I slip into the darkened auditorium with my heart pounding. I hope I’m not too late as I scurry down the side of the aisle, stopping when I get to the front row. My bearded mountain man has saved me a seat.
He pats it, somehow knowing that I’m close by without being told. He whispers, “You haven’t missed Ellie. She hasn’t gone on yet.”
I settle into the seat next to him, feeling the familiar rush of happiness and contentment. Any time I’m near my handsome husband, my whole body relaxes. He’s my port in the storm, the safe place I can always go. “Was she nervous about today?”
“Some,” he answers which stirs little Zach who’s napping contentedly on his daddy’s chest. I already thought my husband was hot but watching him parent our two kids makes him even hotter. He’s a great dad and seeing him raise our family has only deepened my love for him.
Zach lifts his head, drool spilling from his mouth. He’s teething and sleep is a rarity in his world right now. He looks up just long enough to stare at his father before burying his head back on his chest and closing those beautiful blue eyes.
Nash rubs his back consolingly, murmuring little reassurances under his breath just as Ellie takes the stage. He smiles before she’s even said a word. He knows she’s there, his senses as tuned into her as he is to me and Zach.
Ellie performs her part in the school play. She’s a little nervous and stutters through her opening lines. Then Nash is repeating the words. He’s mouthing them quietly.
Her face transforms the moment she sees her father in the front row, reminding her of her lines. She relaxes instantly, transforming from a nervous, shy girl into a little actress who owns the stage.
When it’s over, we rush backstage to croon over her. Zach is in my arms now, drooling over a teething toy while Nash carries the flowers for our girl.
Ellie didn’t want to participate in the school play at first. But Nash encouraged her. He told her that sometimes in life the hardest things are the most rewarding. She took his advice to heart, and now she’s throwing herself into Nash’s arms backstage. “Did you hear me, Daddy? I did the lines! I saided them all!”
“You sure did, sweet pea.” He scoops her up and covers her with kisses. “You did such a good job!”
After the play, Nash treats us to ice cream then a trip to the park. He pushes Ellie on the swing and cheers for her on the monkey bars. He plays trucks in the sandbox with Zach and introduces him to the small slide designed for toddlers.
He finally collapses next to me on the bench after Zach has tired and some of Ellie’s friends invite her to a game of tag. I keep one eye on the group of kids running and ducking behind trees while Zach happily drinks his juice between us.
“How is the painting coming?” Nash asks. It’s why I ran late for Ellie’s play. I’m working on a series of paintings that feature kids in the foster system. So far, my paintings have led to two girls and a boy finding their forever families. I hope in the future more children will be adopted because of my work.
“Pretty good, I think.” I have to swallow a lump in my throat thinking of the little three-year-old boy I’ve been working with. He’s beautiful and smart and so darn adorable.
“You know, we are qualified,” he says quietly.
My heart rate speeds up at his words. After Ellie, we tried again and again for more children. We both want a big family, and we’d always talked of fostering one day anyway. So, two years ago, we started going through the process to become qualified as foster parents.
Once we found out we were pregnant with Zach, we completed all of the paperwork and the home inspections. But with our little one on the way, we put those plans on hold for another year.
Now with Zach having recently celebrated his first birthday, I can’t deny it’s been on my mind more and more. Especially since meeting Chris, the little one with the bright smile who has completely stolen my heart. I can’t explain how I know this, but he’s my son. I feel it in my heart and soul every day. When I’m not with him, I’m worrying about what he’s doing and thinking and if he has enough to eat.
“Are you open to that? I know we agreed to wait until the kids were a little older,” I say.
“He feels like ours, doesn’t he?” He knows. Of course, Nash knows. He’s been at the studio and met Chris. They shared an instant connection. My handsome husband treated the little foster boy like he was already his own son, doting on him with the same affection he shows to Ellie and Zach.
“The social worker said the little old lady he’s with now can’t foster him permanently,” I tell him. Chris will only be with her for a few more weeks, and already, that feels like a century to me. I want to take him home now.
Nash reaches for my hand, wrapping his big one around mine. “Call her and tell her we’re interested.”
My eyes fill with tears as I let out a deep breath. The idea of getting to foster and eventually adopt Chris sends a wave of rightness through me. “Do you mean that?”
“He’s our family. You tell her that. We’ll do whatever it takes to get the state to let us raise him.” He takes my hand to his lips and presses a soft kiss to my knuckles. He’s always putting his lips on me, always making my dreams come true.
“It feels like I’m coming full circle,” I admit. I grew up, a scared foster kid with no family. I had no one looking after me and caring for me. Until I met my bearded mountain man. Now I have a man in my corner who loves me and our children passionately. I know he’ll be a great father to Chris too.
“You’re an amazing mom, and I love our life together,” he says.
I look out at the setting sun, changing the color of the sky to pink and violet. It’s a perfect day to grow our family.
Escaping seemed like a smart idea at the time…until I find myself sold to the gruff mountain man.
Trace is falling for the woman he bought in Sold to the Mountain Man. Pre-order Sold to the Mountain Man now for a protective alpha male who is determined to keep this curvy woman…forever!