“Of course. Come on.” I urged her from our warm little nest and we dressed and headed downstairs.

Just as we were finishing a casual dinner of soup and sandwiches, I heard the front door swing open, followed by the sound of voices. The guys were home. I sent McKenna into the living room to relax while I cleaned up. After greeting her, Jaxon and Luke wandered into the kitchen.

“How was it?” I asked, adding the bowls and spoons to the dishwasher.

“Good, Tucker had fun, but we had to duck out the back way at the end because we ran into an old fling of mine,” Jaxon said.

Just great. I didn’t want Tucker around Jax’s booty-call drama.

“What’s wrong with McKenna?” Luke asked, helping himself to the half-sandwich McKenna had left uneaten on her plate.

“What do you mean?”

“She winced when she sat down on the couch like she was in pain or something and her hair is all messy and out of place. She have a bad day at work or something?”

Shit. Jaxon’s knowing gaze met mine and he shook his head. “Something like that,” I bit out, my tone harsher than I intended.

“We should do something nice for her,” Luke said, oblivious to the silent exchange happening between me and Jax.

“Yeah, good idea.” I rubbed the back of my neck, completely at a loss.

“Maybe we could make her dessert or something,” Luke said, rummaging through the cabinets. “What does she like?”

“No clue.” I wasn’t winning boyfriend of the year – that was certain. And the way Jax was looking at me made me feel like the world’s biggest ass**le. I needed to fix this, to take care of my girl. “I have another idea.”

After giving my orders to Jaxon and Luke, they headed up the stairs. Next I needed Tucker to go hunting through the cabinets in search of my next ingredient. “Tuck,” I urged him from McKenna’s lap. “Come here, bud.”

He followed me up the stairs while McKenna watched curiously after us.

We met the guys in the second floor bathroom where Jaxon was gathering up mounds of dirty clothes from the floor and overflowing hamper and Luke was kneeling beside the bath tub, giving it a long overdue scrub down. Seeing that everything was underway, I sent Tucker on his task, searching the hall closet for some type of body wash that could double as bubble bath while I headed upstairs to gather a few candles I knew I had stashed in a drawer in case of power outages.

I met Jaxon in the hallway. “Everything cleaned up in there?”

“It’s getting there. Something happen tonight?” he asked, his eyes narrowed and locked on mine. For all the times I’d given him shit for his antics with girls, I knew his scowl was my payback.


“Liar,” he muttered under his breath.

I wanted to tell him I would fix this and make things right, instead I released a deep sigh and went to finish the final details for McKenna’s surprise. I might not be able to afford to buy her gifts or give her fancy things, but I hoped this small gesture would show her that I cared and that I was trying.

I considered running down to the corner store and picking up a bottle of wine or something until I remembered that the last time McKenna had drank she’d practically tried to jump me. No sense in encouraging that. She’d had enough for one night.

Instead, I had Tucker make her a cup of chocolate milk, which he brought up in one of our mother’s china teacups.

Once everything was ready, I led a suspicious McKenna up the stairs by her hand. “What are you guys up to?” she asked.

I stopped at the threshold to the bathroom and turned her by the shoulders. When she saw the three boys and behind them the tub filled with bubbles, the edges lined with white candles, she sucked in a breath. Luke switched off the lights and Tucker, impossible not to love, thrust his arms out to his sides and shouted, “Surprise!”

“What’s all this?”

“It’s for you, angel,” I whispered, leaning in close to kiss her temple. “The guys helped me. We thought you could use some relaxation.”

McKenna silently gripped my hand in a wordless thank you. The expression on her face told me it had been a long time since anyone had done something nice for her. She served others all day long, and the unshed tears simmered in her blue eyes as she struggled to believe she was worth such care and attention.

“Clear out, guys.”

McKenna stopped them on their way out, planting a kiss on each of their cheeks. “Thank you.” Tucker threw his arms around her middle, squeezing her tightly.

When the door closed us in, I spun her to face me. Lazy steam vapors drifted up around us and the low flickering light of the candles gave everything a sense of calm. I pressed a kiss to her waiting mouth. “You lied to me. You’re sore, aren’t you?”

“Is that what the bath’s for?”

I didn’t answer, I just kissed her again. “There are fresh towels in the cabinet under the sink. I’ll meet you upstairs when you’re through.”

She nodded and took my face in both her hands, bringing her mouth close to mine. “Thank you.”

The warm whisper of breath on my skin was the only thanks I needed. “Enjoy, angel. Oh, and Tucker brought you chocolate milk.” I nodded towards the cup on the counter beside the sink.

“I like the pink teacup. Nice touch.” She grinned.

“It was our mom’s favorite.” I left her with a smile blossoming on her lips. “Take your time.”


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