“Of course!” I reach over and squeeze her hand.
“I mean, my first child came out so perfect I knew none of the rest would ever live up to her. Why would I want to make any others live in her shadow? I did them a favor.” Mom squeezes my hand back. Her words bring tears to my eyes.
“I want a family. A big one, but I think I might be scared. What if I get to be too much for Tuck and we don’t work? It would break my heart if that happened.” I remember how my parents used to fight when I was little. They loved each other at one time. Sometimes love isn’t enough, and that scares me so much.
“What’s it going to do if you call it quits now?” Mom asks.
“Break my heart,” I whisper.
“I think you two need to talk things out, but that man is never going to call it quits,” Mom reassures me. I know she’s right, but I still I want to know what’s changed for Tuck. Why all these years later is he finally ready to make his move?
“Nope,” Maria agrees. “These Justice men mean business when they fall in love.”
“You going to grab one next? There are three left, Cane, Blake, and Sterling.”
“Cane is in love already so two.” I wiggle two fingers.
“Oh no. I can't, I'm already promised to someone.” Maria’s shoulders drop, her whole demeanor changing. Before I can ask her more about it, a loud commotion has us all turning toward the entrance to the restaurant from the hotel.
Somehow I already know who is causing a ruckus.
The Emerald Collection Hotel is a grand one that dates back to the early 1900s. A real estate magnate built it, patterning it after a German castle. It’s been remodeled and refinished a bunch of different times, but the exterior is largely the same. Crafted out of limestone with ornate carvings of gargoyles flanking Greek gods, the building gives off an Old World feel in the midst of the glass and steel high rises. Back then, riding up on a horse wouldn’t have raised even one eyebrow.
I’ve seen so many cameras pointed at my ride, you’d think I was in New York riding down Fifth Avenue. This is Texas! We have horses here. Sure, you don’t see many downtown, but it’s not that shocking of a sight. Not as shocking as me riding up to the massive fourteen-foot iron doors and clippity clopping inside, much to the shock of the doormen, but what are they going to do when faced with my steed and my gun? Say no?
Nah, they’re opening those doors. I gallop through the lobby all the way into the garden café. There are a few—okay, a lot, of shouts of dismay and Rocky, my white thoroughbred, might’ve knocked over a few tables with his tail, but it’s only money. It’s all worth it to the see the shock in Cam’s face. I pull up next to her table and reach down.
“You getting on?”
“Are you serious?”
“I’m not hearing no.” I grab her hand and swing her up in front of me. She yelps and grabs for my shoulders. I wheel Rocky around and give him a nudge in the ribs. He takes off. Tables crash. Waiters shout. Glass and food is flying through the air.
Cam’s half laughing, half screaming. “What is going on?”
“I’m kidnapping you. It’s a time-honored tradition. You see the woman you want and then you take her. Should’ve done this long ago. Open the damn doors,” I shout to the doormen. Several freeze, but two spring to action and haul open the heavy glass and iron doors. Rocky stampedes through. A car pulls up.
“Hold on.” I apply pressure to his belly with my lower leg, grip Cam tighter to my chest, and launch Rocky over the Benz. The driver’s curse follows us down the paved driveway and onto the street. Horns sound, and sirens start blaring.
Rocky’s well trained, though. He’s a parade horse. We gallop down the road with Cam’s long hair streaming like a banner behind us.
“You’re crazy,” she shouts.
“Crazy for you,” I admit. She’s grinning now, and so am I. This was a foolish act. The damage done to the stately restaurant at the Emerald is going to set me back, but it’s worth it to see the expression of delight on Cam’s face.
“You never came for me before.”
“Baby, I’ve been chasing you for years. You’ve been so busy running off you didn’t see it.”
“I made a chess club for you!”
“But never came to it.”
“Because I didn’t know how to play! You weren’t there to teach me.”
I slam my mouth onto hers. There’s only one way to win an argument with Cam, and that’s to never start. We’re going to have to be kissing at all times. She seems to be in agreement. I lift my mouth off of hers when we near Harry S. Ross Park where the stables are.