Tied Up, Tied Down (Rough Riders 4) - Page 48

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“Pull up a chair, Cam,” Chet said.

Cam plopped down. He offered her a smile. “Have we met?”

“No. I’m Skylar Ellison.”

“Nice to meet you, Skylar.” He offered his hand. “I’m Cameron McKay.”

Sky tried not to stare, but Cam didn’t look much like his brothers, beyond having those same blue eyes. With dark blond hair, he resembled Chet, Remy and Blake more than the McKays, except for Carter. Still, he was striking looking, if a bit menacing.

“Who are you here with?”

“She’s here with me, Cam, and if you don’t let go of her hand I’m gonna hafta break yours,” Kade said.

Cam brought her hand to his lips and took his own sweet time kissing her knuckles.

Kade growled.

“Just kiddin’, K, sit down and chill out.” Cam grinned. “Congrats are in order on your daughter.”

“Thank you.”

Kade sandwiched himself on her other side. “Glad to have you home, cuz.”

“Good to be here, although it’s a little weird seein’ all the women and babies around my brothers.”

She listened while the guys chatted, at obvious ease with each other on a level Skylar didn’t understand. The only person she’d ever shared that kind of connection with was India, and only in the years since India became sober. When Kade put his hand on her leg and squeezed, she was touched he’d sensed her mood.

“If we set it up for Wednesday night, everybody oughta be able to come right?

Kade? You in?” Cam asked.

“The Golden Boot? Yeah. I could swing by. We ain’t gonna start hayin’ until Thursday.”

“All the more reason to celebrate. That part of ranchin’ sucks ass.”

“Which is why we’re very glad we aren’t ranchers,” Chet said, and clinked his beer bottle to Remy’s.

Cam added his longneck to the toast at the last second and said, “Amen.”

Sky noticed Kade looking at Cam oddly. Was it surprising to him that Cam admitted he didn’t want to ranch?

“You think Colt will come?”

“I dunno. He ain’t stepped foot in the place in the year since he quit drinkin’.”

“Maybe we oughta go someplace else, so he don’t feel uncomfortable,” Cam said.

Sky faced him. “That’d make him feel worse. Just invite him like you normally would. Either way, it’s his choice.”

“Thanks for the advice. I appreciate it. Six o’clock, Wednesday night, at the Golden Boot.” Cam leaned over to give Kade an intimidating stare. “Skylar’s smart, beautiful and throws good fillies. Remind me again, why she ain’t got your ring on her finger?”

Chet and Remy both went, “Ooh.”

“’Cause she keeps sayin’ no.”

Skylar blushed.

“Then she’s even smarter than I thought,” Cam said with a wink.

Amidst the sounds of more laughter, Sky heard Eliza crying. Kimi approached and Kade scooped Eliza in his arms before Sky stood.

“That’s our cue to get home.” Kade held out his hand to Sky. “Ready, sweetheart?”

“Yeah.”

“I think she’s just tired, son. If you want to put her down with the other babies…”

“Nah, she’s been a handful this week. Skylar and I are both beat. Tell Aunt C

thanks.” He kissed Kimi on the top of the head. “See ya, Grama.”

Once Eliza was in her car seat in the back of the deluxe cab, and they were driving down the dusty road, Skylar scooted across the bench seat to sit right next to Kade. She set her head on his shoulder and sighed.

Kade didn’t say a word. He just wrapped his arm around her and smiled like he knew exactly what she was thinking.

Her last thought before she floated into sleepy contentment was maybe she wasn’t so smart to keep saying no to this man.

Chapter Eighteen

The second they walked in the door, Eliza was all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

When it became obvious the baby wasn’t interested in napping, Skylar begged off to finish paperwork at the manufacturing plant.

Kade had noticed a few things outside Skylar’s place that needed further inspection.

He tied a hat on Eliza’s head, and dressed her in an outfit which completely covered her lily-white skin. Took him some time to decipher how the baby pack worked. Once he’d strapped her to his belly, facing forward so she could see the world, her legs kicked like a frog’s.

“You like bein’ outside. I’ll bet you’re gonna be a tomboy.” He adjusted his ball cap and wandered to the old wooden barn. The building listed to the right in a bad way, presenting a serious hazard. It could collapse at any time. He’d talk to Skylar about knocking it down before the first snowfall.

A long prefabricated metal barn was kitty-corner from the house. It wasn’t in too bad of shape, but it’d been jam-packed with all sorts of junk—antique machinery, tools, rusted paint cans and empty feed sacks. Rope. Lots of rope.

He unhooked a chunk of rope that wasn’t too thick or too thin. He jerked a foot-long section of it between his hands. Plenty of give. Could use it for quite a few things. Might come in handy.

A flash of inspiration struck him. He knew exactly how he could put the rope to good use. He draped it over his shoulder.

Kade always did things with purpose, so it was nice just to meander, no destination or agenda in mind, talking to Eliza as they wallowed in the lazy afternoon. It pleased him Skylar hadn’t cultivated the stereotypical suburban lawn, but allowed the landscape remain natural. Rugged. A backdrop of long, gold and brown grasses, stubby groundcover the color of cinnamon, sagebrush, and the occasional yellow daisy popped up, all blended seamlessly past the barbed wire fence and across the pasture.

An oak tree with gnarled branches grew in the middle of the backyard. Usually only scrub oak survived and they never reached that size. He stopped under the canopy of shade and looked up. A sturdy branch stuck straight out from the thick trunk.

“Whatcha think, Eliza? Nice and peaceful in this spot. Shady. That’d be a perfect place for a tire swing, wouldn’t it? Made outta one of them big tractor tires?”

She grunted.

“No? Would you rather have a wooden swing so you didn’t get your pretty pink clothes coated with black rubber?” Her feet moved. Kade laughed and wrapped his hands around her chubby calves. “Wooden it is, though it’ll be a few years before I’ll let you swing on it, darlin’.”


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