“I'm not freaking her out.” She pulls me away from her to look into my eyes. “I'm not freaking you out, am I?” I laugh slightly; she doesn’t look like she would care if I told her that she is freaking me out. “Oh, my goodness gracious.” She lets go of me and covers her mouth, looking at Ashlyn. “Look at this beautiful angel.” Ashlyn looks over at me, then back at Susan.
“Mom, this is Ashlyn.” Cash says, turning his body so that Ashlyn is closer to his mom.
“Hi! I'm your grandma.”
“Hi,” Ashlyn says in her shy voice, laying her head on Cash’s shoulder. Tears start forming in my eyes at the sight.
“You ready to go meet your cousins?” Susan asks as Cash sets the kids on the ground. Ashlyn shrugs, looking at me.
“It’s okay, love bug.” Jax grabs Ashlyn’s hand, starts walking her up the stairs and into the house, with Susan following close behind them. I stand there and watch as Cash goes back to the truck and starts getting the rest of the stuff that I didn’t grab.
“You ready?” he asks, coming to stand next to me. I take a deep breath and let it out. I’m not ready.
“Sure, let’s go,” I lie. The minute we walk into the house, I’m blown away. It is beautiful, with a huge open floor plan, a sunken living room, and a large kitchen with all up-to-date appliances. We step down into the living room just as the back sliding door opens. A guy who looks a lot like Cash steps inside shirtless, his arms covered in tattoos, all bright and colorful against his tan skin. His hair is long on the top and short on the sides, giving the appearance of a not-so-gothic Mohawk.
“Nico, this is Lilly. Lilly, this is my brother Nico.” I look over at Cash who, yes, has the same facial features, but where Cash looks like all-American baseball player, Nico looks like the only reason he would have a baseball bat is to beat you with it.
“Hi,” I say, trying to wave, and just like that, the pie I was carrying went falling to the floor, the chocolate pudding landing upright, but the force of the impact making most of the contents splash out all over my legs. “No,” I whisper, looking down at the mess I made.
“Well, I can see not much has changed.” I look up, seeing Cash’s brother Trevor, the one I met at the coffee shop all those years ago. He still looks the same, if not a little bit more handsome. Then another guy walks in, looking like he could be Cash’s twin, but upon closer inspection I can tell he’s just a little older, and his hair is a few shades lighter than Cash’s and cut low. I can feel my face heating up when they all surround me. I look back down at my feet, praying to disappear.
“Let me help clean this up.”
“No, I think it’s best if you stay where you are,” Nico says with a smirk that I have the urge to wipe off his face.
“This is my other brother Asher. I don’t know if you remember Trevor. Cash talks softly; my eyes go to him, and he looks like he wants to laugh. I feel a wet cloth on my leg, and I look down to see Nico wiping me off, making me jump back. I start to fall when my foot catches on something—okay, my foot caught on my other one, but whatever—then arms and a lot of bags wrap around me. “I got you.”
“Thanks.” I look around to see all the guys with full smiles on their faces. “This is really embarrassing.” I don’t even realize I say the words out loud until they all start laughing.
“What are you guys doing to her?” I hear a woman ask. I look up to see a beautiful woman with long brown hair coming in to stand next to Asher; his arm goes around her and he kisses the top of her head.
“Hey, baby. This is Lilly. Lilly, this is November, my wife.”
“Hi, I'm so sorry about this mess,” I say, pointing down at the pie that is being scooped up off the floor by Nico.
“It’s nice to finally meet you, Lilly.” She smiles, making me feel better about being here. “Let me show you the bathroom and you can wash your legs off.”
“Nice to meet you too. And that would be good.” I look down at my legs; one has smeared chocolate all over it from where Nico tried to wipe me off.
“I’ll take her; I just need to set this stuff down,” Cash says, and Asher takes the bags from him.
“Let me take those,” Trevor says, grabbing the ones out of my hand as well.
“Thanks.” I look up to see everyone watching me closely, then another beautiful woman comes in with long blonde hair, and she has a very obvious baby bump. I feel like I stepped into the world of beautiful people.
“Liz, this is Lilly. Lilly, this is Liz, Trevor’s wife.” Now my hands are free, I reach forward and shake her hand.
“Nice to meet you.”
“You too. I was just coming in to see where everyone disappeared to,” Liz says, and Trevor comes back over, wrapping his arms around her waist, setting his chin on the top of her head.
“Well, baby, you see, Lilly here is a bit of a klutz.”
“No, I'm not.” My eyes narrow on Trevor and I hear him laugh.
“I think Trevor is right. Who waves while holding a pie?” Nico points out my stupidity.
“It’s polite to wave.”
“When you’re passing someone on the street,” he says.
“I didn’t think about it,” I mumble, looking at the ground and feeling like an idiot.
“These guys are all big bullies,” Liz says, tilting her head back to look at her husband.
“I think when they pick on you it means they like you,” November points out.
“Can you watch the kids for a second? I’m gonna take Lil to the bathroom and help her get washed up,” Cash asks the room of siblings.
“Is that what we’re calling it today?” Asher asks, and my already red face burns hotter. I feel someone watching me, and my eyes go to the kitchen to see Nico dumping out the pie, his eyes on me. I don’t know why, but I feel like he is judging every move I make.
“Mommy, they hab a puppy!” I hear Ashlyn yell as she runs into the house right to me. Her hair is a mess, with grass and twigs sticking out of it, and dirt is covering her clothes. There is another little girl following close behind, but she has blonde hair. When Ashlyn reaches me, her arms go out for me to pick her up. “Mommy, they hab a puppy and he’s so cute!”
“Yes, and his name is Beast.”
“Beast?” I wonder why they would name their ‘cute puppy’ that.