Courtney walks past him and steps outside. I go to follow behind her and Evan stops me. He’s intimidating as fuck, but I’ve dealt with guys like him on duty a thousand times; however, I can understand he wants only the best for his little sister.

“My warning still stands. If you ever—”

“Evan, back off. I’m a grown ass woman and don’t need my big brothers coming to the rescue. Come on, Drew,” Courtney says through the screen door. She walks off the porch, unties Shadow and then pulls herself up on the saddle.

I look Evan dead in the eyes before I step around him. “I don’t intend on ever hurting her. I can promise you that.”

“Keep it that way,” he says in his thick accent as I meet Courtney outside. The screen door slams behind me and it echoes over the open field. She’s smiling but shaking her head at Evan’s attempt to threaten me for the second time since meeting him. Dirt kicks up as I walk up to Shadow. When I look up at her, she scoots over the back of the saddle and gives me the go ahead to climb on. I don’t hesitate, but I’m extra careful not to kick her when I swing my leg over to put my foot in the other stirrup.

“I was scared if I got off and you got on alone, he’d take off with you.” She wraps her arms around me, places the reins in my hand, and we ride away.

“Why would Evan be at the hospital? Is everything okay?”

I can feel her smile against my back.

“Evan’s a doctor and works the night shifts in the ER. When he’s not at the hospital, he’s helping on the ranch as much as he can.”

I wish she could see my face right now because I’m completely shocked.

“So, he can break your bones if you piss him off and then fix them. Good quality to have, I guess,” I muse and she laughs.

“Never thought of it that way. But yeah, you’re right.”

COURTNEY

The next morning, everyone in the house is up before me. Drew’s drinking coffee with my father and I’m shocked to see them having a normal conversation.

“Hey, Pumpkin.” Dad pours me a cup of coffee from a carafe and sets the cup across the table from him.

“Mornin’, Daddy.” I give him a kiss on the cheek before I sit. Mom sets plates of scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast, with glasses of orange juice in front of us but heads back to the kitchen instead of joining us for breakfast. She’s too focused to break away and often gets like this when she’s baking for events.

“Mornin’, Mama,” I say loudly and she responds with a mumbled ‘morning’ in return.

“Guess the moodiness didn’t disappear with a good night’s sleep,” I say under my breath, but Dad confirms it with a head nod and I know to stay out of her way and do what she says today.

“So, I was thinking while you women are at that baby shower today, I’d steal your boyfriend to help with some tasks around the ranch.”

I glance over at Drew who doesn’t give a hint of what he’s thinking.

“Yeah, sure. But don’t feel obligated, Drew.” I shoot him a wink.

“I’d be happy to help Mr. Bishop.”

I have a feeling Drew is playing this card to try and impress my father, but he has no idea what he’s getting himself into. They’ll work him ragged until I get home.

“Great, son. I’ll meet you in the front in about twenty minutes.” Dad finishes eating, grabs his empty plate and takes it into the kitchen.

Once Dad’s gone, I look at Drew as I sip freshly-squeezed orange juice. “Are you sure you want to do this?” I look for any sign of hesitation or a hint but he doesn’t give one.

“I do. It’ll be fun.” He finishes eating his eggs and takes a bite of bacon.

I almost spit orange juice across the table. “I’ll make sure to ask you how much fun you had when I get back.”

“Courtney!” Mom yells from the kitchen just as I take my last bite of food. I grab my empty plate and step into her space. There are cupcakes everywhere and she’s putting homemade buttercream icing on the last ones.

“I’m gonna leave here in about thirty minutes, if you wanna ride with me. I’ll need help loading it all up, though.”

“Yes, ma’am.” My reply is short and sweet. Dark circles are visible under her eyes and she hasn’t stopped yawning since I entered the kitchen. Honestly, I’ll be happy when everyone is bragging on how delicious the cupcakes are so she can relax.

Drew walks in and sets his plate in the sink and I bump his arm with mine.

“Breakfast was great, Rose. Thank you.”

“See, Courtney. These are the kind of manners I’m still waiting for your brothers to learn.”


Tags: Kennedy Fox The Checkmate Duet Erotic
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