Adam Colter fingered a strand of Holly’s light brown hair as she lay sleeping. Her back was nestled into his chest, her behind cradled in his groin.
He allowed his hand to slide from her hair to her shoulder then down her side and over the swell of her belly. Underneath his fingers, the baby moved, and his chest tightened at the fierce satisfaction that gripped him.
She stirred restlessly, and he pulled his hand away, not wanting to disturb her sleep. She tired easily these days with the baby being due just a few short weeks from now.
With reluctance, he pressed a kiss to her head then carefully extricated himself from the bed. He dressed then went in search of his brothers.
He found Ethan and Ryan in the kitchen eating breakfast. They looked up as Adam entered, their gazes questioning.
“Holly still asleep?” Ethan asked.
Adam nodded. “She didn’t even stir when I slipped out of bed.”
Concern wrinkled Ryan’s brow. “She’s been awfully tired lately.”
Adam took the seat at the bar next to his brothers. “I wanted to talk to you both while she’s sleeping.”
Ethan frowned. “Is something wrong?”
“No. I just wondered if we shouldn’t move Holly to Denver well before her due date. I was thinking two weeks at least. I don’t like the idea of her going into labor early and getting stuck on the mountain.”
“I think it’s a good idea,” Ryan said. “The idea of her going into labor here scares the shit out of me.”
Ethan nodded his agreement. “If you want I can call and book a condo.”
“Do that,” Adam said. “I’ll make arrangements with Riley to take care of the horses while we’re gone.”
A light shuffling sound had Adam and the others turning around. Holly stood in the doorway, her hair disheveled and dark circles under her eyes.
“Good morning,” she murmured as she walked over.
She slid into Adam’s arms and turned her face up for his kiss. He covered her mouth, enjoying the taste of her sweet lips.
After a moment, she eased from his arms and turned to Ryan. Ryan folded her in his arms and hugged her tight, his hand going down to tenderly cup her belly.
“Mornin’,” he murmured as he gave her a gentle kiss.
She rested a moment in Ryan’s arms before going to Ethan.
“How are you feeling, doll?” Ethan asked as he slid his arms around her.
“Tired,” she admitted. “Little Bit here has his days and nights mixed up I’m afraid.”
“Kept you up, huh,” Ethan said sympathetically. “Sit down and I’ll fix you something to eat.”
She shook her head. “I’m not that hungry. Thought I’d get some juice and go sit on the front porch for a bit.”
Adam exchanged worried glances with his brothers as she headed to the fridge to pour herself a glass of juice. She waddled back out of the kitchen, and a few seconds later, they heard the front door open then close.
“Book that condo,” Adam said grimly. “We’ll head out after her next check-up with the midwife.”
* * *
Holly stepped out the front door and closed her eyes as the cool September breeze blew over her face. She dropped her free hand to her belly and massaged absently as she made her way to the big comfy chair the guys had gotten for her.
She sank into the plump cushion and sighed in relief as she propped her feet up on the ottoman. She’d only been on her feet a few minutes and already they were screaming in protest.
Whoever said pregnancy was all peaches and sunshine had clearly never experienced it.
She sipped at her juice and rubbed her hand over the swollen mound of her stomach. In response, the baby kicked and rolled, bringing a smile to Holly’s face.
She hadn’t exactly been truthful with the guys. Sure, the baby kept her up from time to time, but lately her sleep had been plagued by nightmares. Since returning to the men she loved more than anything, she’d been afraid that something would happen to separate them again.
There were nights when she woke, bathed in sweat, reaching out to make sure they were still there. Especially Ryan. No longer did he get up to return to his room. He seemed as anxious as she was to make sure nothing came between them again.
She touched him often, reassuring herself, combating the images of him being shot. Just as Adam and Ethan seemed to reach out for her, their fear of losing her just as prevalent.
They all fought their demons in different ways, and frankly, Holly was ready to move beyond the paralyzing fear. Ready to settle in with the men she loved and live their life together.
The door opened and she looked sideways to see Ethan eyeing her with concern. He walked over and settled into the wide chair next to her, wrapping an arm around her shoulders.
He leaned to kiss her temple, and she closed her eyes in pleasure.
“What’s going on with you, doll?” he asked in a gentle voice. He placed his free hand over her belly and stroked up and down in a comforting motion.
She sighed and leaned further into his embrace. He kissed the top of her head as it came to rest against his chest. He began rubbing her back, massaging and kneading the muscles.
A low moan of pleasure worked its way from her throat.
“Feel good?” he asked.
“Uh huh.” Her tongue felt too thick to form words. Her eyes closed wearily against his chest as he continued his rub. The sleepless nights caught up to her as Ethan worked magic with his hands. Her eyelashes fluttered and she struggled to try and stay awake.
Ethan looked down as Holly’s eyes closed in her battle to stay awake. He continued stroking her back, enjoying the feel of her in his arms. He silently urged her to submit to the desire to sleep. God knew she needed it.
He hated that she still fought with the nightmares. Oh, she wouldn’t ever admit to it, but he heard her quiet whimpers, felt her flinch and shake in her sleep. The others were just as aware.
They made sure she was never alone during the night. When the nightmares began, they held her, comforted her, but they felt helpless as her terror continued.
He looked down again to see her face buried in his chest. Still, he waited, wanting to make sure he wouldn’t wake her when he carried her inside.
He turned his head when he heard the front door open. He raised his finger to his lips when Ryan slipped outside. Ryan’s gaze swept hungrily over Holly, worry darkening his blue eyes.
“I’m going to take her in,” Ethan said quietly. “Open the door if you don’t mind.”
With great care, Ethan eased his arm from around Holly and stood up. Then he bent and curled his arms underneath her, lifting her up against his chest. He moved slowly to the door, stopping when she nuzzled her cheek further into his neck.
When she settled back down, he proceeded through the door that Ryan held open for him. He walked to the bedroom and eased her down on the bed. She made a sound of protest when he moved away from her. Taking only a second to shed his shoes, he crawled into bed with her and cuddled her close.
She let out a sweet sigh of contentment as she snuggled into his arms. He resumed rubbing her back as he had on the porch until she relaxed completely in his embrace. Soon her even breathing filtered through the room, and Ethan closed his eyes, content to lie there with the woman he loved filling his arms.
* * *