“Where the hell did ya go, Fisher?” Jackson says in his thick accent. “We were just gettin’ started.”

John points over to the four-wheeler and they all turn their heads, except for Evan, who stands with arms crossed staring at me. I take a step forward and give them all the evil eye because I know exactly what happened, they set Drew up for failure and Daddy rescued him.

“Where the hell have you all been?” I ask, knowing damn well they were at the pond.

“Just having some fun,” Alex chimes in, and I narrow my eyes at him.

“I don’t know how I survived growing up with any of you. You’re all assholes.” Once the word leaves my mouth, I hear my father say my name loudly on the porch.

“Courtney! Language.” I look over my shoulder at him and he cracks a smile. He’s drinking something, and I assume it’s whiskey on the rocks. If I dealt with the Bishop boys all day, I’d be drinking, too.

“Drew, tell Court how hard it was to pull weeds from the pond,” Jackson says.

“You. Did. Not,” I say between gritted teeth, because it’s the oldest, stupidest joke in the book. Each of them are laughing and enjoying this way too much.

I turn and look at Drew and all he does is shrug. “I thought they were being serious. They came up with this big story about needing the bank cleaned.”

I walk toward my brothers, ready to kick all their asses, and Dad steps off the porch and stops it. “That’s enough. Boys, it’s time to get back to work. Playtime is over.” None of them argue with Daddy and their smiles instantly fade. I shoot them a sarcastic smile and Jackson shoots me the middle finger when no one else is looking. Childish.

“Go wash up, son,” Dad says to Drew and pats him on the back. Drew doesn’t hesitate, but takes his boots off at the door. I can tell he’s worn to the core.

“Go through the back,” I yell before he walks through the front door and sets off Mama.

The whisper of the wind in the leaves on the trees and the rustling grass is all that surrounds us. Dad has a philosophical look on his face as he stares out into the open field with rolling hills. Sometimes his silence says more than his words and I’m almost concerned. Sucking in a deep breath, he looks over at me, and I can tell he’s tired. He’s worked this land since he was a boy, and if he had any other profession, he’d be retired. But as he told us long ago, cowboys never retire.

When I open my mouth to speak, to break the nerve-wracking silence, Dad asks me one question.

“Do you love him, Pumpkin?”

Not a second passes before I say yes. There’s no hesitation in my voice, just the truth. He nods and pats me on my back, then we turn in unison and walk to the house. He doesn’t ask me any other questions, which is normal. But to ask just that one throws me off.

After dinner, and after we’ve eaten cupcakes and ice cream like Mama promised, Drew and I head upstairs for bed. Throughout dinner he didn’t stop yawning, and I thought he’d fall asleep with a cupcake in his mouth. Since we arrived, we’ve been sleeping in separate rooms and it’s killing me because I want to feel the warmth of his chest against my back as he holds me.

Before he kisses me goodnight, Drew searches my face as a smile dances across his lips. “Guess what?”

I fall into his arms and he dips down and kisses me. “You wanna be a cowboy now?”

He shakes his head and lifts his eyebrows, excitement written in his eyes. “We got the house.”



Courtney’s been on cloud nine since our offer was accepted, and the rest of the week after we returned from Texas consisted of several decorating and furniture ideas, but I don’t complain, because her happiness is contagious.

“So, I was thinking in this corner here would be the perfect spot for a bookshelf,” she says while looking at the photos of the house on her phone. “Then in the foyer, we could put a cute little entry table on that one wall with picture frames, candles, or a bowl with dog treats. It’ll set the mood for the rest of the house, don’t you think?” Courtney continues talking and follows me through the kitchen as I shake up my protein shake. “Then I was thinking we could do a theme for each bathroom. Our master bath will reflect a calm and relaxing atmosphere, like a day spa. Lavender oils and plush towels…it’ll be our sweet sanctuary.” I glance at her and watch her eyes light up. “In the guest bathroom, we should do a rustic antique look—an old repurposed vanity or dresser we can install a sink into, a claw foot tub, or sliding barn doors. It’ll be like a cozy cottage.” I can hear the smile in her voice, but before I can get a word in, she continues, talking about the kitchen and dining room.

Tags: Kennedy Fox The Checkmate Duet Erotic
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