He tried pulling the dress up to see her underpants but she screamed and pulled it away from him, laughing.
“Model it for me when we get home. I like that full coverage thing you got going. My imagination will work overtime.”
She laughed, grabbing his hand. She hoped things worked out for them but the seesaw continued. Luke was a great guy; he checked off all her boxes, but the lure of the war zone was stronger.
They arrived at Bayou Cottage and Justin came up to the gate on his horse, Smokey, bareback, not wearing a shirt. The muscles on his back rippled as he slid off the horse, opening the gate so Luke’s truck could pass.
“Oh, my God,” Bridget muttered, glancing at Luke, who laughed out loud.
“Everyone says the same thing, even the guys.”
“The remote isn’t working today. Cousin!” Justin shouted, waving them through with a big smile.
“No wonder she’s jealous.”
Justin climbed back on his horse and galloped up to the barn to meet them, pulling on a white t-shirt.
“I’m so glad you could come,” he said, hugging Bridget and shaking Luke’s hand. “And congratulations! Maggie is having a field day packing up baby Tina’s newborn stuff for you. She says you’ll never have to buy a thing for baby Esprit.”
“Thank you so much,” Bridget said. “I’m so happy that she’ll wear her cousin’s clothes! They’ll be second cousins, right?”
“I think so. Come up,” he said, pointing to the porch. “I hope you’re hungry. I went nuts at the farmer’s market yesterday.”
They went into the kitchen of the cottage, the table covered with trays and plates of baked goods and meats and cheeses. “My brother and Katrina will be here soon. Do you want coffee?”
Maggie appeared with baby Tina and the meeting was cordial.
“I guess you can see that Justin supports all the local bakers and cheesemakers in town.”
Katrina and Dave arrived and the chaos that newcomers always bring along ensued. Hiding their babies under shawls, Bridget figured they were nursing. A pang of sadness washed over her; she wouldn’t be able to nurse for long. She could pump constantly and they could freeze her milk, but it wouldn’t last forever. It was something she’d discuss with Luke later.
The interaction between Maggie and Bridget was slightly stilted. Luke could see that Maggie was being cautious. He didn’t get it, but not underestimating a woman, he would do what he could to make sure Maggie could see that he was crazy about Bridget.
He draped his arm across her shoulders, massaged her neck, asked her if he could get her water, laughed too loud at amusing things she said, focusing all his concentration on her.
“Buddy, relax,” Bridget whispered. “You’re sweeping me off my feet.”
“Okay,” he said, snickering. “If it’s okay with you, I’m going to ask Justin if we can take a ride in back.”
“A horseback ride?”
“Yes,” he asked, frowning. “What other ride would there be?”
“I don’t know,” she answered, laughing. “A boat ride. Maggie’s got a skiff.”
“Justin, I see you have some boarders in the barn,” Luke said, referring to the horses.
“We do. We have two now, as well as our two.”
“Do they need exercise?”
“You want to ride?” Justin asked, sitting up straight.
“I’d kill for a ride.”
“Are you okay with that?” Justin asked Maggie.