I slid into the booth beside Chloe, and Ian followed me in just as the waitress stopped by with new drinks for us. The guys were drinking beer, and Chloe and I were sharing a pitcher of mango margaritas, but I hadn’t been able to figure out what Allie was drinking, since she’d ordered it at the bar when they came in.

“Allie, what are you drinking tonight?” I asked, curiously eyeballing her glass.


She blushed and glanced up at Jacks, who just smiled and gave a small nod.

“Water,” she answered, her eyes sparkling.

Chloe stared at her quizzically, then grinned as understanding dawned; I knew that my expression matched hers, our faces lighting up even more as Allie nodded and confirmed our thoughts.

“We’re pregnant again!” she crowed, clasping her hands together over her belly lovingly.

Congratulations were flying and toasts were made as the joyous news was yelled throughout the bar to strangers, acquaintances, and friends alike.

We laughed as Allie nudged Jackson and said, “Good thing we told the parents and Emma earlier or we’d be in trouble, huh.”

He just grinned and nodded before leaning in and kissing the tip of her nose.

It wasn’t too long after that we all decided to call it an evening. As I stood to leave, I looked around for my brother, not seeing him anywhere.

“Ian, I’m gonna look for Calland while you pull the car up, okay? I don’t want to just run off on him.”

He nodded, pecking my lips as he moved past me after saying goodbye to everyone. I hugged them all and called goodbye as they walked out, reassuring them that I was just going to find Calland to let him know we were leaving.

I finally found him coming back from the bathroom, making a beeline for the empty stool on the other side of the redhead, but I intercepted him.

“What’s up, sis?” he asked, keeping his eyes trained on his prize.

“We’re heading out. Figured I’d tell you, but I guess you’re a little occupied at the moment, huh?”

He glanced at me, grinning shamelessly. “I’d like to be occupied, but she’s got that fuck off vibe that keeps everyone at a safe distance so they don’t end up getting throat punched.”

“You’re hopeless, you know that, Calland?”

“Yup. So, I heard the news. New rugrat gonna be coming along, right?”

I smiled. “Yep. They’re so happy…and I’m happy for them. I love babies!”

He nudged me. “Then maybe you should get to working on one of your own.”

I nudged him back. “You never know; maybe we’re already working on it.”

His eyes met mine, his brows raised in surprise and happiness. “Are you? Really?”

I winked, laughing as I replied, “We’re practicing working on it. All the time. Like four times a day.”

His face melted into a grimace and he shoved me gently. “Go on with that shit, you sicko. I don’t need to hear about your sex life!”

“Payback’s a bitch, isn’t it, brother dearest?”

He shook his head, chuckling softly. “Now go on, get out of here. I’ve got work to do.”

It was my turn to shake my head, following his gaze to the redhead once more. “I think maybe you should leave well enough alone, big brother. I think that one bites, and she’d likely hand your balls to you on a silver platter.” I paused. “You know what? Nevermind. That just might be what you need to get your head outta your ass and find a good girl. Leave the Fluffy, Muffy, and Huffy to the younger ones.”

He narrowed his eyes at me. “Bitch,” he growled, but I knew he was playing.

“Ass,” I replied, patting him on the shoulder and waving as I walked away.

I thought about bringing Ian back in and hanging around to see how this all played out. I had a feeling it was about to get interesting…

But I decided against it. I had a sexy, tattooed husband sitting outside waiting on me.

And we had more practicing to do.

Calland

I waved goodbye to my sister and sauntered over to the bar, leaning against it beside the redhead I’d been eyeing all night.

She’s fucking gorgeous, pierced and inked up, and had legs for days, but the prickly vibes she was throwing off was keeping most of the fuckwads around here away.

Not me, though. I had to talk to her, just once, to try and break past that wall she had up and get her to smile. Even if I crashed and burned like Leah thought was gonna happen.

She was steadfastly ignoring me, but I still gave it a shot.

“You’re new in town. What’s a beautiful girl like you doing in a backwoods place like this?”

Her lips curled into a smirk as she turned to face me. “Really? That’s what you’re leading with?” she snorted.

I shrugged. “Not leading with anything, just making conversation. I didn’t say anything that wasn’t true. You are beautiful…but you know that. And you’re definitely new in town, cause I’d remember that face.”

She tilted her head, studying me for a brief moment before opening her mouth and dropping me. “Okay, stud. You’re a good looking guy. Used to getting what you want, right? So, right now, you’re expecting me to bat my lashes, twist my hair, giggle, and blindly follow you home for a brainless night of mediocre sex,” she said in disgust. “Am I close?”

“Ouch. Mediocre? Not close at all. Mind-blowing, maybe,” I couldn’t help but retort, regretting it almost as soon as the words left my lips.

She rolled her eyes and twisted back around, blowing me off.

I tried again. “You’ve got me all wrong, Red. I didn’t have you pegged for the simpering, giggly girl. You’re all woman, and that’s clear to see, but damn. My bad for attempting to make conversation with you.” I stood straight, intending to walk away, stopping only when I felt a soft, small hand grab my wrist.

I looked at her, one eyebrow raised in question, not saying anything.

“Look, I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be rude, but I’m here looking for someone and I don’t have time to mess around with every hot Tom, Dick, or Harry that glances my way.”

“Good thing my name is Calland, then,” I said, winking at her.

Her lips twitched but she never let the smile come, just shook her head.

But that lip twitch left me determined to see her smile.

I extended my hand to her and she took it automatically, shaking it as I winked at her and said, “Hi. I’m Calland. Come here often?”

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