“Lizzie! How did you get chocolate ice cream on your face again?” I finish fluffing the expensive throw pillows on the couch. They were too much money but today is special. Everything has to be perfect.
Ringo watches me from his cat tree, his tail twitching. No doubt he’s anticipating the moment my back is turned so he can leap onto the couch and curl up on one of the good pillows.
I turn to my three-year-old daughter who grins up at me. The ice cream has dribbled down her face and onto the front of her pink dress. Her brown gaze, so much like my husband’s, is filled with glee. “Daddy gave me!”
I sigh in exasperation. She didn’t ask me for ice cream. She didn’t have to. Lizzie only has to send her daddy a look and he’ll give her the world.
“Where’s your brother?” I ask about Sawyer as I reach for one of the specially formulated wipes I keep nearby. With twin toddlers, I’m always cleaning up them or one of their messes. Not that I mind. These are the little blessings that Cash and I prayed so hard for. We spent months in the NICU, eagerly anticipating the day we’d take them both home.
“Sawyer is right here,” Cash answers as he comes into the living room with his son in his arms. He’s still the same handsome man I married. But he’s changed in some ways too. The laugh lines around his eyes have deepened and there are flecks of gray in his beard. His middle is a little fluffier and he’s perfected the art of singing bedtime songs while being half-awake himself.
“He’s messy too,” I grumble, a slight note of panic in my voice just as Ringo jumps and struts proudly across my formerly wrinkle-free couch. “This is not the day for us to be looking like messes!”
When Cash looks at me, his whole gaze softens. “It’s fine, sweetheart. The journalist isn’t coming to judge us. She just wants a peek at our real, everyday lives.”
A popular Southern magazine had a contest for doctor of the year and of course, I had to nominate my sexy man. He won the contest by a landslide, but he doesn’t care about the title.
What mattered most to him was the essay I wrote with my submission when I told the editors about all the amazing and selfless ways that Cash cares for the people of Courage County. He got a little misty-eyed when he read my words then he pushed me back on the bed and spent the afternoon showing me how much he loves me.
“I just want everything to be perfect for you,” I explain. He spends so much time doing for others and taking care of his family. If I didn’t push him to take time away for himself hiking and fishing with his brothers, he wouldn’t do it. He’d just give and give and give.
“I have the world’s most beautiful wife and two precious kids. Life doesn’t get any better than that,” he answers with a kiss to my forehead.
As usual, the little gesture melts me and I relax. He always knows just what to say to calm my heart and remind me of what’s truly important. “You’re the best.”
The doorbell rings and suddenly, everything else fades away. This moment is about my husband and showing him off. He’s right. The journalist won’t care if the couch cushions aren’t fluffed, or the banister hasn’t been polished in a couple of weeks.
Cash reaches for the package of wipes, tossing me one while somehow managing to scrub a squirming Sawyer clean. By the time we open the front door, we’re both holding a fresh-faced twin, though admittedly Cash and I look a little worse for the wear.
The journalist asks Cash plenty of questions. She’s beautiful and flirty with a tinkling laugh, but he never acknowledges her unprofessional attention. Instead, he just keeps putting his arm around my shoulders and directing questions back to me.
When it’s time to put the kids down for their nap, he volunteers for the task and escapes for a few minutes. I chat with the journalist, offering her cookies from Haley’s bakery and a glass of my famous sweet tea.
“Maybe I can come by the clinic tomorrow and get an exclusive interview there,” she suggests to Cash when he enters the room again. She reaches for his arm, letting her fingertips graze his skin.
He reaches for me and presses a kiss to the glittering diamond on my hand. All those long nights he works and the pretty women who pay him attention and he’s never once given me a reason to doubt him. “What do you think, sweetheart? Do you have time tomorrow to help me give an exclusive?”
I give the woman a consoling smile. I can’t blame her for thinking my husband is hot. But she can’t have him. He’s all mine. “Always have time for you, baby.”
The woman finally sputters something about having to check her schedule for tomorrow and disappears out the front door. I watch her trendy little car fade down the dirt road and shake my head. “I think you have a new fan, Dr. Cash.”
He growls. “There’s only one fan I’m interested in.”
“Tell me more about her,” I tease.
“She’s got the prettiest smile, the reddest hair, and the best curves I’ve ever seen,” he says right before he throws me over his shoulder and marches toward our bedroom.
I laugh at his playfulness. Even after our years together, he’s still my best friend. My cowboy doctor makes me feel secure in our marriage, loved in our bedroom, and cherished outside of it.
If you enjoyed Cash and Summer’s story, you’ll love Jack’s too. He’s the protective cowboy who’s determined to defend his little sister’s best friend.
She’s in danger now and with my special skills, I’m the only one who can keep her safe. It’s a good thing too. As soon as this is resolved, I’ll show Justice that this protective cowboy will never let her go.