The bell above the door of Courage Cookies rings, announcing a new arrival. I dry my hands on my apron and glance at the clock. It’s closing time at the bakery I own.

I can spend hours lost in my own little world, baking new creations. Normally, Dean doesn’t mind. He just comes to fetch me and the kids around dinnertime. He jokes that if he didn’t, our family would end up living at the bakery, which I have to admit doesn’t sound like a terrible childhood to me.

The kids aren’t with me today though. They’re staying with Edna and Todd tonight. They usually do that once a month, but tonight isn’t their normal turn. Just one more thing that’s odd.

When I woke up this morning, Dean already had packed the kids a bag for an overnight stay, and he let me know that the bakery would be closing promptly at five tonight, so he could take me out.

I have no idea what he has planned, but I love it when my husband gets bossy. It turns me on when he takes control and starts issuing commands.

“I’m done. I swear,” I tell him as I push the bottom rack into the industrial dishwasher. This is the only one I load. Dean always takes care of the kitchen chores at home, and he enlists the kids to help him.

“I hope so, Mrs. Taylor,” he says as he passes me a bouquet of red roses. We’ve been married for almost thirteen years and not a week goes by that he doesn’t bring me roses. We have dozens of bushes in our front and backyard. Every week, he treats them with tender care.

I accept the flowers and sniff them, pausing to take in how good my cowboy looks in his blue jeans and t-shirt. It has the Taylor Ranch logo on it. It’s a little tighter on him than it used to be.

Raising a family means Dean is busier than ever now. He doesn’t get to work out as much as he used to, and his body is changing. He’s thicker around the middle, and his muscles aren’t quite as defined anymore.

I caught him sucking in his stomach the other day when he came out of the shower. I just put my arms around him and reminded him of how much I love him and all he does for us. His body may not be the ideal type that’s featured in magazines, but it enables him to roughhouse with our boys, take our family on hikes, and help our neighbors raise their barns. I couldn’t be prouder of this man or his physique.

“You’re very handsome this evening, Mr. Taylor. I love the stubble. Makes you look strong and rugged,” I tell him as I place the flowers in a vase of water. It’s kind of my favorite thing that’s changed about his body now that we have kids. I love that he doesn’t take the time to shave as often, giving him a delicious five o’clock shadow. “Now, what are we doing?”

“Celebrating,” he answers.

I frown. I’m not as good at keeping up with milestones in our relationship as he is, but I usually remember our wedding anniversary and the kids’ birthdays. Beyond that, there’s too much in my brain. He’s the one that keeps our family organized and on track when it comes to this kind of stuff. “Which is why I got you a lovely gift.”

“Liar.” He smirks, stepping so close I can feel the heat coming from his skin. “It’s the anniversary of the night we met.”

I smile, tipping my head up to look at him. That Atlantic blue gaze still takes my breath away, especially when I see the love and appreciation in it. “I totally remembered that.”

“So I’m doing what I should have done that night and I’m taking you on a date. A proper one. But if you still want to give me a gift, I have a few ideas in mind.” He waggles his eyebrows.

“No, this is what happens when I get you a gift.” I point to the baby bump that’s too big for me to just be three months pregnant with one baby. But Dean hasn’t said anything. He loves it when my stomach grows round, except this time he’s in for the surprise of a lifetime.

“We both love those gifts,” he reminds me with a gentle kiss on the lips. He puts a hand on my back and guides me out of the store, pausing to lock up.

What Dean said is true. We both do love the gifts. In our years together, he hasn’t changed. He’s still selfless in and out of the bedroom.

“Maybe we’ll get lucky with another daughter,” Dean says as we walk down Main Street. It’s a beautiful summer evening. The afternoon humidity is gone, the air no longer sticky. Now there’s only a gentle breeze that smells of honeysuckle.

Dean adores his sons, but he has a special connection with our little Alexa. At barely three, her personality is already starting to shine. She’s a sassy diva who has her daddy wrapped around her finger. The other day I came home from the bakery to find him sipping pretend tea while she painted his fingernails a deep violet color.

His brothers teased him about it later, but all the Taylor men are amazing dads. They’re big, strong warriors who love their women and kids fiercely.

Before I can answer Dean about his daughter comment, we’re arriving at Ernie’s Diner. He opens the door for me, and we settle at our usual spot. We spend the next two hours eating pie and laughing and talking about our lives. There’s something about going on a date with my husband. I learn something new about him every time, and I love that even after all our years together, he still wants to know me.

“I need to walk off some of that pie,” I finally tell him when we’re done. I know I’m eating for more than me but that was still a lot of pie.

He takes my hand, and we stroll down Main Street together, waving at Striker and Maisy. She used to work at the barber shop, cutting hair. Then Striker decided she was his and kidnapped her the night before her wedding. I guess things worked out between them because now he’s the one married to her and the two of them couldn’t be happier together.

Striker tips his hat toward me, and Dean growls at him. The men in this town are strongly possessive of their women. I put my hand on Dean’s chest and stroke it up and down. He settles only when the other couple has passed us. I can’t resist teasing him. “You do know other men come into my bakery, right?”

“I try not to think about it,” he grumbles.

He put a “no men” sign on my door shortly after I opened the shop. I rolled my eyes and told him that he’d destroy any chance of my bakery becoming successful.

Dean finally relented, but I think he may have threatened some of the guys around town. Even if they come in, they barely look me in the eye and they never linger after they receive their orders.

To get my big cowboy out of his grumpy state of mind, I tell him, “You know, that place is only a success because of your support. I wouldn’t be able to do it without you.”

It’s only because we’re a good team that it’s been successful. There’s no way I’d be able to manage the business and be a mom if Dean weren’t so dedicated to seeing my dreams come true.

I pause along the street, leaning against the brick building for Sew Cute. My friend Mallory runs a clothing boutique and with the surge of pregnant women in town, she’s decided to start a maternity line.

“That’s ridiculous,” he pauses too. “I’ve always believed in you, and I wasn’t surprised when Courage Cookies became popular. Face it. There’s nothing you could say or do that would shock your cowboy.”

I chuckle. “There’s nothing I could say that would shock you?”

He folds his arms over his puffed-out chest. “Go ahead and try.”

I point to my stomach. “More than one.”

He nods, his expression unchanging. “Figured it was twins this time.”

Of course, he figured out it was more than one. I’m much bigger this time around than I was with any of my other pregnancies. “Try triplets, Daddy.”

His serene expression slips, and his jaw goes slack. After a second, he recovers and snaps his mouth closed. “That’s…not shocking. Not at all.”

I lean up on my tip toes, my lips brushing his ear as I whisper the final secret. “Three more beautiful daughters.”

He swears under his breath, and I settle back on my feet to smirk at him. “Still not shocked?”

“No, not shocked,” he repeats and puts a hand on my stomach. His expression is filled with love and tenderness. “More like temporarily staggered and completely in awe of my incredible wife.”

I tap my chin, like I’m thinking hard. He always says the sweetest things to me, but I can’t resist teasing him a little more. “Hmm, then maybe you should get me a gift tonight.”

He takes my hand as we turn in the direction of home. “Whatever my bride wants, she gets.”

I laugh as we walk together into the sunset. Our brood is big now, and it’s about to get so much bigger. But I know that I can count on Dean. He’s not just my husband or the father to my children.

He’s my partner, in every area of my life and business. He keeps me grounded. He’s my peace when life is chaotic. He’s my strength when I’m weak. He’s my biggest fan and loudest supporter. But most of all, he’s my forever cowboy.


If you enjoyed Dean and Haley’s story, you’ll love Adam’s too. He’s the dirty cowboy who has fallen for his one night stand…

I spent months searching for her only to have her show up on my ranch. As my new employee. Who also happens to be pregnant with my baby.

Read Her Dirty Cowboy now for a one night stand baby romance with a filthy cowboy today!

Her Dirty Cowboy by Mia Brody