Taming the Texan - Page 36

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Hayes leveled his gaze. “All of it.”

Colt nodded and turned away. Heading toward the open end of the stables, he called over his shoulder, “Annabelle has Alexa’s address on file.”

Hayes clenched his teeth as Nolan stared with that damn smirk on his face. “Shut up.”

He didn’t want his meddling brothers, or his sisters-in-law, getting in his personal business. Though apparently it was a little too late for that.

Without a word, Hayes spun on his booted heel and left the stables. He either needed to work on some more demo to get this frustration out of his head or he…

No. That’s not what he needed to do. He’d cut ties with Alexa. He’d learned his lesson about getting tangled up with the wrong woman and Alexa being a single mother was definitely not for him. Not that he didn’t love kids. He adored his brothers’ children. How could he not? Two beautiful twin girls and a bouncing baby boy?

There was just so much evil Hayes had seen. All the nightmares he had, sleeping and awake, would not be a good atmosphere for a child. Being an uncle was a far cry from being hands-on with a child every day and if he and Alexa became involved, he’d want to be hands-on. That goal from when he was younger still lived deep inside him. The goal of a family, of children. But he’d had to ignore that need—he’d had to push it so far down it wouldn’t creep up and make him realize he was missing everything he’d wanted for his future.

Hayes hopped into his truck and pulled up the drive leading to his house. As he passed the main house, Annabelle sat on the porch swing watching her twin girls playing at her feet.

A small tug of jealousy slithered through him, but the unwanted emotion had no place in his life. Growing up, he’d always thought he’d have a family and they’d all live here on the ranch. Then life happened and reality smacked him in the face with a sledgehammer.

He threw up a hand in greeting when Annabelle lifted her head and smiled as he drove by. His brothers may have found happiness, and he was grateful they were bringing up another generation of Elliotts for the next chapter in their lives.

But if anyone was looking to him to carry on the name, well, they were wasting their time. Hayes wasn’t about to take over rearing a child.

* * *

“You are so rotten.”

Alexa laughed as she settled Mason onto her lap. She sat on the stoop and held her son in one hand and the container of bubbles in the other. Well, the now empty container, since Mason had opted to dump the bottle down her legs.

Good thing she was barefoot and in shorts. Mason only wore his swim trunks and a little dirt on his feet from where he’d been running around in their meager front yard for a while. The postage-stamp-size yard was such a disappointment after seeing the spread on Pebblebrook.

Alexa groaned. That certainly wasn’t the first time that ranch, or the sexy rancher, had flooded her mind over the past week. It had been seven days since she’d left and there wasn’t a day that went by where she didn’t wonder what he was doing, how he was doing. Was he sleeping? Was he still tearing out the kitchen?

“Play.” Mason clapped his hands, then smacked her legs. “Play.”

Alexa sat the bottle next to her thigh and wrapped her arms around his slender little frame. “You silly boy. You dumped all the bubbles on Mommy. They’re all gone.”

“No.”

“Yes,” she countered. “They’re all gone.”

Mason reached over her hold and picked up the bottle. Turning it upside down, he shook it. A few random drops filtered out, onto her leg once again, and his lip started quivering.

“More,” he cried.

“How about we clean up and go to the park?” she suggested.

The park was about a twenty-minute drive, but it had a fabulous play area and a nice walking path where she could take him for a stroll once he tired of playing. That way he got a nap and she got a little workout.

Granted the best workout she’d had in ages was the sledgehammer to the cabinets.

And once again her thoughts circled back to Hayes. Why couldn’t that man just leave her head? In such a short time, he’d embedded himself so deeply into her life she worried what would’ve happened had she stayed longer.

Alexa shifted Mason and came to her feet, holding him against her hip. “Want to go swing and slide?”

He nodded, despite the tears in his eyes. “Swing.”

“Let’s go get some shoes and a shirt for you,” she told him. “Then—”

The words died as a big, black truck pulled into her short drive and stopped right against her garage door. She’d seen that truck. And the man inside it had haunted her dreams for the past week.

What was he doing here?

“Truck, truck, truck,” Mason chanted.

Adjusting her hold on her son, Alexa hated that her first thought was how frightening she must look. She was wearing her go-to outfit: old cutoff shorts, neon yellow to really accentuate how wide her backside was, and an old white tank with paint stains.

Oh, well. He’d come to her so he was going to have to see her in all her tacky glory. No doubt he had on another pair of those hip-hugging jeans, a T-shirt that stretched across glorious muscle tone and that familiar black hat with a brim, shielding a most impressive set of black eyes from the sun.


Tags: Jules Bennett Romance
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