“Doesn’t seem possible. If Keely would’ve showed up at age eighteen and announced she was getting married like Caro did to Eli at that same age? I’da…” Lost my mind and threatened to cut her off like my dad did to me.
“It’s a different world now. Carolyn was young, but you both knew what you felt was real. Fifty years later you’re still goin’ strong.”
“Cal said something like that to me the day I decided to propose.” He studied her. “So if in a couple of years Eliza shows up wearing some guy’s ring, you’d be okay with it?”
“Hell no. And if she got knocked up? I’d shoot the guy if Kade didn’t get to him first.”
“I know that makes me a hypocrite and I’m good with that.” Kimi stopped before she turned the corner. “Is your truck unlocked?”
“I might bum a smoke or two.”
“Go ahead. It’ll be our secret.”
For some reason that released a fresh flood of her tears before she disappeared.
He didn’t have time to eat his sandwich before his hourly visitation. He washed up, suited up and scooted the rolling stool beside her bed.
“Hey sugar. I’m sittin’ here beside you. I know you can hear me. I need you to hear me. Come back to me. I need you to know that I’m right here, I ain’t goin’ anywhere.”
He paused and feathered his thumb over her knuckles.
“Your pesky little sister just visited. Kimi is missin’ you like a limb. She didn’t carry on as much as I expected, but I suspect she recognized how close I am to the edge and she didn’t want to be the one to tip me over. Guess Cal’s havin’ a rough go of it too. The man is always on an even keel. But do you remember the time she and Cal had that epic fight right after Kade found out he was a daddy…?”
By the time Carolyn surfaced after hearing Kimi’s name, she no longer heard Carson’s voice.
Had Kimi been in here?
She definitely would’ve made her presence known. Because her crazy little sister knew how to make an entrance…
Carolyn had spread out the ranch books on the dining room table, lost in numbers and contracts, knowing she had to get it all straight before she could start plugging the information into the computer.
The front door slammed and she didn’t bother to look up, figuring it was Carson.
Footsteps—angry ones by the sounds of it—echoed and stopped.
Aha! There was that lease. She squinted even though she had her cheater eyeglasses on. Wait a minute. This document was supposed to have three pages, not just one. As she shuffled through another stack, she heard the liquor cabinet open.
“Sweetheart, you must be having an awful day if you’re hitting the Jameson before noon.”
“I feel a celebration is in order, but mostly I just need a f**kin’ shot to calm my nerves.”
Carolyn’s head came up so fast her glasses slid off her nose and bounced against her chest, caught by the chain. “Kimi? Ah, why are you breaking into my liquor cabinet when I know there’s booze at your place?”
Kimi scowled and knocked back a shot.
“Are you and Cal fighting?”
“You know Cal and I don’t fight.”
“Which would explain why you’re so upset and why you’re sucking down my whiskey.”
She exhaled a long, slow breath. “Dammit, I need a cigarette.”
“You quit smoking thirty-some years ago. Tell me what’s going on.”
“I’m a grandma.”
Now she pinpointed the source of her sister’s agitation: her son. “Did Kane just spring this ‘you’re gonna be a grandma’ thing on you?”
Kimi shook her head. “That’s where it’s screwed up. It’s not Kane. It’s Kade. And it’s not ‘I’m gonna be a grandma’; it’s I am a grandma. To a baby girl. I saw her today, Caro. A beautiful, perfect three-month-old girl with dark hair and the second I saw those blue eyes I knew she was a McKay.”
“Where’d you see her?”
“In Sundance, but I guess they live outside of Moorcroft.”
Confused, Carolyn said, “They? Who is the mama?”
“Skylar Ellison. She owns Sky Blue, that all-natural beauty product place. Her sister is that tattoo artist India from India’s Ink. Anyway, Skylar is the one who broke Kade’s heart last year and why he volunteered to leave. He had no idea she was pregnant. Since this is Kade, I believe him because no way would he walk away from a woman carryin’ his child even if she stomped on his damn heart. No way. So I just stormed into the house and blew the whole thing about him bein’ a daddy. Now he’s on his way into town to deal with her and meet his baby girl.”
“Kimi, that’s a good thing. Kade will happily own up to his responsibilities. You know that.” She squeezed her sister’s hand. “A baby girl! How fun will that be?”
Kimi smiled. “Damn straight it’ll be fun. We need to go shopping. Wait.” She patted her face. “Do I look like a grandma? Lord, do I look as old as you?”
“Nice, Kimi, real nice. Trying to be supportive and you crack age jokes.” She smirked. “Since Kade’s baby mama makes wrinkle cream maybe she’ll give you a good deal on it by the bucket.”
“Oh, hush. You know you look good, way better than me. Which ain’t fair. You should have ten times more frown lines and gray hair since you had three times as many kids as me.”