Colters woman, p.29
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       Colters Woman, p.29

         Part #1 of Colters Legacy series by Maya Banks
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Page 29


  The three of them strode down the hall toward Holly’s room. Adam noticed the absence of the guard who had been posted earlier. When he opened the door, he was greeted to a freshly made bed. An empty bed. He rushed through the door, slamming it against the wall.

  The room was empty. Completely empty. No trace that Holly had ever been there could be found.

  He stormed back into the hallway, his brothers close on his heels. He stalked to the nurses’ station and slammed his hands down on the counter.

  “Where is she?” he demanded.

  An older lady, the head nurse, maybe, walked over to him and put out a placating hand.

  “She’s been transferred to another facility. One that has better security than we do here. ”

  “Where?” Adam bit out.

  “She can’t tell you that. ”

  Adam whirled around to see David Masterson standing a few feet away. He itched to plant his fist square onto the D. A. ’s nose.

  “She left this for you,” David said, extending a folded note. “Don’t worry, Mr. Colter. We’ll take excellent care of her. ”

  Adam watched, stunned, as David turned and walked down the hall toward the elevator. He stared down at the paper in his hand, his stomach rolling and tumbling.

  With shaking hands, he pulled it open. Three words. So simple.

  I love you.

  He crumbled the note and sent it flying into the wall. His brothers wore expressions of disbelief. Ryan punched the wall, shoving a hole into the plaster.

  “What do we do now?” Ethan asked in a quiet voice.

  “We go back to the cabin. And wait for her to come home,” Adam said.

  Chapter Twenty-Nine

  Holly stood at the end of the winding driveway, staring up at the cabin. Summer had come to the mountains. Everywhere she looked, the earth burst with green. She’d only seen the landscape when it was covered with a sheet of white and had thought at the time it couldn’t be more beautiful. She’d been wrong. It couldn’t possibly look any better than now when she was coming home.

  She’d parked down the road, exactly as she had done once before. Somehow she’d wanted to replicate the journey she’d made so many months before.

  She smiled as the breeze lifted her long hair and blew it gently around her shoulders. She slid a hand over the bulge of her abdomen, rubbing absently at the gentle swell.

  With a deep breath, she started the long walk up the hill to the front door. Butterflies danced in her stomach. In response, the baby kicked and turned over. She stopped and put a hand to her stomach again until the sensation passed.

  She smiled and continued on. When she reached the front porch, she hesitated. The door was merely inches away, and yet, she didn’t knock. Should she just go in? No. She’d been gone too long.

  Would they welcome her back? Would they still love her? Uncertainty nibbled away at her confidence. Adam had been so angry the last time she’d seen him. She closed her eyes to banish the look of betrayal she’d seen in his expression.

  Tears swam in her eyes. She’d missed them terribly. She’d lain awake so many nights longing for their touch. She looked down and scrubbed at her eyes. It was over now. She was finally free to live the life she wanted. It was up to her to reach out and take it.

  Slowly, she raised her hand and knocked quietly. She waited a moment then mustered her courage and knocked harder.

  Her heart lurched when she heard firm footsteps from inside. The door opened and Ryan stood in the doorway, a stunned look on his face.


  She stared at him, praying he didn’t turn around and shut the door.

  Before she could say anything, she found herself enfolded in his arms. He picked her up and whirled her around, burying his face in her chest.

  The baby rolled and kicked between them and he froze. He let her slowly down then backed a space away. He reached out with a shaky hand to cup her swollen belly.

  “Is this…is this…?” he broke off his voice hoarse with emotion.

  She covered his hand with hers, holding it in place against her stomach. “Yes,” she whispered.

  He stared at her in stunned silence. Then he hugged her to him again. He buried his face in her hair and stroked her back. He reached between them to palm her abdomen again as if he couldn’t quite believe the evidence in front of him.

  “Our baby,” he whispered.

  He tugged her to the couch and sat down. He reached for her hands and pulled her down until she straddled his lap. Then he placed both hands on her stomach, a look of wonder in his eyes.

  He looked back up at her, and his hands traveled over the arm that had been broken then up to where the knife wound had torn her chest.

  “Are you all right?”

  “I’m fine. Now that I’m here,” she added.

  He reached up and framed her face in his large hands then pulled her down to kiss him.

  “I’ve missed you so much,” he said hoarsely.

  Tears slid down her cheeks. “I missed you too. ”

  A noise across the room had her jerking her head in that direction. She tensed as she saw Adam and Ethan standing in the doorway to the living room.

  Ethan’s face split into a wide smile, but Adam stared in brooding silence. Her heart flipped and her stomach dropped. He hadn’t forgiven her for leaving.

  She shakily crawled back off Ryan’s lap and stood, her fingers wrapped tightly together.

  Adam took a step forward. “Promise me. ” He stared directly at her, his eyes penetrating every layer of her skin. “Promise me you’ll never do anything so completely stupid again. Swear to me you’ll never leave us again. ”

  She flew to him, throwing herself into his arms. He caught her tightly against him. He held her head against his chest. He kissed the top of her hair, leaving his lips there for a long moment.

  When she pulled away, she found herself tugged into Ethan’s arms.

  “Welcome home, doll. ”

  He kissed her lingeringly then hugged her again.

  “Do you have something you want to tell us?” Adam asked, his eyes drifting to her stomach.

  She smiled. “You’re going to be fathers. ”

  Ethan let out a whoop and twirled her around the living room.

  “Put her down, dumbass,” Ryan said sourly. “She doesn’t need you throwing her around like a sack of grain. ”

  Ethan set her down and molded his hand to her belly.

  “Are you hungry? Want me to fix you something to eat?”

  “I’m starving,” she admitted. “I didn’t want to stop even for a moment until I got here. ”

  They herded into the kitchen and Adam sat Holly down at the bar. He settled in beside her, his hand caressing her back.

  “What happened?” he asked softly.

  She let out her breath in a sigh. “It went faster than we all thought. Mason showed no sign of cooperating even with my damning statement. Then the night before the trial was set to start, he entered into a plea bargain with the district attorney. He pleaded guilty and forewent the trial. ”

  “And he’s no longer a threat?” Ryan asked.

  She shook her head. “He’ll be in jail for a long time. ”

  “You did a brave thing, baby,” Adam said. “I’m pissed that you did it, but it took incredible courage on your part. ”

  She gave him a sad smile. “I missed you all so much. I was so lonely without you. ”

  Adam hugged her to him. “You’ll never be without us again, baby. That I promise. ” He glanced down at her belly. “When did you know?”

  She looked down, not sure she should answer truthfully. He nudged her chin up until she looked at him once more.

  “You knew before you left. ”

  She nodded. “It was such a shock. Amidst all the blood loss, the injuries, when they got routine lab work back, they told me I was pregnant. They fully expected me to misc
arry, but I didn’t. ”

  She paused before continuing. “I knew…I knew if I told you, that you would never let me go. And I knew I had to do what I did to protect you and our baby. ”

  Ethan set a plate in front of her along with a glass of milk. She wrinkled her nose. “Milk?”

  “For the baby,” he said.

  She rolled her eyes. “I hate milk. ”

  “Drink up,” he said with a grin. “You need it and so does the little one. ”

  She smiled, allowing her full joy to roll through her. She was home. It was almost as if she’d never left. A single tear slipped down her cheek, and she smiled harder.

  Adam reached over and thumbed the wetness away.

  “Not a day has passed that we haven’t thought about you. Worried about you. Cursed you,” he added with a wry grin. “Welcome home, baby,” he said in a more serious tone. He bent over and pressed a kiss to her belly. “Welcome home, baby Colter. ”

  “My divorce is final,” she whispered.

  “And don’t think we’re going to wait another day to make you ours,” Ethan commented as he sat down across the bar from her.

  A tingle snaked its way up Holly’s spine. “What does that mean exactly?”

  “It means we’re going down to the clerk’s office tomorrow and getting a license. A judge friend of ours will perform the ceremony. He’s aware of our situation. While you’ll legally be wed to me, he’s willing to arrange the ceremony to accommodate your commitment to all of us,” Adam spoke up.

  Holly stared at them for a long moment then felt her heart swell until she feared it would burst right out of her chest. They still wanted her. Acted as though she’d never left them, hadn’t been gone nearly six months.

  “I’ll really be yours,” she said in awe.

  Ryan snorted. “You’ve always been ours. Make no mistake about that. ”

  “Will you marry us?” Adam asked, fingering her hair, wrapping the ends around his hand. “Will you stay with us always? Love us as much as we love you? Be the mother to our children?”

  She stood and wrapped herself around Adam as tightly as she could. She hugged his neck to her and held on for dear life.

  “I love you so much,” she whispered. “Yes. Yes, I’ll marry you. ”

  Ethan let out a whoop and Ryan sat back on his chair, folding his arms across his chest in a gesture of supreme satisfaction.

  Adam kissed her long and hard, leaving her breathless. For the first time in six months, she allowed herself to relax and revel in the moment.

  Tomorrow she’d be legally, emotionally, completely belonging to the three brothers, and more importantly, they would belong to her.

  Life was full of ironies. Only in running from a past riddled by mistakes, had she found a future so perfect, so bright that she still had trouble believing it was her reality.

  “Anyone want to play Monopoly?” she asked.

  Only later, as they sat on the porch watching the sun go down over the mountains, did Holly wrap herself in the comfort that she was indeed home. For the first time since her parents’ death, she felt a sense of belonging.

  Adam reached over to take her hand, his thumb massaging her palm. “I love you, baby. ”

  She smiled. “I love you, too. ” Her gaze drifted to Ethan and Ryan, both of whom wore relaxed, easy expressions. “I love all of you. ”

  Ethan smiled. “We know, doll. After all, you came back to us. ”

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