“I put them in the barn, back in a stall that Daddy or Mommy aren’t using.”
“You’re hiding a puppy and bunny in your folks’ barn?” I asked, making sure I got the secret right.
“Yep! I’ll take you to see them later.”
Oh, heck no. I would definitely be spilling this secret, but to whom? Lincoln or Brock? I figured Brock was the safer pick.
I forced a smile. “Blayze, I think this is really big news. Such big news that you really should tell your daddy about it.”
“But Renee said I had to keep it a secret, or she’d get in trouble.”
I rubbed my temples. This was not territory I was used to dealing with. “Um, well, I think if you keep this a secret much longer, you’re going to be the one getting in trouble, Blayze. You need to come clean and tell your folks about the rabbit and puppy.”
His face went white as a sheet.
Tanner and Brock walked into the dining room and saw me on the floor. They both frowned.
“Why are you sitting on the floor?” Tanner asked.
I jumped up and went to make an excuse, when Blayze suddenly decided that coming clean in that moment was the right thing to do. “So, Daddy, I have a rabbit and a puppy, and Miss Timberlynn said I needed to…what was it? Come clean?”
Brock drew his brows in tight and then looked at me. I held up my hands. “Nothing to do with this at all. Nothing. At. All.” With my hands in the air, Tanner came to my side.
Brock looked back down at Blayze. “What do you mean, you have a rabbit and puppy?”
“Renee…she gave me her rabbit and puppy.”
Brock closed his eyes. “Lincoln is going to…I don’t even want to think about it, to be honest with you.”
Tanner tugged me closer to him, clearly trying not to smile.
Brock’s phone rang, and he pulled it out. “It’s Paul,” he said with a confused expression. “Hey, Paul, what’s going on?”
Brock kept his face neutral, but at one point I swear the corner of his mouth twitched with a hidden smile. “No problem, Paul, the gate’s open. Completely understand.”
He hung up and looked down at Blayze. “Your life has been spared, son. Renee confessed to giving you the rabbit and puppy. Paul had already promised them to another family in town.”
I was positive we all let out a collective sigh of relief. Blayze took it a step further. “Good thing Renee came clean too, huh, Dad?”
Brock laughed. “Yeah, buddy. It’s always best not to keep secrets.”
Blayze nodded. “Hear that, Miss Timberlynn? You shouldn’t keep secrets.”
And with that, he turned and headed out of the room as Brock and Tanner both looked at me.
“I only promised to keep the secret when I thought it was going to be something cute!”
Brock nodded. “Best you learn this now, Timberlynn. If that boy asks you to keep a secret…”
“Run,” Tanner and Brock both said in unison.
Lincoln walked over, wrapped her arm around my waist, and pulled me off to the side. “Okay, you cannot leave me in the dark until we get alone time with Kaylee. She’ll understand if you tell me first.”
I gave her a confused look. “Tell you what first.”
She rolled her eyes. “Don’t play innocent. You and Tanner! I’ve never seen him look so utterly happy.”
I knew if I could look at myself right now, I’d most likely be blushing. Good grief, if I kept getting embarrassed like this, I wouldn’t ever have to wear makeup again.
“By the way you’re blushing, I’m going to guess y’all are growing closer?”
A wide smile spread across my face. Before I had a chance to say anything, though, Stella called out, “Ty and Kaylee are here! It’s breakfast time!”
Kaylee came rushing over as if her radar had been activated. “Oh, hell no. I know you are not trying to get information before me!” she stated as she shot Lincoln a friendly, but still disapproving, look. Lincoln simply shrugged.
“Like you wouldn’t have done the same thing,” she countered.
Kaylee smirked, then turned her attention to me. She gave me a quick once-over, and her smirk turned into a full-blown smile. “Tell us everything, but make it quick. I’m pretty sure the family is about to go insane since I clearly won the gift giving this morning.”
“Why?” Lincoln and I asked at once.
She waved her hands in the air and said, “Tell us! Quickly, before they figure out the shirt!”
“What are you talking about?” Lincoln asked.
Kaylee grabbed onto my upper arms and gave me a light shake. “Are you dating him or not, man?!”
I laughed. “Yes! We are officially dating! Now will you stop manhandling me, woman?!”
My cousin pulled me into her arms and hugged me tightly, then whispered, “Oh, sweetie, I’m so glad you let your guard down. You won’t regret it. Tanner is such a great guy.”
I giggled, overcome with excitement. “I know he is.”
Before I knew it, Lincoln had us both wrapped up in her arms. “This is amazing! Three Georgia girls snagging the Shaw brothers!”
Kaylee and I both laughed. Then we heard Stella scream.
The three of us quickly looked toward the kitchen.
“Stella figured it out,” Kaylee said. She grabbed both our hands and pulled us behind her as she made her way toward the kitchen.
When we walked into the room, Stella had her face buried in her hands, crying.
“I am so confused right now,” Tanner said as Brock stared at his mother.
“Sweetheart, what’s wrong?” Ty Senior asked, drawing his wife into his arms.
“This…is…the best…Christmas…ever!” Stella stammered out. I looked at Ty, who was beaming. Then my eyes went down and I read his t-shirt.
My hand came up to my mouth, and I looked over to Kaylee. She smiled and nodded.
“What does your shirt mean, Uncle Ty?” Blayze said.
“OH. MY. GAWD!” Lincoln cried out, then started to jump. Kaylee laughed and they hugged.
“We’re doing this together! At the same time!” Lincoln said.
“What does DILF mean?” Tanner asked.
I peeked over at Brock who looked just as confused.
“It means Dad I’d like to F. U. C. K!” Stella cried out as she made her way o
ver to Kaylee and hugged her.
Ty Senior stared at the shirt. “Should I be worried my wife knows what that means?” he asked more to himself than anyone else.
“I’m more worried I didn’t know,” Brock stated.
“Oh, holy shit, dude!” Tanner grabbed Ty by the back of the neck and pulled him in for a quick hug. “I should have caught on. I’m slipping,” Tanner said as he stepped out of the way, giving Brock room to congratulate his brother.
“Another baby! Oh, my goodness. Another baby!” Stella cried out.
As I stood back and watched the family all exchange congratulations with Kaylee and Ty, I couldn’t help but feel a strange ache in my chest. Was this…jealousy I was feeling?
My eyes caught Tanner’s, and he smiled. I made my way over to him, and he slipped his arm around my waist. The ache that had been in my chest was exchanged for a fluttery feeling. I leaned my head onto Tanner’s shoulder and watched everyone. A sense of peace and happiness washed over me as I observed my cousin. She looked so happy, and I had the same sense of joy.
Ty Senior looked over at us and winked before he flashed that famous Shaw smile that each of the boys had inherited from their daddy.
“Wow, Ty’s going to be a dad,” Tanner mused.
“I think he’ll make a wonderful father,” I said.
He nodded. “I agree. We had a good example to follow.”
My eyes stung with the threat of tears. I was truly so happy for my cousin and Ty. Kaylee was having a baby. I covered my mouth and tried not to cry.
Tanner held onto me tighter.
Once the crowds backed away, I made my way over to Kaylee. We held hands, and I slowly shook my head. “I knew it.”
She rolled her eyes. “You didn’t say anything.”
I shrugged. “I figured you’d tell everyone when you were ready, and I didn’t want to ruin your plans by mentioning it. I’m so happy for you, Kaylee. So very happy!” We hugged once more.
“You’ll know this same happiness someday, Timber,” she whispered in my ear as we embraced.
I hugged her tighter. “This is about you right now, not me.”
When we pulled apart, I turned to Ty. “I’m so happy for you, Ty!”
He drew me into a hug, then whispered in my ear, “Did I see my baby brother’s arm around you?”