“Great.” He grins and passes a board to Isaac for cutting.
“And how are you feeling?” Caleb asks him. We all sober as we wait for his response. Mark was hit by a car while on the job more than a month ago, and while the injuries weren’t serious, it was a scary time for the family.
“I’m good as new,” he replies. “But I don’t mind having Meredith around to coddle me now and then.”
“And how are all your beautiful girls?” I ask. The guys all nod and grin, thinking of their women. I can’t help but think of my woman and smile myself.
“My woman is gonna love this,” Will says, as he gestures to the wood lying in a heap on the ground. “She has no idea. And it’s going to mean more to her because you all made it for her.” Will’s face sobers as he looks at each of us. “No one’s ever needed family more than my Megan.”
“Well, she has it in spades now,” Caleb replies and strips his sweaty shirt off, tossing it aside.
“Okay, boards are cut,” Isaac announces and then begins giving us all instructions on the most efficient way to assemble it, and we break off into teams.
“You’re quiet today,” Caleb comments as he, Matt and myself work on the top of the arbor.
“I’m quiet every day,” I reply. “Besides, you’re one to talk.”
Caleb shrugs and passes me a handful of nails.
“Who is she?” Matt asks quietly.
“Who is who?”
“The woman that put that shit-eating smile on your face earlier.”
“That’s an unfortunate turn of phrase,” I reply.
“It’s a woman,” Caleb confirms. “He’s evading.”
“I’m not evading.”
They both stop what they’re doing and stare at me, then bust up laughing.
“I’ve just started seeing Alecia.”
“Holy shit! You talked her into it?” Matt asks.
“Wore her down is more like it,” Caleb replies, then bumps fists with Matt.
“She’s an interesting woman,” I reply, rather than take the bait to get angry. I may not have grown up with brothers, but I did grow up with cousins. I know baiting when I see it.
“Interesting how?” Nate asks from a few feet away. I glance around to find that everyone has gone quiet, listening to me.
These men are worse than a bunch of gossiping women.
I shake my head and hammer a nail.
“She’s sexy as fuck, but she doesn’t know it,” I begin, then tap another nail in place. “She’s feminine, but tough as nails.”
“I wouldn’t want to take her on,” Luke adds. “I’ve seen others try, and she tramples them under one of her gorgeous heels without breaking a sweat.”
I nod. “She’s excellent at her job, but she doesn’t believe in love.”
“Hold up.” Caleb stands and turns to me. “What the fuck does that mean? She plans weddings for a living.”
I shake my head, just as confused as the rest of them. “And she loves it, but says she doesn’t believe in happily ever after.”
The guys frown, and I swear under my breath. “That doesn’t mean you should fire her from planning family events. She does an excellent job—”
“No one’s firing her from anything,” Nate replies calmly, as the others shake their heads in agreement. “But it’s a definite surprise.”
“Just shows she’s professional,” Mark says.
“True,” Leo says with a shrug and tugs his Metallica tank over his head. “I mean, I don’t always love all the music out there, but I have a passion for mine. She’s good at the organization of it, and she gets results.”
“She’s bossy,” Will adds with a grin. “And she’s sexy while she’s doing it.”
“I think we can all agree that we’re all attracted to strong women, since that’s what we all have,” Luke agrees with a smirk.
“Meg’s not bossy,” Will says with a scowl.
“That’s what she’s let you believe,” Caleb says and slaps Will’s shoulder.
“Well, she’s not bossy in the bedroom.”
“I don’t imagine any of us would let them take control in the bedroom,” I say with a smile.
“Are you going to talk her into giving love a try, or are you just in it for a piece of ass?” Nate asks.
My eyes narrow on his and my hands flex into fists.
“He’s been waiting too long for her for it to just be about the sex,” Isaac says. Nate doesn’t answer; he just continues to watch me with calm grey eyes.
“I’m not just fucking her.”
“What if I was?” I ask out of curiosity.
“Well, that’s your business,” Nate replies, and turns back to hammer more nails. “But I think that Alecia is worth more than that.”
“She’s worth everything,” I mutter under my breath before taking a long drink of water.
“We’re going to the Mariner’s game the week after the wedding, right?” Mark asks.
“Yes, we have tickets,” Matt replies. “And I might need your help with something that day.”
“Don’t do it like that, man,” Caleb says with a roll of the eyes. “It’s cheesy as fuck.”
“Not the way I’m thinking of doing it,” Matt replies with a scowl.
“Is he going to propose at a baseball game?” Will asks. “Dude, you should have done it at the fucking Super Bowl. We won, for Godsake.”
“I wasn’t ready,” Matt replies.
“Don’t do it in public,” Luke says, and runs his hand over the plank of wood that has Meg and Will’s names and the date of their wedding carved into it. “Make it more special than that.”
“Oh! I know! Since Nic owns the cupcake place, bake her some cupcakes and put the ring in one of them and she’ll find it when she eats it.” Mark looks pleased with his idea, but Caleb clocks him in the back of the head.
“That’s ridiculous,” Leo says. “She’ll choke on it.”
“Trust me, I have an idea.” Just as Matt begins to outline his brilliant idea for his proposal to Nic, my phone vibrates in my pocket.
I walk away from the brothers and answer the phone.
“Hey, man, is this a bad time?”