“Heather.” He pulled her head back and she was amazed at the depth of emotion she saw in his gaze. “This, with you, is all I’ve ever really needed. Without this, no bond on earth could save me, baby. My soul would wither away and die. You saved me, Heather. I’m so sorry you didn’t feel you could come to me. Didn’t feel you could trust me with your dream. The wounds healed slowly, baby, but you healed them. I’m all yours. Always.”

The truth of his words glistened in his eyes, in the single tear that tracked down his cheek.

“Our own home,” he whispered then. “Our own picture over our own fireplace.” He placed his hand on her abdomen. “Our own baby.” His voice lowered, becoming reverent, awed. “I want our own baby, Heather.”

In his voice, in his eyes, she saw the need, the dreams she was afraid he would never have.

“Our own baby.” Her hand covered his. “I love you, Sam.”

“And I love you, Heather. Forever, baby. Forever.”


Christmas, One Year Later

There were three houses where once there had been one. Within sight of each other, front yards facing the center of the main ranch yard. Each different. Each distinctive of the couple who resided within.

Cade stood at the large window of the suite of rooms he and Marly had renovated to allow them a view of the other houses. The bedroom was larger, filled now with Marly’s gentle, sometimes whimsical, tastes. But despite the feminine touches, it still retained the more dominant flavor that the old room had. Heavy dark furniture, large chairs, a wide bed. Not that he ever let her get far from him.

It had been a year since she and the others had plotted and planned the final downfall of the August men. Cade smiled. Being taken down had never been so good.

“Aren’t the lights pretty?” Marly moved beside him, snuggling against him as he wrapped his arm around her waist.

The lights were indeed pretty. Each house had been strung with a multitude of festive colors. Lighted icicles dripped from eaves, while candy cane colors wrapped around porch posts, and multi-colored blinking confections surrounded windows. It was a winter wonderland of holiday delights. Drace had loved each and every minute of the sight of them. And soon, there would be a baby brother or sister to share the excitement.

He ran his hand over Marly’s distended abdomen, amazed at the life he could feel pulsing beneath it. Twins. It terrified him. Heather was expecting as well. Sarah had just given birth to Brock’s newborn daughter. A golden-haired little heartbreaker they would all be hard-pressed to keep the beaus away from later. The ranch was filling with life. With laughter. With love. With dreams he never thought would be his own.

“Thank you.” He pressed a kiss to his wife’s riotous curls.

She looked up at him, her brilliant blue eyes misty with emotion.

“Thank you,” she whispered. “For both our dreams, Cade. For daring to dream with me.”

Their arms surrounded each other, their gazes returning to the view, and the future stretching ahead of them.

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