take the stone path that leads to his workshop. I’m rarely in it. I figure this is his space to tinker and create.
“Alright, so it’s still early stages,” he warns as he stops in front of a workshop table. He reaches for a blanket covering a large, lumpy object to reveal a wooden cradle. He’d told me months ago that he wanted to get into woodworking, but I didn’t realize he’d started creating anything.
A lump forms in my throat, and tears fill my eyes. I reach out with a shaky hand to touch the creation. It’s not finished yet, but I can tell it’s going to be perfect when it’s done. “This is beautiful.”
Archer takes my other hand in his and gives it a gentle squeeze. “I wanted to show you this because I have faith that one day we’ll be filling that house with babies.”
His gaze is so earnest, his belief shining through it. I can tell in Archer’s mind that having a family isn’t a question of if in his mind, only when. “What if I can’t get pregnant? I told you what the doctor said last time.”
He tucks a strand of hair behind my ear. “So we foster or adopt. Getting placed with the Scotts—it changed my life, and if we get the opportunity to provide that for some hurting kids, I can’t say I’d complain about it.”
I hadn’t considered that. I’d always thought that fostering kids would be a glaring reminder to everyone who saw me that I’m a failure. But maybe that’s not the case at all. Maybe it’s only one more way to grow a family. “Like coming full circle?”
He nods. “There are a million ways we can build a family together, and when we’re ready, we’ll start that adventure.”
I can’t help wrapping my arms around his neck and pulling him close. “Did anybody ever tell you that you’re pretty special, Mr. Scott?”
“Maybe I could use a reminder,” he teases right before he presses a soft, lingering kiss to my lips. “Now, come on. Let’s set up the office so I can love you all night long.”
By the time we’re done with our new space, I’m feeling happier again. I still ache but Archer’s words have lessened it. We’ll start a family together when the time is right. Maybe it won’t look like everyone else’s, but it will be ours.
“I was thinking,” I tell Archer later as I snuggle next to him in bed. True to his word, he’s already loved my body twice tonight. He delights in taking care of my every need in and out of this bed.
“About what?” He tugs my hand up to his lips and presses a gentle kiss to the gold ring there. He does that frequently. I think he just loves seeing the reminder that I’m his and he’s mine.
“Even if we can have kids—” I start.
“When,” he gently corrects.
I can’t help smiling at him. “When we have kids, hopefully some the natural way, I’d still like to foster. I mean, you’re the most amazing person I know, and I think you’d be a great dad.”
“And you’ll be a great mom,” he reminds me as he tucks me under the blankets. He wraps his arm around me, and I put my head on his chest.
“And together we’ll live happily ever after with our babies,” I say softly as I yawn. I don’t know what my future holds. I only know that with Archer by my side, it’s sure to be the most incredible adventure.
If you want to know what happened with Bear and Faith, they’re starring in The Cowboy’s Obsession, the next book in the Courage County Brides series. Read their story now to see what happens when this stalker cowboy claims his curvy mail-order bride!