Tied up, tied down, p.19
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       Tied Up, Tied Down, p.19

         Part #4 of Rough Riders series by Lorelei James
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Page 19

 

  “Then why is this the first I’ve heard of it, Kade McKay?”

  His hand froze. “Shit. I didn’t tell you?”

  “Nope. ”

  “You’re sure?”

  Skylar lifted up to look at him. “Positive. You haven’t exactly been around the last couple days to tell me anything. ”

  “Ah hell, Sky, I meant to. I’m so damn sorry. ”

  “Me too. ” Could he read between the lines and understand she was sorry for so many things that’d gone wrong between them?

  “I’d understand if you didn’t want to come on such short notice. ”

  His sheepish expression squashed her intent to keep teasing him. “Lucky thing Miz Eliza Belle and I don’t have anything else to do so she can make her McKay family debut, huh?”

  Relief swept his face. “Lucky indeed. ”

  “Will you be around?”

  “Some. Why?”

  Sky could scarcely think over the clucking noises echoing in her head. Truth was, she might be totally confident when it came to running her business, but this social situation absolutely petrified her, especially when she’d heard rumors about the wild, boisterous McKay family. She also feared they’d circle the wagons around her, holding pitchforks, demanding an answer to the same question AJ McKay had posed: why hadn’t she told Kade about her pregnancy?

  “Sweetheart? What’s wrong?”

  That pesky “be honest” voice appeared again. “I’m nervous, okay? I don’t know anything about big families and if you won’t be there I’ll probably freak out and then people will think I’m some kind of West Coast nutjob—”

  Kade muffled her protests with a gentle kiss. “It’ll be all right, I’ll be around as much as I can. That said, I ain’t gonna lie. My family is a bit overbearin’. They’ll ask all sorts of personal questions that quite frankly, ain’t none of their damn business. But I’ve seen you in action, Skylar. You can handle anything. ”

  “Anything but you, it seems,” she murmured. Without conscious thought, she traced the dark stubble on his jaw; her fingers detoured to outline his full lips. “You have such an intriguing mouth. Even when you’re scowling at me. ”

  “Yeah?”

  “Yeah. I know you think you’re just another one of those McKay men that populate three Wyoming counties, but you are different, Kade. From Kane. From your cousins.

  Even your standard issue McKay blue eyes are more compelling…they draw me in.

  Every damn time. Anyone who can’t see the differences is a fool. ” Why haven’t I seen it?

  Why have I acted like such a fool?

  “Sky—”

  Eliza squeaked once. Twice. Louder the third time.

  “Oops, there’s our alarm clock. ” Saved from further embarrassing admissions about his virtues, she rolled off the couch. Impulsively she leaned over and kissed Kade’s forehead. “Thanks for last night. ”

  She felt him staring as she cooed to their baby and got a jumpstart on the big day.

  Chapter Twelve

  “Skylar! You’re here. ”

  She bit back a smile at the sight of Kimi McKay nearly skipping toward her. “Don’t you mean Eliza is here?”

  “No, smarty. I’m just as happy to see you as I am my beautifully perfect granddaughter. ”

  Kade didn’t get all his sweet-talkin’ ability from the McKays. Sky had no doubt Kimi could charm the bees from the flowers. “Here she is. All decked out for her first rodeo. ”

  Kimi laughed with delight. “Where on earth did you find jeans that small? With rhinestones?”

  “Aunt India. She goes a little insane buying Eliza clothes. Toys. Books. ”

  “About that…” Kimi smiled. “I sorta went hog wild too, but that cute girlie stuff is impossible to resist, especially since I’ve never had the chance to buy it before. I keep reminding Kade to load it all up and take it to you. He keeps forgetting. ”

  Casually, she asked, “Why don’t you bring it over?”

  “Really?”

  “Sure. Pick a day. If you want, I’ll even put you on babysitting duties while I’m at work and you can have Miz Eliza all to yourself. Of course, you’ll have to hand her over when Kade gets home. He’s a bit territorial when it comes to time with his girl. ”

  Kimi made a frowning, blinking expression.

  Had she said the wrong thing to Kade’s mother? “I didn’t mean to presume—”

  “Presume? Lord, girl, you really don’t know how much I appreciate the invite. ”

  It was Sky’s turn to act surprised. “You don’t need an invitation, Kimi. You’re welcome any time. ”

  “Really? I’ve been tickled the couple of times Kade has brought Eliza into Sundance so I could see her. But I haven’t wanted to butt in and be a nuisance. Overstep my bounds. Meddle where I wasn’t wanted. ”

  “Seems we both have boundary issues,” Sky murmured. “As far as meddling?

  You’re Eliza’s grandma. Actually, you’re her only grandma. ” A tiny burst of sadness broke inside her, thinking about her own mother never knowing her child and she looked away before she refocused on Kimi’s all-knowing eyes. “Just because Kade and I are…whatever we are, I didn’t intend to keep Eliza away from him or any of her family. ”

  “Then why didn’t you tell anyone Kade is her father?”

  “Because Kade deserved to know first. ” She glanced at their alert daughter. “The way the situation played out wasn’t ideal for anyone. But the bottom line is, Kade’s a really great dad. You should be proud of him. ”

  “You don’t have any idea how much that means to me. All of it. ” Kimi wiped a tear and laughed. “Lord. I’m leaking. ”

  Sky was leaking a little too. Flustered, she handed the squirming baby to her grandma.

  “What a little angel. Your mama did good, didn’t she?”

  Eliza cooed back her agreement.

  Before Sky started leaking again, she said, “So I brought everything but the kitchen sink. Help me figure out what to load up. ”

  Kimi eyed the pile in the back of the car. “Things sure have changed since my boys were babies. I would’ve loved to have one of them double strollers. ” She winked.

  “Maybe next time you and Kade will have a set of twins. ”

  “Next time?”

  “I’m greedy, aren’t I? Cal and I always wanted to have more kids, but it never happened, so feel free to overfill my arms and life with grandbabies. ”

  Rather than feel put on the spot, Skylar laughed. She and Kimi chatted easily as Sky pushed the empty stroller across the bumpy ground while Kimi walked beside her holding Eliza. Family friends would stop and admire the newest McKay baby, congratulating both mom and grandma, and Kade in absentia. Another pleasant revelation was so many people knew about the Sky Blue store and already considered her part of the community. It made Sky wonder if she was spending too much time at the manufacturing plant and not enough putting a face with her products. If she should take India’s advice and let Annie have more responsibility so she could focus on local marketing.

  When they reached the entrance, Kimi said, “I believe these tickets are for seats in the upper stands, but I didn’t know how long you’d want to stay up there. Gets mighty hot and it’ll be a while before Kade competes. ”

  “What is he competing in?”

  “Team ropin’ for sure. ”

  “Is that dangerous?”

  “All rodeo events are dangerous, honey. ”

  “Is there a chance he’ll get hurt?”

  “Yes. ”

  Suddenly, the fun afternoon took on a more ominous slant. “Then why would he do it?” Sky couldn’t fathom the idea of Kade purposely putting himself at risk. She couldn’t stand it, dammit, it’d hurt her to watch the big, tough cowboy get injured.

  “I don’t know. I’m thankful neither he nor Kane were obsessed with being a rodeo star like some o
f his cousins. Kade dabbled in events. Nothing serious like Chase is doing now and Colby and Dag done. ” A stark look flashed in Kimi’s eyes.

  Skylar placed her hand on Kimi’s arm. “Sometimes I have zero tact. I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to bring up painful memories. ”

  “Thanks, sweetie, but it’s unavoidable, especially on a day like today. Dag’s death was hard on all of us. Then Dag’s father, my brother Harland, died not a month later. ”

  “Really? I didn’t know. How awful for your family. That’s so sad. ”

  “It was a mess. Colt was in rehab. No one could get a hold of Cam. Chase was competing in a special PBR event in Mexico and he couldn’t get home. Kade had only been up north for two weeks so Kane had to drive up there to give him the bad news and bring him home for the service. Poor Chassie was a zombie. Everything between Dag’s funeral and Harland’s funeral was kind of a blur. ” She shook her head as if to clear it.

  “Been a really rough year for the Wests and McKays, which is just another reason we were all so tickled about Eliza.

  “So to take the long way around answering your question, I suspect Kade is competing because Dag isn’t here. Lots of Dag’s rodeo friends are showing up today to lend support and engage in a little friendly competition. ” All at once an enormous grin lit up Kimi’s face. “Speaking of…Chassie. Over here. ”

  Skylar turned and watched as the woman sauntered toward them—saunter being the operative word. Her gait screamed one hundred percent cowgirl. So did her clothes, she was no rhinestone belt wearing buckle bunny. She wore battered lace-up boots, skin-tight faded jeans and a long-sleeved T-shirt emblazoned with, “Real Cowgirls Do It Best in the Dirt”. Dark brown hair as long and glossy as a horse’s tail was plaited in a single, thick braid that fell past her butt. An angular face—apple cheekbones, pointed chin, broad forehead and a generous mouth that hinted of Native American ancestry.
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