Wicked Whiskey LoveBy: Melissa Foster
Sarah finally relented, handing Bones her sweet baby girl with an appreciative smile. “I hate feeling like I’m taking advantage of you. You’re always helping us out. One day you’re going to spin around and wonder where all your free time went.”
“Take advantage, darlin’.” He couldn’t keep the double entendre from sounding like one, and the widening of her eyes told him he’d better pull back or she just might run scared. But he wasn’t great at pulling back from something he wanted, and when he caught Sarah stealing a glance at him—a very heated glance—he added, “As often as you’d like.” Then he tipped his chin up and said, “Hang on tight, B-boy. We’re about to get our trick or treat on.”
ALMOST TWO HOURS and several trick-or-treat stops later Bradley was fast asleep in the stroller, clutching a bag of candy, and Lila was in Bones’s arms, bundled up in her favorite blanket and hugging her hedgehog. Kennedy was fighting sleep on Bullet’s chest, but Lincoln was wide-awake in Truman’s arms, tugging on his beard. Crystal and Bear had taken off about a half hour ago. If Sarah tried really hard, she could pretend she belonged among this close-knit group. But she’d spent a lifetime pretending, and no matter how good she was at it, it was exhausting. She’d give anything to have been born into a different family, to be free of her past without lies or fears of what people might find out about her, but she wasn’t blessed in that way. She was blessed, however. One look at her beautiful babies, or her brother, was all it took to remind her of how lucky she truly was.
“We should probably get your little ones home to bed,” Bones said as they strolled down the sidewalk. “You must be exhausted, too.”
She glanced at him, and her pulse did that sprinting, crazy thing that she’d dreamed of finding as a little girl—and that fervor made fear rise up inside her. She’d screwed up once and could not afford to do it again. If it took everything she had, she was bound and determined to give her children a happy, normal life. What exactly normal meant, she didn’t know anymore. But walking along the sidewalk with Bones, talking about the parade and her children, felt like a start, and it was surely much more normal than how she’d spent too much of her life—on the run, doing things she’d never imagined to keep food on the table, and believing in a man who only let her down, leaving her to start all over again.
She’d had such a good time today, she didn’t want the evening to end. But she couldn’t put her selfish desires before her children’s need for a good night’s sleep. “This has been really fun. Believe it or not, I’ve never been to a parade.”
“You’ve never been to a parade?” Finlay spun around in front of her, her pink and white outfit lifting in the wind, sending Tinkerbell into a frenzy. The pup’s big head swung back and forth, assessing the threat.
“Tink,” Bullet said sternly, giving his thigh a single sharp slap. Tinkerbell cocked her head, whimpering at Bullet, then looked at Finlay again.
“It’s okay, Tink.” Finlay petted her head and said, “Parades were a staple of my youth. Where did you grow up?”
Sarah was pretty sure the response in hell would incite too many questions, so she said, “Florida.” The last thing she wanted to do was talk about her childhood. She was sure they’d all had perfect childhoods filled with parades, parties, and pancakes with little smiley faces. The type of childhood she wanted for her children. She’d screwed that up, too, but it wasn’t too late to start over. It’s never too late, she reminded herself. That was the motto she and her siblings had lived by when they were young. A sea of longing moved through her with thoughts of her younger sister, Josie.
“Sunshine and beaches, like Peaceful Harbor. Most of the time, anyway,” Gemma said with a happy sigh, pulling Sarah from her thoughts. “Well, now that you’re here, you can join us for the parades and the club rallies and—” Her eyes bloomed wide, and she gasped. “When are your kids’ birthdays?”