I pop an eyebrow. “I’m a married man. Your sister has similar requests. And nothing bothers Dillon McQueen.”
She rolls her eyes and tells me about her latest boyfriend and asks if he can drop by for the weekend. I tell her to check with Serena.
“Where is she?” I ask.
Huh. I don’t smell anything burning, so maybe dinner can be salvaged.
I head that way, eager to see her.
I walk in the kitchen and see her washing a dish at the sink, her copper and honey-colored hair spilling down her back. She’s wearing skinny jeans and a red, flowy blouse. I ease up behind her, stealthy, and wrap my arms around her waist. “Serena.” I smell her scent and exhale, letting the day wash away.
She leans back against me, resting her head on my shoulder. My hand settles over the baby bump on her waist. Our little one is due in four months. Using my face, I push her hair aside and kiss her tattoo. “How’s he doing?”
She sways against me as we move together to unheard music. It’s always like this with us. I can’t get enough of her, her smirks, her kindness, her fierceness, her beauty, the way she loves me. “She’s good. Kicked today when I did yoga.”
“Hmm, an athlete. You’re torturing me by not getting a sonogram.”
She turns around and drapes her arms around my neck. “I thought you liked surprises.”
“Only when I’m in charge.” For her birthday last year, I surprised her with a trip to Paris. On a random weekend this past March, I flew in Bambi and Chantal and they had a girls’ weekend while I hung out with Sawyer and Troy. Sawyer plays for Seattle now and Troy coaches high school football in Boston.
She laughs, champagne-colored eyes sparkling. “Um, surprise.”
“What do you mean? Are we going out to eat? I saw a new Chinese place on Main Street.” I give her a slow kiss, dragging it out, immersing myself in her.
“No, the caterers are coming any minute. We’re having a party.”
I kiss the tip of her nose. “Did Nana invite people to the cabin?” She invited her book club last month. Five old ladies showed up—surprise—and we hung out with them all weekend, mostly keeping them fed and showing them around town.
“Let’s just say it’s an early birthday party for you. October is right in the middle of football, so…”
I’m confused. “There’s no cars in the driveway.”
“Because I’m that good. Every guestroom in the house is filled.”
“Come with me,” she says mysteriously as she takes my hand and leads me out to the balcony that overlooks our backyard. It’s dusk, a little cool, the sun setting behind the Rockies. Below us, scattered around a roaring fire pit, people mingle.
My heart squeezes. I never imagined the family I have, but there they are, my dad and Brianna and their two girls. I see Nana running a makeshift bar, beer and wine set up on a table. Emotion tugs at me when I see the guys who were my non-blood family at Waylon. With everyone playing professionally, getting engaged or married, it’s hard to meet up—except on the field against each other.
I take them in, Maverick and Delaney, Ryker and Penelope, Blaze and Charisma, Sawyer and Bambi, Troy and Chantal.
Blaze, his arm looped around a smiling Charisma, looks up and sees us. He’s the starting wide receiver for the New York Jets. “Yo, about time you got here! This party has started, man. Get your ass down here and stoke this fire. It’s going out.”
Damn, I missed him.
“I love you, Serena,” I murmur softly.
She leans against me. “You like it?”
“I’m the luckiest man in the world.”
She takes my hand and we walk down the steps and meet them.
Maverick, a killer player for the Titans in Nashville, slaps me on the back and congratulates me on a good season. I comment on the defensive records he’s broken in football. The man is incredible.
Serena, Bambi, Delaney, Penelope, Chantal, and Charisma drift over to the stream where we strung up fairy lights next to the water. They grab drinks from Nana along the way. I smile as Nana starts talking. She’s probably regaling them with stories of her latest boyfriend Antonio.
Ryker, the starting quarterback for the New York Giants, gives me a bear hug. “Good to see you, man. This place is amazing. We need a ski trip out here.”
“Come anytime you want.”
Blaze gives me an arm punch. “How’s the season looking this fall?”
“Good. Gonna beat you.”
He laughs and gives me a hard time about a sack I took against the Jets’ defense last year.
Sawyer and Blaze compare their stats while Ryker and I discuss summer camp. Maverick talks about winning the Super Bowl and flashes his gold ring. We laugh about the bonfires at Waylon, the girls that captured our hearts. Whether the legend is true or not…