I’ve just stepped into the barn when I hear Gage yell, “Try it now.”
My son is in the passenger seat beside his grandfather. He gives him a thumbs-up and Hawk turns the ignition. It still sputters, just like it has been for the past two days. The three of them are working to restore a Cadillac from the fifties. So far, they haven’t made a lot of progress
Hawk and Gage are into it which means eight-year-old Henry is constantly hanging around them and asking questions. I can almost see his engineering brain at work when they stop to explain the different parts of the car to him.
“Boys,” I call with Maisy, our nearly two-year-old, on my hip. “Our company is here.”
Henry hops out of the car and looks between the old vehicle and the house. “Did Aunt Tia bring her pie this time?”
Ranger and Tia are over with us tonight. About once a week, we get together with Gage’s best friend and his wife. But I don’t mind because Tia’s become like another sister to me. We talk every day and tell each other pretty much everything.
“You’ll have to go see,” I tease Henry about the pie. He’s only eight but he has an appetite like a grown man. It’s little wonder with the way he’s always following Gage around the farm. If he could quit school and simply be his father’s fulltime shadow, I’m pretty sure he’d jump at the chance.
Henry takes a step forward like he’s going to run but Gage catches him easily by the shirt. He nods toward the sink in the corner of the barn. “Wash up first.”
“You’re covered too,” I tell him as Henry scampers off to follow his instructions. Gage spends his days working the farm and he’s always coming inside covered in a sheen of dirt and sweat. Not that I mind. There’s nothing like seeing my hunky husband working the land and caring for our animals.
Maisy lunges for Gage. Normally, he’d pick her up but this time, he shakes his head. “Not yet, Maisy Daisy. Wait for clean Daddy.”
She pouts and looks away, her lower lip quivering.
I pull her closer against my chest, chuckling as we walk toward the house. Behind us, I can hear Hawk telling Henry he missed some grease on his arm. “She’s just sleepy. I’ll put her down while you get in the shower.”
Once Maisy is asleep, I sneak past the kitchen where Ranger is entertaining Hawk and Henry with stories about this bull’s latest escape attempt. Quietly, I open the bathroom door and slip out of my clothes. Then I knock against the counter to get his attention. The sound is just enough to let him know I’m in here, so I won’t startle him.
He peers out from behind the shower curtain and gives me a grin. “I was hoping you’d join me.”
I step into the shower and wrap my arms around him. Spooning Gage from behind is one of my favorite things to do. “I’m here to make sure you get completely clean.”
Twenty minutes and two orgasms later, he towels me off. He pauses when he sees one of the scratches on my arm.
“Cat,” I remind him.
I’m still in therapy, but I haven’t cut myself in over a year. When Henry’s cat scratched me yesterday, I showed it to Gage immediately. I didn’t want him to think I’d relapsed. He worries about me so much.
Even though I’ve been in therapy for over two years, he still drives me to every appointment. He takes me out for ice cream afterwards and we do something fun together. It’s like he understands that after I’ve faced the darkness, I need to be pulled back into the light again. He’s always the man that steps into my pain and gives me the gentle comfort of his presence.
No matter what I’ve told him about my past or how many times I’ve broken down in tears from flashbacks and nightmares, he never runs. He never flinches in the face of my pain. He just keeps loving me.
Gage runs a thumb along my arm. “Come to me…if it ever gets bad again. Promise me.”
“I promise,” I answer as he wraps the towel around me. I put my hand on his arm. “There are still moments when it’s hard. But it’s not like it was back then.”
He wraps a towel around his hips before tugging me into our bedroom. “What’s different now?”
“Now,” I explain, cupping his face and seeing the way it makes the hunger start in his eyes. We may have just satisfied each other but I still can’t touch him without both of us nearly bursting into flames. “Now, I know how loved I am.”
“Damn straight.” He presses a kiss to my forehead and eyes the bed. “How long do you think we have before my friend realizes we’re using him as a babysitter for Hawk and Henry?”
I laugh and press a kiss to his chest. “Thank you for making me and our babies feel loved every day. No matter what’s going on, you always put us first.”
“That’s the way it should be,” he answers pulling me down onto the bed. “You and our kids will always be my whole world.”
“What if your world got a little bit bigger?” I take his hand and press a kiss to his palm before pressing it to my towel-clad stomach. “Would that be OK?”
He gives me the biggest grin I’ve ever seen, his eyes filled with contentment and happiness. “Are you kidding me? That would make me so damn happy.” He frowns. “How are you feeling?”
My pregnancy with Maisy was difficult because I had just started therapy and was finally dealing with the self-injury. The pregnancy hormones combined with increasing anxiety led me to have several panic attacks early on. He held me through all of them, reassuring me each time that one day we would come through on the other side. He was right.
He slips his hand between the folds of the towel to touch the skin of my stomach. The sound he makes in the back of his throat is all masculine pride. “Hello, little one.”
“Do you want another precious daughter or a strong son?” I ask, loving the look on his face. It turns me on to know what a gentle father he is.
He’d do anything for his kids. He’s taken Henry camping and fishing a dozen times in the past year. When a science project frustrated Henry one day, Gage spent hours sitting with him until he was able to figure it out. He didn’t lose patience or demand Henry try a different tactic. He let him do the work while staying nearby to offer his support.
He gives me a wicked grin. “How about another one of each?”
He’s already told me that he wants a half dozen kids. If I told him every year for a decade that I was pregnant, he’d be just as excited each time. He loves the idea of a big family because he only had his mom growing up.
I smack his shoulder. “I know you didn’t just suggest the t-word.”
“Twice the fun,” he insists.
I chuckle. “What are the odds we’d have twins?”
He leans back on his pillow and puts my head on his shoulder. “I’m already the luckiest man on earth to have a wife like you, a son like Henry, and a daughter like Maisy. I figure that gives me good odds.”
I twine my fingers through his. “I’d be honored to have your twins. But maybe not this time around.”
“We’ll see,” he insists as he presses a gentle kiss to my lips. “You’ve heard of fraternal twins, right?”
I just laugh again. This man never fails to make me smile. He’s everything I didn’t know I wanted and never imagined I could have. But here he is, loving me and our precious babies every day. He’s given me so much more than a family. He’s given me security, confidence, and most importantly, love.
If you want to know what happened with Ranger and Tia, they’re starring in The Cowboy’s Bride. It’s the first book in my new cowboy series. Read their story now for a disfigured, grumpy cowboy who falls for his curvy, innocent bride!