Macie waved her off. “All ingredients you had on hand, no biggie. How long’s it take to get to town again?”
“Thirty minutes. So, what’s the big secret? What are you looking at in Sundance?”
“Dewey’s Delish Dish in the Sandstone building.”
AJ turned slightly to look at Macie. “You quitting the Last Chance Diner?”
“God no. I swear Velma would hunt me down and kill me. We’re expanding.
Velma’s interested in taking over Dewey’s place. He’s getting ready to retire, he’s got no one to pass it down to, but he doesn’t want to leave Sundance without a family style restaurant. I’m here to check it out and see how much remodeling we’d have to do before we make a commitment or whether we’d be better off looking for a different location.”
“Those other storefronts are empty, which is sad because it is a cool building right in the middle of everything in town.”
“That’s why I hope we can salvage Dewey’s place.”
AJ focused her attention on the landscape outside her window. How many more times would she make the trek from her house into town? Twenty? Thirty?
“AJ? You okay?”
“I don’t know. I’m trying to be mature about the ranch sale, because I understand I can’t run the place from Denver.”
That single word made her think of Cord and the wicked penalties she’d earned last night. A shiver worked down her spine despite the unrelenting heat. “Part of me wants to throw a weeping tantrum about losing my home.” AJ sighed. “Do I sound like I’m about four?”
“Not at all. I never had a home up until the last year, so I have nothing to judge it by.”
“Is it a home because of Carter?”
“Yeah, that ‘home is where the heart is’ saying is true, but Gemma and Dad’s ranch feels like my physical home now.”
“Does Carter feel the same? Isn’t he missing the McKay place?”
Macie was quiet for a little too long.
“If I tell you something, you have to swear not to tell anyone, AJ.” Macie shot her a glance. “Especially not Keely.”
AJ’s jaw dropped. “Get out. You guys haven’t even been married a year.”
“It wasn’t planned, but it wasn’t unplanned.”
“After Dad and Gemma had the babies, Carter and I realized we wanted to have our kids while we were young. Plus, we want them to be raised around family—his and mine.
Ky’s already four. Channing is pregnant, so our baby will have instant cousins and playmates. I didn’t have family growing up. Carter did. He says the best part of his life is that connection. Dad and I are figuring that out.” She smiled. “We are really excited about having a baby, but I promised Carter to let him tell his family the news.”
“Can I squeal now?”
After AJ did a happy dance in her seat, she demanded, “How far along are you?”
“Barely. Like three weeks. Carter insisted on one of those early pregnancy tests, so we’ve known since I was five days pregnant. One of the other reasons we wanted to wait to tell anyone was because Channing just announced her pregnancy.”
“Yeah, but she’s almost four months along.”
“Timing is everything in the McKay family.”
“Why would you be adding more work to your schedule with a baby coming?”
“I would oversee the one in Sundance, not run it. Remember my roommate Kat?
She’d run it fulltime.”
“If you’re not quitting the diner that means you’ll be traveling. Won’t Carter demand to be with you all the time now that you’re preggers?” AJ whirled in her seat. “That’s it, isn’t it? Are you guys moving back here?”
“Yes…and no. We’ll be living here half the time and half the time at the Bar 9.
Carter misses the McKay ranch and his brothers. And with all that’s going on with Colt, I know Colby and Cord would appreciate his help.”
“Where would you live? Someplace on the ranch?”
Then AJ knew. “You’ll be living in my house, won’t you?”
“Yeah. Are you upset?”
During the moments she’d allowed herself to think about it, she’d wondered what’d happen to their home. Colby and Channing owned a gorgeous place a couple of miles from Carson and Carolyn’s homeplace. Cord didn’t need a house. Cam was in Iraq, Keely in Denver, Colt shared the old Andrews place with his McKay cousins. Her biggest fear had been the house she’d loved and grown up in would be turned into a den of iniquity like the infamous Boars Nest.
“AJ? Say something.”
“I don’t know what to say. When was this decided?”
“Colby and Carter had been kicking around an idea of putting a trailer up the road from your place, when Carson told us about them buying the Foster ranch. Cord suggested it’d be perfect for us with the extra large barn Carter can use as a permanent studio. And it’s close enough to Cord’s place that he could check on it when we were at the Bar 9.
“In fact, when Cord called us to tell us about Colt, he asked me to talk to you about it first, since we’re friends.” Macie’s hazel eyes were filled with concern. “We’ll still be friends, right, AJ? I can’t stand the thought that this would hurt you.”
“Hurting me is inevitable, you heard my mixed feelings about moving.”
AJ stared out the window and Macie let her.
“Nothing would make Mama happier than knowing the house was filled with a happy family. Why didn’t Cord tell me?”
“I honestly don’t know.”
Her cynical side thought Cord worried the news would lessen his chances of getting laid. But Cord probably believed hearing the news from Macie would be easier. She might’ve been resentful to the whole McKay family if it’d come from any of them—even Keely. Cord’s intuitive side surprised her. Lots of things about him surprised her.
“So tell me the truth, Macie McKay, were you mentally redecorating my house while we were eating lunch?”
“No.” Macie reached over and whapped her on the knee. “Being around my sis-in-law has made you a real smartypants, Amy Jo Foster.”