A Love So Sweet

By: Addison Cole

Treat sidled up to Rex, who was standing a few feet away, holding Hope’s reins, and said, “Is that Jade Johnson?”

Rex spun around, practically salivating at the sight of her. “Holy…” He mounted Hope and looked over his shoulder at Jade. When Rex was in high school, he’d had an enormous crush on Jade. But Earl Johnson was the object of their father’s grudge, and Treat had written that crush off as Rex wanting the forbidden fruit. But from the way Rex was looking at her now, Treat had a feeling he was very wrong.

“Jade Johnson was our neighbor,” Savannah explained to Max. “She moved away quite some time ago.”

“Looks like someone got the best of your cars!” Jade hollered.

Rex’s eyes narrowed. He fisted his hands tighter around Hope’s reins. Hugh looked up from where he was crouched by the crunched fender and shot an uncomfortable look at Treat. Treat glanced back at the house, scanning the porch for their father. If he caught them talking to a Johnson, they’d never hear the end of it.

“Nice to see you, Jade,” Hugh said in a low, tethered voice.

“Not quite a Ferrari, is it?” Jade teased their race-car-driving brother. She looked at Rex and said, “Good thing y’all weren’t on horses, huh?”

Rex’s jaw muscles jumped double-time. He climbed off Hope muttering under his breath.

“I think she’s talking to you, Rex,” Max said.

In Rex’s silence, Hugh said, “We’ll be sending this wreck to your neighbor’s garage.” Jimmy Palen owned the best body shop in Weston, and he lived on the other side of the Johnsons’ property.

“Jimmy’ll be glad to hear that.” Jade’s smile promptly disappeared when she glanced at Rex, who was now glowering at her. “See y’all around,” she said with a wave, then galloped down the road.

Once she was out of earshot, Treat smacked Rex’s leg. “What’s with you? You didn’t have to be so rude.”

“I’ll talk to a Johnson when pigs fly.” Rex turned away.

“What was that all about?” Max asked, still touching her engagement ring. She hadn’t stopped since Treat slid it on her finger.

“Hatfields and McCoys,” Savannah teased. “Rex loves her.” She lowered her voice and said, “He just doesn’t know it yet. Braden boys are thick that way.”

“Not this Braden,” Treat said as he swept Max into his arms.

Max whispered, “You’re thick all right, but not in the head.”

Her cheeks flushed, and he said, “Have these clothes turned my sweet girlfriend into my naughty fiancée?”

“It’s what’s under the clothes,” she whispered naughtily.

Heat soared through his veins. “What’s under your clothes?”

Her gaze turned sinful, and she put her finger over her lips. “It’s a secret. I’d take you to my apartment and show you, but we don’t have a vehicle to drive and I’m pretty sure you can’t charter a plane for this.”

He grabbed her hand and headed for Rex and Hope. He lifted Max up in one fell swoop and planted her on the horse, earning the sexiest squeal-giggle he’d ever heard, then climbed on behind her.

“Where are we going?” she asked with a beautiful smile.

“I may not be able to charter a plane, but I can sure as heck hijack a horse.”

He wrapped his arm around her, and she turned, pressing her lips to his. As he deepened the kiss, his siblings cheered them on.

They both came away breathless, and Max said, “Take me away, cowboy.”

With a gentle nudge of his heels, he urged Hope to carry them off to celebrate their engagement properly, and Treat thanked his lucky stars that he’d chartered that plane and gotten his girl.

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