“You know, why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? You want my daughter and granddaughter to live with you, and you don’t want to marry her.
“No disrespect, sir, but that is something that I will be discussing with Lilly first before anyone else. And when the time’s right, I will come to you like a man and ask for your permission, not that it will change my mind about asking her,” Cash says, and my dad’s eyes flash, not with anger, but approval, and my tummy flips. Cash said when the time was right, he would ask me to marry him. Oh, my God.
“Well, I know what Lilly has told us about your situation and what happened in the past,” my dad says looking at me, his eyes going soft. “She believes you, so I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt, but just remember what I said earlier about being a Seal.”
“You’re not a Seal; you’re a Papa Bear.” Ashlyn laughs, climbs into my lap, and Dad smiles. I look over at Jax, who has Spike in his arms as Cash picks him up to sit on his lap.
“This is Spike,” Jax says, holding the ferret out in one hand, his long body swinging back and forth.
“Isn’t he cute, Memaw?” Ashlyn cries, looking at my mom.
“He is something.” My mom makes an eeek-face at me, then smiles at Jax.
“So, has anything new happened?” my mom asks, and I want to tell her about what happened today with the police, but I don’t want her to worry about it. I know the cop said he believed me, so I just hope he finds who really did this and clears my name.
“Nope, nothing new at all.” Cash squeezes my shoulder. I smile, and my mom’s eyes narrow on me. Dammit, I need to work on becoming a better liar.
“So, Lilly says you do construction,” Dad asks Cash, and they start talking about Cash’s job, then about hunting and fishing, and my eyes start to feel heavy.
“All right, love bug, you need to go get ready for bed,” I tell Ashlyn, and she sighs loudly.
“Bye, Memaw. Bye, Papa.” She blows them each a kiss before getting down and walking into the bathroom.
“You too, little dude,” Cash tells Jax, who waves bye to my parents.
“Love you, Mom and Dad,” I say, leaning towards the camera.
“Love you too, honey. If you need to come home, you just say the word,” my mom says, and I feel Cash’s arm go tight around me.
“We’re good, Mom. I promise,” I tell her, giving her a genuine smile.
“All right, it was nice meeting you, son. You take care of my girls,” Dad says, looking at Cash, and then his eyes come to me. “Love you.”
“Love you too, Daddy,” I say softly, feeling his words deep inside my soul. My parents are the best.
“Nice to meet you both,” Cash says before the screen goes black on the computer and my parents are gone.
“I like your parents,” Cash says, and I look over at him.
“They are pretty awesome parents.”
“So what do you say we get the kids to bed and find a movie to watch?”
“Sure.” I start to stand and Cash stops me, dragging me down onto his lap.
“And tonight, you’re sleeping with me. No more sleeping in the room with Ashlyn,” he says, his eyes turning a shade darker, and then dropping to my mouth. We have only stayed over a couple of times, but I always sleep on the pull out in the room Cash fixed up for Ashlyn. I bite the inside of my cheek and give a slight nod. “Good. Now, let’s get the hellions to bed so I can get you alone.”
“Okay,” I breathe and feel his fingers flex into the skin at my waist.
“Okay,” he says, and his lips touch mine. His mouth opens, pulling my bottom lip between his teeth. I feel his tongue run over it before his hand slides up my back and into my hair, tilting my head further to the side. I press my tongue into his mouth; his teeth release my lip, and he puts more pressure on the back of my head, kissing me harder. My arms go around his neck, one hand in the back of his hair, running my fingers through it. When our mouths finally part, we’re both breathing heavily. I lean forward, resting my head in the crook of his neck. “The kids are quiet. We should go make sure they’re not trying to find out how many things they can flush down the toilet before it backs up,” he says after a few minutes. I start laughing. It wouldn’t be the first time, and he is right; when the kids get quiet, they are normally up to no-good.
“All right,” I sigh; I would much rather stay curled up in his lap for the rest of the night, but parenthood is a never-ending job. Cash stands, taking me with him. Once we’re up, we go down the hall to where two of the four bedrooms are located. Jax’s room is on one side of the hall, and Ashlyn’s is on the other. I stop before Jax’s room when I hear both of the kids’ voices. I can’t make out what they are saying, so I creep forward until I can peek my head around the door. I feel Cash’s hands at my waist and we both stand there in silence, listening to Jax and Ashlyn’s conversation.
“Daddy said that it’s my job as your big brother to take care of you.”
“Well, if Mommy and Daddy have another baby,” I feel Cash’s hands squeeze me, “I will be bigger than them,” she says, and I can see her putting her hands on her hips like a total diva.
“I will still be bigger.” He sighs like he is annoyed, making me giggle. I step into the room when Jax’s head comes up.
“What are you guys doing?”
“We were going to listen to a story,” Ashlyn says, picking up the Kindle Fire from the bed.
“Oh yeah? Did you both brush your teeth?”
“Yes,” they both say at the same time.
“Did you put Spike back and make sure that you locked the cage?” Cash asks, and I'm so glad he thought of that. I, for one, didn’t want to wake up with Spike in bed with me.
“Yes,” they both say at the same time again, looking at Cash and me like we’re annoying them.
“One story for both of you. Then it’s bed time,” Cash says.
“Fine,” they grumble. Ashlyn crawls up onto the bed with Jax, and they pull the Kindle between them and start an audio-story about the Bernstein Bears.
“We will be back to tuck you in,” I say, but may as well be talking to air because neither of them are listening to anything I have to say.
“So what do you say we skip the movie and go straight to the credits?” Cash says against my ear, his body wrapping around mine from behind as we walk down the hall.