“Oh no, please get up.”
“Falyn Fairchild, you are a stubborn woman. You have the mouth of a sailor. You buck every rule anyone lays upon you, and you’ve broken my heart. Twice.”
“Everything that’s happened since we met has led to this moment. There is only one woman I’ve loved before you, and there will never be another after you.”
Taylor blanched and then stood. “You think it could be a girl?”
He rubbed the back of his neck, walked away from me, and came back. “I can’t have a daughter. I’ll kill someone.”
I chuckled. “You’re right. You do need me—at the very least, for an alibi.”
“I’d feel a lot better about it if we made it official.”
His face twisted. “You’ve said that before.”
I blew out a breath, feeling like the truth had just punched me in the chest. “I guess neither one of us keeps our promises.”
“There is one promise I know I’ll keep,” he said.
I leaned over, tenderly cupping his face in my hands. “Ask me again.”
His eyes glossed over, and he took my hand in both of his. “Will you marry me?”
He crashed into me, kissing every inch of my face. Then his lips landed on my mouth, moving slowly. When he finally released me, he shook his head in disbelief. “You’re serious? You’re gonna marry me?”
He rubbed the back of his neck. “The worst day of my life has turned into the best day of my life.”
He kissed me again. This time, he lifted me into his arms and then carried me to the bedroom before closing the door.
We spent the rest of the day in bed, either making love or making plans. I waited to feel panic or regret, but neither came. I had been without him, and then I thought I’d lost him forever. Loss had a way of making everything very clear, and all the things I’d been so worried about seemed insignificant now.
Just before dinner, Taylor’s cell phone buzzed, and he climbed out of bed to check it. “Damn it. I got called in.”
I sulked. “So soon after what happened?”
He shrugged. “It’s the job, baby.” He fetched the trash bag in the hall and put on the smoky clothes. “Come with me.”
“Ellie will be there. You can hang with her. Tyler’s crew was called out, too. I want you there when I get back.”
I walked over to the closet and slipped on a T-shirt and jeans, and then I slid my feet into a pair of sandals.
Taylor seemed happy as he watched me wrap my hair into a bun.
“Just let me …” I said, hurrying into the bathroom to grab a toothbrush.
We rushed downstairs, and I waved to Phaedra before following Taylor out to his truck.
He drove a little too fast to the hotel. At the entrance, he handed me the key card. “Your phone is in the zipper part of my suitcase. Room two-oh-one.”
“The same room you were in when we met.”
He leaned over to peck my lips, and then I scooted out.
“Be safe,” I said before closing the passenger door. “I mean it.”
Tyler jogged out, his pack in his hand. He kissed Ellison’s cheek, and then he climbed into the shotgun seat.
Tyler looked at me, shocked, and then a huge smile broke out across his face.
I nodded to confirm, and Ellison hugged me.
“Let’s put out this fire then. Don’t want to keep your fiancée waiting,” Tyler said, socking his fist straight into Taylor’s shoulder.
They waved, and then Taylor pulled away, squealing the tires.
“Oh, those Maddox boys,” Ellison said, shaking her head. She put her arm around me. “You really said yes, huh?”
“Absolutely,” she said. “Why do you think they fell in love with us?”
I looked down the road even though the twins were long gone.
“That’s why I know it will work,” I said. “You can’t really be in love without being a little crazy.”
The edges of the napkin tore easily between my fingers as I waited at the bar for Phaedra to bring me a slice of her famous cheesecake.
I smiled at the low hum of conversation that had made me feel safe for so long. The Bucksaw would always be just that—my home.
“Hannah! Order up!” Chuck yelled. When he caught my eye, he winked. “How are you feeling?”
The chime on the door rang, and I turned to see Taylor holding our son on his hip, his free arm hooked around the handle of an infant carrier.
Phaedra set my plate in front of me, but she barely paused before heading to the door. “There are those babies! Come to Granny!” she said, holding her arms out to Hollis.
She carried him to where I sat, and Taylor readjusted the baby bag on his shoulder before bringing over the carrier. Once he set the carrier on the ground, a baby’s wails filled the room.
I arched an eyebrow. “Still think taking them to the hotel was a good idea?”
He kissed my cheek. “The guys hadn’t seen her yet, and I’d thought it’d be nice to give you a second to chat.” He leaned over, pulled the blanket away, and unbuckled the tiny infant. He nuzzled her for a moment before handing her to me.
“It was nice. Thank you,” I said, touching Hadley’s sweet soft cheek to mine. I hummed a little tune until she settled down.
“I have a confession,” Taylor said. “I took off the headband while we were there.”
My mouth fell open as I feigned being offended. “But it’s so cute!”
“It’s ridiculous, baby. Those guys don’t care if she’s wearing one, especially not one bigger than her head.”
I had dressed her in tiny black-and-white houndstooth leggings, a hot-pink shirt, and socks that looked like Mary Janes. Granted, the headband was a bit excessive, but we didn’t have many opportunities to dress her up. I mostly focused on keeping her comfortable.
Chuck came out and held out his arms for Hadley. “Just washed my hands.”
Phaedra gently pinched a roll of fat on Hollis’s arm. “Are you feeding this poor kid?” She kissed his cheek and bounced him a bit. “He’s as big as a toddler!”
Hollis rubbed his nose on Phaedra’s shirt, and then he rubbed his eyes with his chubby hand.
He reached for me, and I patted his back while he rested his head on my shoulder. He was his father’s son with the same long lashes and warm brown eyes.
Taylor had attended every doctor’s and ultrasound appointment Alyssa allowed, and he’d read every book on parenting and newborns he could get his hands on while he was on shift at his new job at the Estes Park station.
The whole time Alyssa had labored and for the half an hour after Hollis was born, Taylor had paced the floor, and I’d watched him from my uncomfortable waiting room chair, rubbing my round belly. The moment we’d entered the room where we met him, the nurse had handed Taylor his son, and it was love at first sight for us both.