“Yeah. I know you think you’re just another one of those McKay men that populate three Wyoming counties, but you are different, Kade. From Kane. From your cousins.
Even your standard issue McKay blue eyes are more compelling…they draw me in.
Every damn time. Anyone who can’t see the differences is a fool.” Why haven’t I seen it?
Why have I acted like such a fool?
Eliza squeaked once. Twice. Louder the third time.
“Oops, there’s our alarm clock.” Saved from further embarrassing admissions about his virtues, she rolled off the couch. Impulsively she leaned over and kissed Kade’s forehead. “Thanks for last night.”
She felt him staring as she cooed to their baby and got a jumpstart on the big day.
“Skylar! You’re here.”
She bit back a smile at the sight of Kimi McKay nearly skipping toward her. “Don’t you mean Eliza is here?”
“No, smarty. I’m just as happy to see you as I am my beautifully perfect granddaughter.”
Kade didn’t get all his sweet-talkin’ ability from the McKays. Sky had no doubt Kimi could charm the bees from the flowers. “Here she is. All decked out for her first rodeo.”
Kimi laughed with delight. “Where on earth did you find jeans that small? With rhinestones?”
“Aunt India. She goes a little insane buying Eliza clothes. Toys. Books.”
“About that…” Kimi smiled. “I sorta went hog wild too, but that cute girlie stuff is impossible to resist, especially since I’ve never had the chance to buy it before. I keep reminding Kade to load it all up and take it to you. He keeps forgetting.”
Casually, she asked, “Why don’t you bring it over?”
“Sure. Pick a day. If you want, I’ll even put you on babysitting duties while I’m at work and you can have Miz Eliza all to yourself. Of course, you’ll have to hand her over when Kade gets home. He’s a bit territorial when it comes to time with his girl.”
Kimi made a frowning, blinking expression.
Had she said the wrong thing to Kade’s mother? “I didn’t mean to presume—”
“Presume? Lord, girl, you really don’t know how much I appreciate the invite.”
It was Sky’s turn to act surprised. “You don’t need an invitation, Kimi. You’re welcome any time.”
“Really? I’ve been tickled the couple of times Kade has brought Eliza into Sundance so I could see her. But I haven’t wanted to butt in and be a nuisance. Overstep my bounds. Meddle where I wasn’t wanted.”
“Seems we both have boundary issues,” Sky murmured. “As far as meddling?
You’re Eliza’s grandma. Actually, you’re her only grandma.” A tiny burst of sadness broke inside her, thinking about her own mother never knowing her child and she looked away before she refocused on Kimi’s all-knowing eyes. “Just because Kade and I are…whatever we are, I didn’t intend to keep Eliza away from him or any of her family.”
“Then why didn’t you tell anyone Kade is her father?”
“Because Kade deserved to know first.” She glanced at their alert daughter. “The way the situation played out wasn’t ideal for anyone. But the bottom line is, Kade’s a really great dad. You should be proud of him.”
“You don’t have any idea how much that means to me. All of it.” Kimi wiped a tear and laughed. “Lord. I’m leaking.”
Sky was leaking a little too. Flustered, she handed the squirming baby to her grandma.
“What a little angel. Your mama did good, didn’t she?”
Eliza cooed back her agreement.
Before Sky started leaking again, she said, “So I brought everything but the kitchen sink. Help me figure out what to load up.”
Kimi eyed the pile in the back of the car. “Things sure have changed since my boys were babies. I would’ve loved to have one of them double strollers.” She winked.
“Maybe next time you and Kade will have a set of twins.”
“I’m greedy, aren’t I? Cal and I always wanted to have more kids, but it never happened, so feel free to overfill my arms and life with grandbabies.”
Rather than feel put on the spot, Skylar laughed. She and Kimi chatted easily as Sky pushed the empty stroller across the bumpy ground while Kimi walked beside her holding Eliza. Family friends would stop and admire the newest McKay baby, congratulating both mom and grandma, and Kade in absentia. Another pleasant revelation was so many people knew about the Sky Blue store and already considered her part of the community. It made Sky wonder if she was spending too much time at the manufacturing plant and not enough putting a face with her products. If she should take India’s advice and let Annie have more responsibility so she could focus on local marketing.
When they reached the entrance, Kimi said, “I believe these tickets are for seats in the upper stands, but I didn’t know how long you’d want to stay up there. Gets mighty hot and it’ll be a while before Kade competes.”
“What is he competing in?”
“Team ropin’ for sure.”
“Is that dangerous?”
“All rodeo events are dangerous, honey.”
“Is there a chance he’ll get hurt?”
Suddenly, the fun afternoon took on a more ominous slant. “Then why would he do it?” Sky couldn’t fathom the idea of Kade purposely putting himself at risk. She couldn’t stand it, dammit, it’d hurt her to watch the big, tough cowboy get injured.
“I don’t know. I’m thankful neither he nor Kane were obsessed with being a rodeo star like some of his cousins. Kade dabbled in events. Nothing serious like Chase is doing now and Colby and Dag done.” A stark look flashed in Kimi’s eyes.
Skylar placed her hand on Kimi’s arm. “Sometimes I have zero tact. I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to bring up painful memories.”
“Thanks, sweetie, but it’s unavoidable, especially on a day like today. Dag’s death was hard on all of us. Then Dag’s father, my brother Harland, died not a month later.”
“Really? I didn’t know. How awful for your family. That’s so sad.”
“It was a mess. Colt was in rehab. No one could get a hold of Cam. Chase was competing in a special PBR event in Mexico and he couldn’t get home. Kade had only been up north for two weeks so Kane had to drive up there to give him the bad news and bring him home for the service. Poor Chassie was a zombie. Everything between Dag’s funeral and Harland’s funeral was kind of a blur.” She shook her head as if to clear it.