“Oh, I received the talk and the threats that went along with it.” I glanced back to Rosie sleeping in her car seat. If there was anything I could count on, it was Rosie falling asleep on car rides. Lately, when she was too overwhelmed, I’d pack us up in Ian’s truck and drive around for as long as it took to soothe her. “The threats from Big Paw seem a little tamer when he’s going gaga over Rosie, though.”
“He’s obsessed with her, huh? It’s funny seeing him that way. Who knew it would take a baby to make him gentle? I thought only Grams could do that.”
“There’s not a day that he’s not checking in on her. I swear, he comes to the ranch a lot more now that Rosie is around. She’s a special thing, my little sister.”
“She must take after you.”
I smiled toward him as I laid my head against the headrest. “Can I tell you a secret?”
“You can tell me all your secrets.”
“I worry a little about your grandparents working so hard at their age. They do too much for others, and they should really ease back. Holly is still working day in and day out at the Farmhouse, and Big Paw is pretty much running the town. It can’t be good for their health. Plus, when I was cooking with Holly tonight, she seemed to get winded quite fast.”
“I know. I’ve been telling them to slow down for the past few years, but they don’t listen. It’s as if they don’t know how to take breaks from the grind of it all. They’ve done so much for this town. It’s time they take a step back. I don’t know what it will take for them to pull back any. They aren’t really the type to take help—they are more into giving it.”
“That makes me sad for them. They deserve a break, time for themselves.”
“Says the girl who doesn’t take time for herself.”
I laughed. “I know it sounds crazy, but I feel more like myself than ever since I started working at the ranch. I never thought I’d be able to say that I loved a job like this, but I do. For so long I’ve been thinking about running away from this place, and the more time that passes, the more I think about how nice it would be to stay and teach Rosie about the ranch when she’s old enough.”
“Big Paw was telling me how good of a worker you are. It’s hard to impress that man, so you should be proud of yourself.”
“I am. I mean, it’s hard, especially with Rosie, but somehow I’m keeping my head above water. I’m remembering to swim.”
He put the truck in park in front of the house and shut off the engine. “I guess this isn’t the point I should ask you to come on tour with me for a few weeks, huh? In my mind it sounded like a great idea, but now that I see how much you’re loving your life, I’d feel awful pulling you away from everything.”
“I don’t know if the team can handle me leaving for a long period of time. After losing the Wreckage on the ranch, we’ve been trying to train new guys to be as good as you four were.”
He smirked. “Good luck with that.”
“I do want to see you in concert, though. I want to see you in your new world. It just might take a while for me to be able to get there with Rosie and all.”
“She’s always welcome to come, you know.”
“Soon,” I agreed, taking his hand into mine. “I promise we’ll come see you soon.”
Just then, Rosie started crying, and I glanced back to her. “Do you think we can do once around the dirt roads to get her back to sleep?” I asked.
Ian turned on the truck and put it into drive. Within five minutes, Rosie was sleeping again.
“Did you ever see yourself raising a baby at nineteen?” Ian asked. His right hand was still laced with mine, and I loved the warmth his touch sent through me.
“I actually fought really hard for this to not be my reality, and yet here we are. Truthfully, I don’t regret it. Rosie is one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. If you’d asked me if I would be dating one of the biggest up-and-coming musicians, I would’ve called you crazy too. But I guess that’s the thing about life—it just happens.”
He pulled my hand to his lips and kissed it, sending me waves of comfort.
And sometimes what happens in life is better than one could’ve ever imagined.
Thanksgiving dinner was filled with laughter, comfort, and tears in the barn house. I was seated at the table with the Wreckage as Rosie played with one of the many toys that the boys had brought back with them for her.
Eric, James, and Marcus were all smitten with the little girl in her turkey onesie, and it seemed that all of Eres was smitten with the Wreckage.
“I’m sorry to interrupt your Thanksgiving dinner, but I was wondering if me and my friend could get a picture?” a young girl said, shaking as she walked over to our table. Her friend stood back a little, trembling. They couldn’t have been over fifteen, and the stars in their eyes were so bright and filled with hope.
When Ian and the guys agreed to the photograph, the girls jumped around with glee. The photographs with fanatics didn’t stop until Big Paw made an announcement, forcing the crowds to stop storming the guys.
“How weird are your lives?” I asked them all, smiling. I loved the attention they were getting, because I knew how hard they’d worked to receive it.