Tyler nodded, then wiped his nose, turning to rinse his mouth and dress again. He held my hand as we walked downstairs, stopping when he stepped into the lobby. His brother was chatting with a small group, just as filthy as Dalton and Zeke standing next to him. They were shaking hands and hugging the remaining Alpine crew.
“You stupid dick,” Tyler said, stomping over to his brother. They hugged each other so hard I heard their fists pound their backs. Tyler lost it.
My eyes filled with tears, and Trex hooked his arm around my shoulders as we watched Taylor and Tyler reunite. I gave them a moment, and then I walked over to them, inserting myself into their embrace.
“Hey,” Taylor said, a tear dripping off the end of his nose.
Taylor pulled away. “What? She was here?” he asked, pointing to the floor.
I nodded. “She waited here all night. Worried sick. You should call her.”
Taylor patted his pockets, looking for keys. He pointed to Tyler. “Love you, brother. I gotta see about a girl.”
Taylor ran to his truck, squealing his tires.
Tyler turned and threw his arms around me. “Fuck,” he said, letting out a sigh of relief.
The crew patted him on the back, just as relieved and emotional as Tyler. I hugged Zeke and Jew, and then the rest of the guys while Tyler spoke with a few of the officials.
He came back to me, lifting me into his arms and carrying me to the elevators while the hotshots made ridiculous hooting noises and catcalls.
My eyes were suddenly heavy, and I leaned against his shoulder. The elevator chimed and Tyler stepped inside, maneuvering a bit so I could press the button to the second floor. He carried me to the room, and again waited while I touched the key card to the lock. The door clicked, and Tyler pressed down on the handle, pushed the door with his foot, and then lowered me to the bed.
I snuggled up to his neck, melting against him as he enveloped me in his arms.
“I didn’t know Falyn and Taylor were having problems.”
“Even though she’s pregnant? I don’t see him letting that fly.”
I sat up, slapping his chest. “Shut the front door! Are you serious?”
Taylor propped his head with his arm. “She broke up with him, and he went to California to see Tommy. He hooked up with one of Tommy’s colleagues. I guess she’s going to have it but doesn’t want to keep it. How weird is that? Taylor is getting full custody.”
“Whoa. You think they’ll work it out?”
He shrugged. “She was here all night. She has to still care about him. Come here,” he said.
I bent down, getting comfortable next to him.
He touched the back of his wrist to his forehead. “Wow. That was intense. I don’t know what I would have done if something happened to Taylor. That makes us three-and-oh the last couple of years.”
“Taylor, Trent, and Travis have all had close calls.”
I buried my face into Tyler’s neck. “It’s not your turn.”
“Well, it damn sure ain’t Tommy’s turn. He’s an ad exec.”
“Well … your family thinks you and Taylor are insurance salesmen. What if Thomas isn’t what you think he is?”
“What do you think he is?”
“I’m serious. Or something. He lives in San Diego, right? Isn’t there a federal building there? He’s something. So is his girlfriend. I saw Travis walking to their room the morning after the wedding, early.”
“You have quite an imagination.”
He laughed once. “No, she doesn’t.”
“Yes, she does. And she knows about Travis, too.”
“Whatever he’s not telling her. She’s smart. I’m smart, too. I’m a photographer, Tyler. I notice things. I’m always looking at people. I knew you were inherently good, didn’t I?”
He frowned, unwilling to concede just yet.
“I think your dad knows,” I said.
“What?” he said, lifting his head. “Where is all this coming from?”
“I’ve known. I watched them at Thanksgiving. Abby was asking you all of those weird questions, and she and Jim had a look.”
Tyler’s phone went off, and he dug it out of his T-shirt pocket. “Huh.”
“He’s just checking in, asking if everyone is okay.”
I leaned up to his ear, kissing his cheek. “Told you.”
“No way,” he said, tapping out a reply and then putting his phone away.
“He’s a former detective. You think he can’t figure you out?”
I shrugged. “Maybe he’s just letting you think you’ve fooled him. Maybe he knows there’s a reason why you lied, so he’s letting it go.”
“Since Dad’s psychic, maybe he can tell me when you’re going to pick a date for the wedding,” he said, only half-teasing.
I slipped my hand under Tyler’s T-shirt, running my fingertips up his chest. “I thought you said you didn’t care.”
“Of course I care, baby. I’m just not going to pressure you about it.”
Tyler’s skin was warm under my hand, his chest rising and falling with each breath. I thought about when we first met, how sweaty and sexy he had been, trading punches in my parents’ gallery room. We had conquered heaven and hell, fire and ice, and he’d stuck with me through it all.
“My mother seems to be very concerned about me affording the condo.”
“Yeah, but your dad’s not worried.”
“If Taylor’s going to be a dad … won’t he and Falyn need their own place?”
“Maybe you should give them the apartment, and you move into the condo with me?”
Tyler turned onto his side and propped his head with his hand. “What?” he said, suspicious.
I shrugged. “You can pay half the rent. We can get married after fire season…”
He cupped my jaw, turning until his torso was hovering over me. “Baby,” he said, pressing his lips to mine and sliding his tongue inside. I reached up his shirt, pressing my fingers into the muscles in his back.
“Like October? November?” he said against my lips.
He touched his forehead to mine, already emotional from the day. “Are you fucking with me?”
“I don’t need anything fancy, do you?” He shook his head. “Pick a Saturday.”
He scrambled for his phone, opening his calendar. “November seventh. That way we’re sure fire season is over, and maybe some of the guys will still be around.”