“Why are we at Ross Park?”
“This is where Rocky lives.” I pat his neck. When we reach the paddock, a trainer greets us with a huge smile.
“Put on quite the show for everyone.”
“Too many men were panting after Cam. I had to show them that she was taken.” I swing off the horse and reach up to lift Cam down.
The old man’s mouth stretches wide, showing a few lost teeth and a whole lot of gum. “Message received,” he chortles. “You better keep the reins tight on this one, Miss Hyde. He seems like a troublemaker.”
“I’m only marrying him to save the women of Dallas from further hardship,” she announces.
The trainer cackles with glee. I give him a big tip and instructions to feed Rocky some treats for being such a great mount. As we’re walking out to the car, I ask, “We’re getting married?”
“You can’t sweep a girl off her feet and ride her through Dallas on a horse and not marry her. My daddy would be within his rights to shoot you dead.”
“I just think I deserve a proper proposal,” I tell her.
“I set up a chess club! That was my proposal, and you ignored it!”
I pinch her chin. “You going to bring up the chess club every time I do something you don’t like?”
I throw back my head and laugh. I can’t believe I waited so long to rope this filly. I kneel down on one knee and produce the diamond in my pocket. “Cameron Frank-Hyde, will you do the great honor of being my bride?”
Her big grin disappears slowly, the corners of her lips trembling slightly. “I never thought this day would come.”
“I don’t know why not?” I tease. “You announced we were marrying about five minutes back.”
She hits me on the shoulder—hard. “Just for that, I’m not going to put out until we are actually man and wife.”
“Good thing there’s a preacher back at our hotel room.” I sweep her up in my arms and kiss her silly. When she’s breathless and starry-eyed, I pull away far enough so she can see my face.
“I’m sorry that I made you wait. I’ve loved you since the moment I laid eyes on you at boarding school, but I stupidly believed in that Justice curse and thought that the world is a better place with you alive than with you in a plot of dirt in the back forty of the Justice Ranch. I’m done living with fear, though, because without you, I’m only half a man. If you don’t marry me, I’m going to follow you around on my damn horse until you give in.”
She rises on her tiptoes and presses a sweet kiss to my mouth. “For the sake of Rocky, I’ll marry you.”
“I’ll take it.” We kiss again, then, our tongues dueling, our hands clutching each other tightly, our mouths silently reciting our eternal vows. We’ll say the words later in front of our families and God, but we’re already bound together, forever.
MANY YEARS LATER
I stand on the front porch watching the birthday party in full swing. I could have the kids' parties at the main house, but I enjoyed making these memories in our own home too. It’s Cooper’s fifth birthday. I went way overboard but I can’t help myself. It’s his last birthday being my baby. Well, he’ll always be my baby, but he keeps on insisting that he’s a big boy now.
My days of throwing parties have changed a bit, but I still do them up. I always go all out for birthdays. The bigger the better. I don’t really have a choice since the family has grown. All of us Justice women have kids now. You have to make these events big just to fit everyone and some friends too.
I still can’t believe my little guy is off to kindergarten. His older brothers, the twins, are going into fourth grade. They grow so fast. As much as I wanted little ones, I also wanted to space them out too. This way I could make time for them all. I kind of always wanted a sibling growing up, but I knew one of the perks of being an only child was I really got to soak in my parents’ attention. I think spacing them out a bit is my way of doing that.
I set my hand on my ever-growing stomach. I didn’t need the doctor to tell me that I was having twins again when I’d gone in for my first checkup. I knew. I was excited to find out the sex of the babies. I really wanted a girl, but I would’ve been happy no matter what. As long as the babies were healthy.
As crazy as it is, Tuck made a promise that this round he’d give me a girl. I should have never second-guessed him. Of course he followed through. The man always does what he says he’s going to do. He hadn’t only given me one but two girls. I have to hand it to him, he sure doesn’t do anything half-assed. He’d been as proud as a peacock when he found out he’d knocked me up with twins again.