He stretched and I was distracted by the tanned expanse of gloriously hardened flesh showing where his shirt had ridden up. I could see his muscles working under there, tensing and flexing as he moved around.

His sleep-roughened voice reached my ears. “There you go staring again, baby. Need to get that camera out soon.”

I flushed. “Smart ass,” I mumbled, looking away from his smirk.

He got up and moved away from the couch, stopping at my side to enfold me in his arms. He tipped my head up and kissed my lips briefly before he headed off down the hall, nonchalantly scratching his ass as he went.

I rolled my eyes. Typical male.

He came back into the living room, holding out his phone. He waved it at me when I didn’t take it right away. “Thought you might want to see a picture of Everly.”

“Oooh! I do!” I snatched the phone from his hands and thumbed through the photos. “She’s so freakin’ adorable…” I sighed, smiling at a beautiful picture of Luke sitting beside Emma, his arm around her as she held the baby. They made such a gorgeous, happy little family.

“I talked to Jackson and he said that we can bring Grady back home and see Liam for a bit before we head to hospital to see Everly again. It blows my fucking mind that we have two babies in the family now. How does that even happen?”

Brandon’s face was bewildered. I knew what he meant, but I couldn’t help but tease him. “Well, you see, there’s a daddy and a mommy; the daddy puts his penis in the mommy and his spermies come out and mix with the mommy’s egg, so the baby is then planted in the mommy. It just so happened that TWO mommies and daddies got down in Sexy Town around the same time, and so the babies were born very close together.”

“Is that how it happens?” he said sarcastically when I was finished.

I nodded, definitely being a smart ass.

He lunged at me, catching me around the waist and flinging me over his shoulder. I squealed with laughter and shouted as he smacked my ass, as usual. “Since you want to be such a smart ass this morning…” His words cut off as he jiggled me on his shoulder.

“Oh, yeah? And just what are you gonna do to me, ya big, bad meanie?” I goaded.

“You’re asking for it, sunshine,” he growled.

“You going to punish me?” I asked, my tone lowering mischievously.

He chuckled, palming my rounded ass cheek and squeezing it roughly before smacking it again. “Not right now, I’m not. But I won’t forget you egging me on like this, woman. Just wait til tonight.”

He carried me into the bedroom, set me on my feet, and gave me a gentle push toward the bathroom. “Shower, now!”

I saluted him smartly and dashed into the bathroom, slamming the door shut behind me when his eyes narrowed and he took a menacing step in my direction.

A little while later, Grady was safely back with Allie and Jackson, I’d had ample cuddle time with the cutest little nephew in the world, and we were on our way to the hospital with a huge pink teddy bear and a bouquet of flowers in tow.

I eyed the bear as we crammed into the elevator, shaking my head in exasperation at Brandon. “You could have left that at their house, you know.”

He hugged it tighter to his side. “Nope. I wanted her to have it now.”

“Brandon, that thing is huge! It’s going to take up half of Emma’s room.”

He didn’t reply, just shifted it so that the leg of the thing nearly knocked me backwards. I glared at him and he just shrugged, but I could see the sly smile playing about his lips.

I walked into Emma’s room to see her sitting up in the bed, nursing the baby. Luke was passed out on the sofa along the window, snoring lightly.

“Hey!” she said brightly. “I’m so glad you came…I felt so bad last night that you weren’t here with everyone, but I really appreciate you taking care of the dogs for us.”

I smiled and hugged her, careful not to jostle the baby sucking greedily at her breast. “Don’t worry about it. It’s not a big deal and I’m here now, so…God, Emma, she’s so gorgeous!” I breathed, running a finger lightly down her soft little cheek.

“She is, isn’t she?” Emma beamed with pride, and then her eyes blinked owlishly as she took in the ginormous bear Brandon was holding. “Where the hell are you gonna put that?” she asked him.

“It’s for Everly, so hush,” he replied affectionately, walking over and kissing Emma’s forehead and then the top of the baby’s head.

“Get your lips away from my woman, perv,” a groggy voice called from the other side of the room.

Brandon, checking to make sure he wouldn’t hit anything or anyone else in the process, chucked the huge bear at his brother, who’d just sat up and was rubbing his eyes. Emma rolled her eyes and we shook our heads.

“Boys,” she said, “They never grow up.”

I nodded and laughed when Luke glared at Brandon and then got up and punched him in the shoulder. I guess some things never change, even when you’re grown.

Emma shifted in the bed, pulling the now sleeping baby away from her chest and pulling her gown back up over her shoulder. She swaddled the infant tighter and held her out to me, asking silently if I wanted to hold her.

I grinned, excited to hold the little bundle. I took her gently and cradled her in my arms as I walked to the rocking chair in the corner. I rocked and cooed to her as she slept peacefully in my arms.

“So how happy are Jan and Ben, Emma?” I asked as I stared down at the baby, watching her with the same awe I knew I did when I held Liam, too.

Emma groaned a little, but then laughed. “They are driving me nuts already, saying they get dibs on first overnight stay and they’re planning it for six weeks from now. Daisy gave them the idea when Allie had Liam; said that if they keep the baby that night, it’ll be okay for Allie and Jacks to get busy and give them another grandchild. Mom and Daisy both are caught up in baby fever…” she cocked her head and eyed Brandon with a smirk. “Don’t think you’re home free, either, buddy. Chloe’s mom was right there with them and she’s got two of them to work on!”

She cackled with glee and I could see Brandon’s throat work as he swallowed hard before looking at me, worry clouding his gaze. My heart sank but I shook my head slightly at him, telling him it wasn’t the time, just to let it go. No one but he and I knew what the result of the damage was. Not even my mom.

Brandon walked over to me and took the baby from my arms. My stomach clenched at the sight of him holding the tiny little girl in his hands, but I pushed it away. I glanced sideways and noticed Luke looking at me.

The shrewdness in his eyes was not lost on me; in that moment, I knew that he’d put two and two together. The corner of my mouth tipped up in a wry smile, which he returned, nodding his head slightly to let me know he understood. He’s a good guy like that.

“So, Brandon told me he saw your vagina.”

I clapped a hand over my mouth as my face flushed. I closed my eyes, mortified that that was what had come out of my mouth to break the silence around me. Open mouth-insert foot. Geez Louise.

All three of them burst out laughing, Brandon’s guffaw so loud it startled the baby still sleeping in his arms. She let out a wail that sounded like a little wildcat and Brandon looked at her, shame at scaring her marring his features. Luke just laughed again and took his daughter from Brandon, cradling her close to his chest and kissing her perfect little bow-shaped lips and her rosy little cheeks.


Tags: J.M. Stone Skin Deep Young Adult
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