“Mama otay?” Bryce asks in his adorable four-year-old voice.

“Mama otay,” Rogue confirms. “She’s just sleeping. Let’s go play for a minute.”

He herds the boys out of our bedroom, and I hear one of them ask about presents. I already know what he’s going to do.

He’ll take the boys outside for a snowball fight then bring them in for pancakes and hot cocoa. He does it so I have plenty of time to sleep in and because he wants our boys to know the holidays are about spending time with the ones you love.

I yawn and burrow deeper under the covers. The boys kept us awake late, waiting for Santa. Bryson got up seven times in one hour alone, and I found Braxton hiding behind the Christmas tree. He was hoping for a glimpse of Santa.

The sound of the boys’ laughter outside makes me smile as I drift back to sleep. Since I gave birth four years ago, our lives have changed so much.

We’ve built an addition to the cabin, and I quit working for Hale. Instead, I sell dollhouses online, and Rogue has a business fixing up motorcycles. Our days are crazy busy, especially with twin boys to run after. But we love our little life.

I drift in and out of sleep for a while before I finally get up because I have to pee again. Becca kicks, and I put a hand on my stomach.

“Good morning to you too, little one,” I whisper. I was nervous about having a daughter, worried that would trouble Rogue and remind him of his late wife. But he was over the moon with excitement.

Mackenzie is wonderful with her half siblings. She’s constantly spoiling them, and they think of her more like a favorite aunt than a big sister.

Our boys are always over at her house and having adventures with their cousins. I love that my kids are growing up with a big, extended family.

By the time I get through a hot shower, Rogue is back inside. The boys are at the kitchen table. They’re having a loud debate over which one of their favorite superheroes would win in a fight.

I come up behind my sexy husband and wrap my arms around his middle. Two kids and he’s gained a little bit of weight, but I love what he affectionately calls his dad pouch. “Merry Christmas, husband.”

“Merry Christmas to you too.” I can hear the smile in his tone as his words rumble against my ear. Years later, and I still love everything about this man. Especially that deep rumble when he speaks. “Did you sleep good?”

“Thanks to you,” I say, coming next to him. I pass him two plates that he loads up with pancakes for the boys.

I slide them on the table and turn just as Rogue passes me a cup of hot cocoa. He gestures for me to sit then makes me some of his pancakes.

When the boys get louder during their fight, I glance their way. “Don’t argue or Santa will overhear.”

Rogue frowns at me. He doesn’t like it when I use Santa to get the boys to behave, but I can see the exhaustion on his face from being up so late and early again this morning. He’s a wonderful father who’s always doting on his boys and on me. I know he’s going to be just like that with his daughter too.

“Toys now?” Brax asks his dad eagerly, his pancakes still half finished.

Rogue has just sat down for his own food. By the look on his face, he’s about to push it away and agree. He’d sacrifice everything for our family if I let him, but that’s not OK with me. He needs to know I have his back, the same way he does mine.

“Five more minutes,” I tell them. “Go make sure Daisy and Lucky are awake.”

The boys race to check on our furry family members. Daisy is a senior dog now, and Lucky is aging too. But both of our pets still have a youthful spirit, and they love playing with our boys.

Last year, Daisy ran a rattlesnake off the property when it tried to come too close to our sons, and Lucky woke us in the night when Bryce was having breathing problems from a respiratory virus. Rogue jokes that having Daisy and Lucky means our boys have a second set of parents watching out for them.

I take another sip of my hot chocolate and Rogue reaches for my hand. We hold hands while he eats, enjoying a rare moment of silence. Neither of us tries to fill out. We don’t need to. All me and my mountain man have to do is exchange a look, and we know what the other person is thinking.

We get maybe three minutes before the boys are back again, and Rogue gives me a smile when he sees their eagerness. He spent all night working on bikes for them.

He cursed a lot during the assembly, and I soothed him with kisses. Lots and lots of kisses. Come to think of it, I’m not even sure how much he was truly frustrated and how much was an act to get me to calm him down.

The boys take their spots in the living room, settling on the thick oval rug while Rogue passes out the gifts. They tear through them quickly with the enthusiasm that only comes from being four and getting everything your little heart desires. They like the bikes, but what they really love are the plastic swords that were a gift from Uncle Ace. They scamper off to chase each other through the cabin, our beloved pets close on their heels.

I shake my head. “Months of preparation, and it’s all over in a few minutes.”

Rogue chuckles and takes a seat on the couch beside me. He wraps an arm around my shoulders. “True, but it buys five more minutes of peace and quiet.”

I put his hand on my knee and slide it up to my thigh. “I have an idea of how we could spend those five minutes.”

“Merry Christmas to us,” Rogue says with a chuckle as he scoops me up into his arms and carries me into our bedroom to unwrap a very different kind of present. Thanks to being kidnapped by Santa, every one of my holidays is now merry and bright.

***

The persistent cowboy is everywhere I look. He’s at my work. He’s at my apartment. He’s even in my bathtub.

He says we’re soulmates. He says we’re inevitable.

I say he’s wrong.

If you love a persistent cowboy who is determined to win over his girl, it’s time to meet Greer in Big Bossy Cowboy. One click for a story so hot you’ll need an ice cube!

Big Bossy Cowboy by Mia Brody

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