I cover my mouth with my hand and do my best not to laugh, but I can’t help the giggle that escapes. “That’s not very nice.”

“He got us back.”

“What did he do?” Zack asks and passes me the corn bread.

“He spit in our sodas.” Seth shrugs like it’s no big deal and I cringe. “We drank them anyway.”


“Don’t do that again, Seth.” Zack chuckles and covers his face with his hand.

“It’s just spit.”

“We’re at the dinner table,” Zack reminds him sternly. “Don’t talk about that here.”

“You asked.” He shrugs again and slips a piece of corn bread to Thor. “Other than that, we played games and watched TV and stuff.”

“Did you have fun?” I ask.

“Yeah, Josiah’s mom made cookies and she let us eat them when they were still hot from the oven.” He sets his spoon in his bowl and frowns up at Zack. “I don’t think Mom ever made cookies.”

Zack stiffens beside me and I lay my hand on his thigh. He clears his throat. “She didn’t like to cook much.”

Seth nods and then frowns again. “Jill, do you like to cook?”

“Yeah, when I have time to.”

“Do you make cookies like Josiah’s mom and Grandma?”

“Sometimes. I like to make sugar cookies at Christmastime.” I grin, an idea forming in my head. “Speaking of which, it’s almost Christmas and I haven’t made any cookies yet this year. Maybe you and your dad can come to my place sometime soon to make some.”

“Can we, Dad?”

I glance up into Zack’s deep brown gaze and smile encouragingly.

“Are you sure?”

“Of course. I can’t eat all those cookies by myself.”


“Thanks,” Zack murmurs with a grin. “That sounds like fun.”

For the rest of the meal, Seth fills us in on happenings at school, and reminds his dad that baseball tryouts are in March.

“Yes, I know. You’ve told me five times, and March is still almost four months away, so we have plenty of time.”

“I don’t want you to forget.”

“Trust me, I won’t.”

“Okay.” Seth slurps his chili and when he’s finished, he immediately rinses his bowl and loads the dishwasher. “Are you finished, Jill?”

“Yes, thank you.”

He clears the table, loads the dishes, and then stops next to his father.

“Can I go back to my game, Dad?”

“After you hug me.”

Seth rolls his eyes, but hugs his dad tight around his neck.

“I’ll see you soon, Seth. I think I’m going to head home.”

“Okay. Thanks for playing with me.”

“I had fun,” I say and smile widely, meaning every word.

Seth and Thor walk into the living room and within seconds we hear the game resume.

“I’ll walk you out. I don’t want you to get stuck driving on icy roads.”

“I don’t want that either,” I reply while Zack helps me with my jacket. He follows me out to my car, waits for me to throw my purse inside and start the engine, then pulls me into his arms. He tucks me against his chest and rocks me slowly back and forth. His heart is beating steadily against my cheek and he smells so delicious, I just want to climb him.

“I had the best weekend I’ve had in a long, long time. Thank you for that.” His words are softly spoken against my head. He presses a kiss to the crown of my head and leans back to look into my face.

“I enjoyed it too. Thank you for everything.”

“I’m not quite ready to let you go home.”

I chuckle and push my fingers through his brown hair. “It’ll be okay. Go spend some time with your boy. You obviously missed him.”

He nods and kisses my forehead. “I’ll call you tonight to check in. I want to see you this week.”

“Yes, sir.” I offer him a mock salute and then smile softly. “I’d like that too.”

He kisses me sweetly, then holds my door open for me.

“Text me when you get home. I’ll worry.”

I nod and wave before putting my new car in gear and pulling away from Zack’s house, knowing full well that everything has changed.

I’m falling for those two men.


It’s been three days since I spoke to Zack. I called when I arrived home from the ranch Sunday night to let him know I was safe, we spoke for a few minutes, and that’s been it.

My phone isn’t malfunctioning. I called my cell carrier to check.


On my way home from my last home showing of the day, I call Cara.


“Hey, please tell me you’re still in town.”

“I’m just leaving the school now. What’s up?”

“Wanna come over to my place for coffee? I have information that I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy.” I pull into my driveway and bite my lip. I’m going nuts. It’s time to bring in the girlfriends to yank me back from the ledge.

“Sure. Should I pick Lo up on my way?”

“Sounds good. I’ll put the coffee on now.”

“See you in a few.”

I tromp through the freshly fallen snow and into the house. Thank God it’s warm in here. Whatever magic the furnace guy used has worked.

I set the coffee on, change out of my work clothes into jeans and an old sweatshirt, and pile my hair into a knot just as my doorbell rings.

“We’re here!” Cara calls.

“And we brought brownies!” Lauren says in a singsong, making me grin.

“You’re lifesavers,” I assure them and lead them into the kitchen. I pour us all a cup of coffee, set cream and sugar on the table, and we dig into the brownies without plates or forks. They won’t survive long enough for that.

“So, what’s going on?” Lo asks around a large bite of chocolaty goodness.

“I’m being a girl.”

Cara rolls her eyes and sips her coffee. “Oh good. ’Cause you are a girl.”

I sit back in my chair and lick chocolate off my lip. “I sort of have news.”

My friends share a glance and then both lean in closer to me.

“Spill,” Lo commands.

“I slept with Zack.”

They blink at me for a moment before breaking out in wide grins.

“You owe me twenty,” Cara tells Lo. “I told you it would happen before Christmas.”

Tags: Kristen Proby Love Under the Big Sky Romance
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