The McKay family was overwhelming, to say the least. Add in the two dozen or so West aunts/uncles/cousins and Skylar didn’t know if she’d ever remember anyone’s name. It didn’t help that Kade had deserted her.
He promised he’d come back. He did not desert you, her inner romantic chastised.
Good Lord, with all the voices in her head clamoring for attention and offering advice, her mother would’ve been better served naming her Sybil, rather than Skylar.
Late morning was surprisingly cool for the beginning of September. Wispy white clouds covered the big Wyoming sky. The aroma of barbecue smoke and the occasional whiff of the barnyard overpowered the ever-present scent of sage.
Skylar shifted in the wicker rocker. She’d attempted to hide in the house, but Kimi insisted on setting her up under a small white tent. One of the three tents needed to house the vast numbers of McKays. Clusters of people filled the other tents. The one she and Eliza inhabited was devoid of activity and Skylar didn’t know whether to be thankful or embarrassed about that fact.
Horseshoes clinked in the background, competing with the twang of country music drifting from a boom box. Males shouting, females laughing, babies crying, doors slamming, vehicles zooming up the driveway in a cloud of dust—Sky fought off a full-blown panic attack.
She should’ve invited her sister along. No one would’ve noticed another body among the throng of cowboys and cowgirls. Then again, with India being the tattooed and pierced lady, she’d stick out like a circus performer.
Eliza squirmed. Sky adjusted her so she laid across her lap, loosening the blanket to keep her from overheating. When she looked up, a little boy around the age of four stared at her curiously. Black hair, vivid blue eyes. His genetics were obvious.
“Which McKay are you?”
“Kyler. Is that really a girl?”
“Really and truly.”
He peeped at Eliza, practically nose to nose. “So she’s my cousin? ’Cause I ain’t ever had a girl cousin before.”
“How many cousins do you have?”
“About a billion.”
“Nah. Just kiddin’. Thane and Gib are both babies. Well, Gib is walkin’ now so he’s kinda cool, but Thane don’t do nothin’ but drool. Kinda borin’ if you ask me, I don’t see the big deal about babies. And Grama is all excited because we’re gonna have another baby in the family.”
“I think all babies are pretty cool.”
He shrugged. “Know what I think are cool?”
“Horses? Do you got a horse?”
“No. Do you?”
“Uh-huh. A pony and a horse. And a bb gun. I’m a good shot.” He studied her.
“Uncle Kade’d probably buy you a horse if you asked him real nice. Her too.”
Skylar bit her cheek to keep from laughing. “You think?”
“Yep. He used to come over all the time and ride horses and shoot. How come you don’t let him come over no more?”
“Kyler McKay, I’ve been looking for you!”
The boy muttered, “Crap,” under his breath.
AJ strode toward them.
“Hiya, Mom. You sure smell good.”
“Charm isn’t gonna work, buster. And you’re only saying that because I smell like cookies.” She smiled indulgently and ruffled the dark hair on Kyler’s head. “Didn’t you tell Grama you’d pick green beans this morning?”
“Yeah. But I—”
“No excuses. Get going, she’s waiting. There’s a bucket hanging on the fence post by the garden gate.”
The boy crawled under the bottom of the tent and disappeared.
“I hope he wasn’t a pest.”
“No. I was grateful for the company. He’s an entertaining kid. He was looking for Kade. Have you seen him?”
“He and Colt and Blake were headed for the barn. Why? Do you need me to track him down for you?”
“If it wouldn’t be too much trouble.”
“Sheesh. It’s no trouble at all.”
“AJ. There you are.” Macie loped toward them, a dark-haired, brown-eyed baby boy planted on her hip. “Can you take Thane? Carter and his dad are off somewhere and I need to lay down before I throw up again.”
“Sure.” AJ cocked Thane on her hip. “Are you doing too much?”
“I’m done cooking for now. I’ll be fine if I can just close my eyes for a bit.” Macie looked at Skylar and Eliza. “Don’t worry, it’s nothing contagious. Carter knocked me up again. I swear that damn virile man intends to keep me barefoot and pregnant for our entire marriage.”
“Or he’s competing with Cash,” AJ said. “Have you met Macie’s dad, Cash Big Crow and his wife, Gemma?”
“Their twins are fifteen months and Gemma is pregnant again. Damn, maybe it is contagious.”
“Channing would be happy about that.”
AJ grinned. “I take it Channing is still going through with the plan to seduce Colby?”
At Skylar’s blank look, Macie said, “Channing had sort of a rough pregnancy with Gib, so Colby is gun-shy about her getting pregnant again so soon.”
“How old is Gib?”
“Why would Channing want to get pregnant again when she already has a baby?”
“Like me, she wants to have kids close together. Besides, once you have a baby, your life is chaos, how much harder could it be to add one more?”
Skylar hadn’t thought of it that way.
“Anyway, since Channing is nursing and can’t take the pill, Colby is adamant about using condoms. We all know how…insistent these McKay men are,” Macie said dryly.
“She’s managed to hold out on him for the last week. So the next couple of nights she’s pulling out all stops to drive him wild and into having sex without a condom.”
“If they haven’t had sex for a week, he’s toast,” AJ said.
Skylar froze. Not only were these women confiding something incredibly personal in her, neither of them realized Eliza’s existence was due to lack of a condom. Which meant Kade hadn’t told anyone the down and dirty details about their initial encounter.
“Oh, crap.” Macie clapped a hand over her mouth and raced out of the tent.
“Poor thing. I’ll see if I can’t track Kade down for you,” AJ said.