Branded as Trouble (Rough Riders 6) - Page 52

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“Dare I ask how many McKays are going to be in attendance?”

“Everyone in my immediate family. Ma decided to keep it simple.” He scowled. “I’m sure Skylar told you how hard it is keepin’ everyone straight with our extended family. And that ain’t counting the West side.”

India allowed a smirk. “Does that mean Blake isn’t going to be here?”


“Pity. I like him.”

At Colt’s half-snarl, India kissed the back of his hand. “You’re so easy.”

“Only when it comes to you, sugar. Lemme come around and help you out.”

After he’d opened the door, she said, “I’m capable of bailing out of this monster rig on my own.”

“I know. Maybe I wanna steal a kiss before we head into the lion’s den.”

“Oh. Good plan.”

He tugged her close enough she felt his heartbeat against her chest. His kiss was surprisingly tender and soothing; she hadn’t realized she’d needed pacifying.

The sound of footsteps on gravel, then a loud, “Eww, gross.”

“Yeah, gross.”

Colt eased back from the kiss. Once India’s boots hit the ground, they faced the intruders.

Three boys. India recognized Kyler McKay and Thane McKay but not the last one with the same dark hair and blue eyes that ran in the McKay family.

“Uncle Colt, you were kissin’ India?” Kyler said in astonishment.


“Hi Kyler, hi Thane,” India said. “Who’s this?”

“This is my nephew, Gib McKay, Colby and Channing’s oldest boy. Gib, this is India.”

“Hi Gib.”

“India is your Aunt Skylar’s sister.”

“India also draws tattoos. Really cool ones. She has needles and ink and everything.” Kyler frowned and touched her arm. “Hey, how come you covered up your tattoos? That snake is so awesome.”

India resisted jerking her arm back.

“Good question,” Colt said.

She really resisted sticking her tongue out at him.

Kyler blurted, “Are you gonna get married? Like Uncle Kade and Aunt Skylar done?”

“Why? You thinkin’ of proposing to my girl if I don’t get on the ball?” Colt teased.

“No way! Girls are gross.”

“I’m sure your mothers wouldn’t appreciate that opinion. Or your Aunt Keely,” Colt said dryly.

Kyler shot a nervous look over his shoulder. “She’d kick our butts.”

Colt rubbed his palm up her arm when she shivered. “Let’s all go inside. It’s getting chilly out here.”

“We can’t go back in yet.”

“Why not?”

Kyler sighed. “Grammy said we were bein’ too wild and riling up the babies, so she sent us outside to run off some energy.” He scrutinized Colt from his boots to his ballcap. “You wanna race to the end of the driveway?”

“Please?” Gib said.

“Please?” Thane added.

The knot in India’s stomach tightened. Please don’t make me walk in there by myself, Colt, please.

“Maybe in a bit.”

“That’s what all grownups say,” Kyler grumbled.

“Hey, I never say no to you guys.”

“But you promised you’d give us a chance to beat you.”

Kyler’s chest puffed up. “I’m faster than I was last time.”

Colt turned to her and winked. “Wait here. I’ll be right back.”

He faced his nephews. “Be prepared to get your butts whupped. On your mark. Get set—”

Gib jumped the gun.

Thane followed.

Kyler took the lead, whooping and hollering, with Colt running in fourth place behind the boys, taunting them.

India tried to imagine Colt at that age. Surrounded by brothers and cousins. All boyish charm and athletic grace. Did he have an uncle who’d drop everything to race him?

Four shadows tore up the driveway. Colt lagged behind until the very end when he put on a last second burst of speed and beat them all.

His competitive streak evidently didn’t allow his nephews to win. But they didn’t mind. They were planning rematches, making big promises of defeat, and right then, India knew it wasn’t about competition but about anticipation. For the boys and their uncle.

“Don’t wander off, guys. Stay right in front of the house, you hear?”

Affirmative grunts.

Colt wasn’t even breathing hard when he grabbed her hand and led her up the porch steps. “You’re awful quiet.”

“I don’t talk all the time.”

He snorted.

A blast of sound and heat hit her when the front door opened.

She froze.

“Come on, it ain’t that bad.” He kissed the skin below her ear.

“Okay, that was a total lie. But I promise not to desert you.”

The huge kitchen was filled with people. Big people, little people. Women. Men.

India half-expected everyone to turn and stare when she walked in, but no one noticed.

Finally Carolyn McKay looked up from an enormous steel pan on the cook stove. “Colton! Do you think you can steer your brothers and your father out of here so we can get supper done?”

“Sure, Ma. Where do you want them?”

“Dining room. The table needs all the leaves.”

Colt squeezed India’s hand and approached the group in the corner.

Macie descended on her. “India Ellison, you little devil. So, you and Colt are a couple, huh?”

“I, for one, am not surprised,” AJ said.

“That’d make one of us,” India said under her breath.

“Oh pooh, you guys spend all your time together and have forever. It was only a matter of time before you realized…” AJ

waggled her eyebrows. “The friends to lovers angle is so romantic.”

India’s face heated. Colt’s mother was right over by the sink.

“How can you be so sure we’re…?”

AJ laughed. Macie laughed. Channing laughed. Hell, even Carolyn had a grin on her face.


Keely came from behind her and wrapped an arm around her shoulder. “We’re sure, because Colt is a McKay.”

“All McKay men are…territorial,” AJ said.

“You mean virile,” Macie corrected.

“Very virile,” Carolyn agreed.

“Eww. Mom! TMI!” Keely said.

Carolyn flapped a towel at her. “Oh, your poor virgin ears, Miz McKay.”

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