Wicked Whiskey Love

By: Melissa Foster

He glanced down at the precious girl in Sarah’s arms, who was watching him with smiling blue eyes. The difference between Lila’s trusting gaze and Sarah’s guarded one was inescapable. He hoped to fix that, but first he needed answers.

An embarrassed smile lifted Sarah’s lips, and she said, “I’m sorry I freaked out about Bradley. My greatest fear is something happening to my children.”

“I should have realized. I’ll never give you a scare like that again.”

Bones was a protector by nature, but his desire to protect Sarah and her children was like a bone-deep ache he couldn’t, and didn’t want to, shake. He didn’t know if it was because he’d watched each of his brothers find love and they’d never been happier, or if what his mother had told him so long ago was really true. When you find the one person who you’re meant to be with, nothing can change it. All he knew was that if Sarah was married, if she was spoken for on any level and all he could do was admire her from afar, he’d do whatever it took to show her that she could trust him.

“Who’s ready for trick or treating?” Finlay asked as Tinkerbell pulled her toward Bradley.

“Tink!” Bradley stood up, and Tinkerbell pushed her big head forward, licking his face so hard he plopped down on his butt, giggling.

Bones crouched between them and grabbed Tinkerbell’s collar. “You okay, B-boy?”

“Yes,” Bradley said through fits of giggles. “Let her go!”

“How about we get you on your feet first?” Bones helped him up and put one arm around his waist as Tinkerbell bathed him in doggy kisses. The boy needed a puppy his size, but Bones imagined the last thing his mama needed was another mouth to feed, train, or care for.

Red and her friends said quick hellos before heading off to find their husbands.

“Looks like your boy’s got a bodyguard,” Finlay said to Sarah.

Bones glanced at Sarah, who was watching him warily. It was rare for him to be on this end of scrutiny. He saved lives for a living. Most people looked up to him, valued his word as if it were golden, and he tried to live up to that. What would it take to earn Sarah’s trust? And where the hell was the lucky bastard who had earned her heart and fathered her children?

“Come on, B-boy,” Bones said as he rose to his feet. “Let’s show these guys how trick or treating is done.”

“Shoulders! Shoulders!” Bradley jumped up and down, arms stretched up toward the sky, earning an excited woof from Tinkerbell.

As Bones lifted Bradley onto his shoulders, Sarah touched his arm and said, “You don’t have to…”

Bones winked. “I don’t usually do things because I have to. I do them because I want to.”

“Uncle Beah, I want a shoulder ride like Uncle Boney is giving Bradley. Please?” Kennedy pleaded, looking precious in her little football uniform complete with shoulder pads, cleats, and a pink tiara. Truman had taken her to a high school football game, and she’d been enamored with the sport ever since. Kennedy was such a girly-girl, so they’d all been floored when she decided to be a football player for Halloween instead of a cheerleader.

“Sure thing, sugar pop.” Bear hoisted her up to his shoulders.

Bear was the most emotional and lighthearted of his siblings. Bones had no idea how, with all he’d been through over the years. His affable personality had saved their family in more ways than one. When Bones had been away at school and Bullet was on tour with the military, their father had suffered a stroke. Bear had just graduated high school, and he’d put his life on hold to take over their family business, Whiskey Bro’s, and eventually, after their uncle passed away, Whiskey’s Automotive. He’d not only kept them solvent over the years, but he’d helped them flourish, all while taking care of the homestead so Bones could put focus on becoming a doctor and Bullet could give himself over to their country. Now it was Bear’s turn to follow his dream, and Bones couldn’t be happier for him. He’d married Crystal several months ago and was currently designing motorcycles for the elite Silver-Stone Cycles. And because he loved the business so much, he continued working part-time at the auto shop as well. Bones was in awe of each of his brothers and their accomplishments, and he would forever be thankful for Bear’s selfless generosity.

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