She peeled her body from his. “Is that what this was about? Needed a little nookie to get through the lonely night, Cord?”
“No. That nookie wasn’t because I needed TLC, AJ, it was because you needed it.”
Her eyes swam with tears.
“Hey now. None of that.” Cord soothed her, raining soft kisses on her face and gentle caresses on her body.
Finally he lifted her off his softened cock. He yanked his jeans back up, zipped and buckled.
While he left the cab to climb back into the driver’s seat, AJ grabbed her capris, bra and shirt and dressed.
How had Cord known her mood? Known exactly that she’d needed tenderness and understanding?
“Baby doll, you okay?”
“Yeah. Have you heard from Colt?”
“Dad has him workin’ someplace else. Don’t know where. I do know what Ma and Aunt Kimi found at the Boars Nest made ’em madder than wet hens: excessive empty condom wrappers and liquor bottles. They said it would’ve been easier to set fire to the house than to clean it.”
Cord turned into the driveway leading to her home. “First Ma sent Dag back to Uncle Harland’s. Then she left an angry message on Colt’s cell. Colt blew a gasket, railin’ about invasion of privacy and so forth. It was another ugly scene and now Dad’s pissed ’cause Colt made Ma cry. Probably a good thing Carter didn’t come with Macie.”
“Why, because you think Carter’s a Mama’s boy and her crying would piss him off?”
“No. Carter would try to reason with Colt first. Then he’d use his fists. When Colby catches wind that Colt beat on another brother, hurt Ma and pissed Dad off, well, I ain’t sure Colby wouldn’t kill Colt outright.”
“I’m sorry. It’s a bad situation.”
“I have a feelin’ it’ll get worse before it gets better.”
AJ did too. She opened the cab door. “Thanks for the ride.”
“What? No goodbye kiss?”
“We’re in public, remember?”
Cord scowled. “Yeah. Be careful tonight.”
“Of what? The thing I’m most in danger from is being barfed on either by the babies or the mothers-to-be.”
“She told you?”
She blinked innocently. “Who told me what?”
“Macie. She told you she’s pregnant?”
AJ gaped at him. “You know?”
“Carter can’t keep his mouth shut to save his life. Macie should’ve made him the last person to know.”
“Hard to do when he’s the father.”
“I imagine that boy is struttin’ around like a damn peacock.” He smiled wistfully. “I remember I did.”
“I’m excited for them. I can’t wait until I get the all clear to tell Mama. She’ll be happy to hear this house will be filled with kids again.”
“Listen, AJ about that—”
“Have a good night.”
AJ bounded up the steps without looking back.
“I still can’t believe you had a baby before I did,” Channing said.
“Two babies.” Gemma pointed at Channing’s belly. “And unless you’re growing a pair, you’ll have to go through the whole pregnancy thing again to catch me.”
“ I can’t wait. Look at this sweet little face. What wondrous things babies are.”
Channing cuddled Ryder close and smiled at him. “He is beautiful. Perfect everything. So much hair. Such a mellow disposition. Definitely takes after Cash, not you, Gem.”
Just then Ella wailed.
Macie grinned and handed Ella to Gemma. “That’s Mama’s rowdy girl. Feeding time for my loud sis.”
“Chan, bring Ryder after I get Ella settled, willya? He’ll smell food the second my milk lets down.”
“Do I have to? He looks so comfy. I think he’s fine,” she cooed, kissing his forehead,
“aren’t you darlin’ boy?”
AJ watched the scene unfold with complete fascination. Her sister had opted not to breastfeed, so this whole “letting it all hang out” philosophy with bare br**sts, well—
bared and literally hanging out—had thrown her for a loop.
Gemma clutched Ella like a football on her left side, propping Ella on a pillow and lifting her shirt. Ella’s dark head swiveled the direction of the scent of milk. Gemma brought Ella closer so that rosebud mouth could latch onto the nipple. Gemma stroked Ella’s hair and murmured, “You’d think you hadn’t eaten in hours, baby girl.”
Ryder began to fuss. Channing sighed. “I tried to give you a break. But this little guy knows what he wants.” Channing nestled Ryder on Gemma’s right side and he started sucking with happy baby grunts.
“I need a drink,” AJ muttered.
“Oh, sorry, I’ll get you a beer.”
“Sit, Channing. I’ll grab one.”
AJ sipped and studied the front of Colby and Channing’s refrigerator, covered in family pictures and Ky’s artwork. Ky had drawn a picture of the entire McKay clan on a long sheet of white paper. Grandma and Grandpa were prominent on the right side. Colby and Channing were at the top with their arms around each other. Colt was lying down in the lower right corner. A tiny image of Cameron holding a rifle was crayoned below Colt, meant to show that Uncle Cam was far away in Iraq. Keely cracking a bullwhip, wearing a sparkly belt and a big grin. The smaller mirror images of Kane and Kade were below her. Carter and Macie holding hands at the bottom of the page on the left. And dead center was Cord McKay, his visage bigger than all the others.
On Cord’s right side, a smaller identical likeness of him, aka Ky, beaming up at his dad. She squinted. Yep. A crude red cape fluttered behind the dynamic duo. The boy had a serious case of hero worship.
She knew the feeling.
AJ drank half the beer before returning to the living room.
Ten minutes of baby chatter continued.
Macie said, “Much as I love talking about my new brother and sister, and the impending new McKay boy baby, let’s talk about something else. I’m pretty sure AJ is bored to tears.”
“Let’s talk about sex.” Channing addressed the comment to Gemma. “When will we get back to our normal sex life? Because it’s been so hit and miss for us for the last two months.”
AJ shot a quick glance at Macie, who suddenly had a panicked look on her face.
“In another couple of weeks, things should be back to normal. At least until the last month. I didn’t want Cash to touch me at all. I was big as a house, I wasn’t sleeping and I had to pee every five minutes. I felt about as sexy as an old cow.”