His fingers twined in Sarah’s hair, his eyes narrowing at the emotion that had been forming inside him for almost a year now. He could feel the change in the air. From the moment they rushed into Cade’s bedroom after his scream had disturbed Brock’s careful sensual torture of Sarah’s body, Brock had felt it. It moved like a wraith, weaving careful streamers of knowledge through his soul. He sighed deeply. No regret. No sense of nightmare. No overwhelming need to be certain he was still a part of the family, the bond that had saved his life for so many years. He had Sarah. With her, he could survive damned near anything.

“You okay?” She looked up at him, those whisky-colored eyes of hers soothing him as few other things could.

As always, Sarah sensed his feelings, his desires and needs, even before he knew himself.

“Do you know I love you?” he asked her softly.

A smile spread across her lips, through her gaze. “As I love you.”

His arms tightened around her. Change could come, as he knew it would anyway. But as long as Sarah held him, he knew he would survive.

* * * * *

Why didn’t he feel isolated? Sam sat beside Heather, his arm around her shoulders as her head rested against his chest, and frowned at that thought. Why wasn’t he going crazy, the need to be in there with Marly and Cade overwhelming him? He was concerned. Anxious. Sam thought of all the things that could go wrong, but he wasn’t frothing at the mouth to be certain. To share in it, to be assured Cade wasn’t alone. That he himself wasn’t alone.

He smoothed his hands down Heather’s arms, distantly aware of the softness of her skin, the warmth of her body. She was talking about her sister, Tara. He knew what she was doing. Trying to ease his mind. To give him something else to focus on. He frowned. She did that often. When the memories haunted him, it was as though she knew. She knew and she went out of her way to still his demons, to fill his heart.

Strange. He hadn’t seen that before. He had been married to her for well over a year, and was only now just realizing that.

“I told Tara this new assignment was a bad idea.” Heather sighed against his chest. “But she thinks she knows it all. Ryder’s not as easy to handle as she thinks he is. And Rick is just acting damned funny.”

There was a thread of suspicion in her voice. Sam could feel it, but couldn’t put his finger on what it was.

“Rick will keep her safe.” He wondered if that was really what she was worried about.

“Yeah. He will.” He heard the amusement in her voice. “Just like Cade will keep Marly safe.”

Sam frowned. “Of course he will. Cade wouldn’t let anything hurt her.”

“Then stop worrying so much,” she chided him gently. “I know you want to be in the delivery room yourself to be certain, but everything will be okay.”

Sam frowned. “No. No, I don’t.” He hated the streak of selfishness that often filled him. “If it were you, I’d want it to be just us, Heather. Together.”

He hadn’t been jealous when Brock or Cade touched her, loved her. It filled him with a sense of security to know she would always be loved, always cared for if something happened to him. But sometimes…sometimes he wished he didn’t have that need.

“It will be just us, Sam.” She rose from his chest, turning to him, her green eyes dark with love, with dreams and life. “I promise you that. Just us.”

His heart clenched. Something in his soul seemed to shift, though he wasn’t certain what it was.

“I love you,” he whispered.

She smiled that smile. The one that never failed to heat his blood, to mend his heart.

“As I love you, cowboy,” she said gently, leaning forward, her lips touching his. “Always, Sam. As I love you.”

Chapter One


“Look. If you put the damned thing there it’s going to throw the whole room off.” Marly’s voice was irritated, aggravated.

“It will make the room appear unique,” Heather argued. “It looks perfect there.”

“It’s not even centered,” Sarah piped in. “Really, Marly, that picture isn’t going to work.”

The picture in question was an aerial view of the house grounds. Unfortunately, Marly didn’t want to move the large, older map-styled picture of the ranch from over the fireplace. It had been hanging there for as long as the ranch house had stood on that spot. She wanted both pictures.

“You could hang this one in the dining room,” Heather argued. “It would look good there.”

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